Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in UAE capital Abu Dhabi from Paris on August 23 on the second leg of his three-nation tour. During the visit, Modi discussed bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Three MoUs were also inked, in the field of space, culture, the International Solar Alliance and RuPay card.
Strengthening growing ties with UAE, PM Modi was conferred with the Gulf nation’s highest civilian award, “Order of Zayed” by Prince of Abu Dhabi at the presidential palace as a mark of appreciation for his efforts to boost bilateral ties between the two nations. Modi thanked the UAE government for the honour and dedicated the award to the skills and abilities of 1.3 billion Indians. “I am humbled to get the ‘Order of Zayed’ a while ago. This award is not for an individual but for the spirit of Indian culture and is dedicated to the skills and abilities of 1.3 billion Indians. I thank the Government of the United Arab Emirates for this honour,” he tweeted. The UAE in April had announced to confer the country’s highest award on Modi.
India and the UAE enjoy warm, close and multi-faceted relations underpinned by cultural, religious and economic linkages which, during the prime minister’s previous visit to the UAE in August 2015, stood elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership. With an annual bilateral trade of about USD 60 billion, the UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner. It is also the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil for India. “A 3.3 million-strong vibrant Indian community in the UAE nourishes the vibrant people-to-people contacts between our two friendly countries,” the MEA said, adding that Modi’s visit would further strengthen the friendly bilateral ties.
Modi becomes first PM to visit Bahrain
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Bahrain later in the day, on the third leg of this three-nation tour, marking the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the country. Modi was received by Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain.
He was conferred “The King Hamad Order of the Renaissance” by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. The King bestowed Bahrain Order - First Class on Prime Minister Modi in recognition of his efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with the Kingdom of Bahrain. Tweeting about the honour conferred upon him Modi said: "I humbly accept The King Hamad Order of the Renaissance. This is a recognition of India's strong friendship with Bahrain, which goes back hundreds of years and is expanding rapidly in the 21st century."
Modi noted that the two countries have agreed to add new areas of cooperation and further strengthen the bilateral ties. "We aim to make India a USD 5 trillion economy. We would like Bahrain to partner India more closely for shared progress," Modi said. Modi also expressed happiness that the Indian origin people are the largest foreign community in Bahrain. "They are welcomed here with open heart. I thank the leadership of the Kingdom for looking after them and making them feel at home here. I consider myself very fortunate to be the first-ever Indian Prime Minister to visit this close friend in our neighbourhood," the prime minister was quoted as saying by the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement. Narendra Modi also invited the King of Bahrain to visit India, it said.
The King of Bahrain lauded the contributions of the Indian community in the country. "We renew our appreciation for the important and outstanding role of the Indian community in Bahrain, which contributes to enriching our national development process. "The Kingdom of Bahrain is fully convinced of the pioneering role of India at the international level, given its strategic weight and appreciated stances on many core issues. We therefore continue to work with you to maintain the security and stability of the region, in particular to protect trade and oil routes, and to strengthen our cooperation in the areas of cybersecurity, space technology, and energy, including its renewable forms," the King said.
India and the UAE have emerged key partners, with the Emirates backing India on the world stage on crucial occasions. UAE and Saudi Arabia have been important breakthroughs, particularly in the context of Pakistan which has lost clout with these nations. Modi’s visit to Bahrain, the first by an Indian PM, after UAE engagements is seen in a similar context, given the kingdom’s ties with the Saudis.
Redevelopment of Hindu temple
The Prime Minister offered prayers at the Shreenathji Krishna temple in Manama, the oldest temple in the region, and also the ‘prasad’ that he bought with the RuPay card after launching it in the UAE. Modi launched the $4.2 million redevelopment project of the 200-year-old Lord Sri Krishna temple and said it manifests the strong ties between India and Bahrain.
“Spent time at Bahrain’s Shreenathji Temple. This is among the oldest temples in the region and manifests the strong ties between India and Bahrain,” Modi tweeted and shared some of the blessed moments from the temple in his tweet. Modi also greeted and interacted with the Indian diaspora, who came to witness the event at the temple. He praised the Indian diaspora for making the country proud by their hard work and honesty. "There is immense goodwill here for your honesty and loyalty. You have made a place for yourself with your hard work. We have to strengthen this goodwill," Modi said. Prime Minister then unveiled the plaque, thus officially launching the redevelopment project of the iconic temple.
The facelift for the Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama will kick off later this year. The redevelopment project will be on 16,500 square feet land and the new four-floor structure covering 45,000 square feet will have an overall height of 30 meters. The heritage and the 200-year-old legacy of the temple will be highlighted in the redevelopment and the new iconic complex will house the sanctum sanctorum and prayer halls. Around 350,000 Indian nationals, mostly from Kerala, live in Bahrain. The Indian community comprise a third of Bahrain’s total population of 1.2 million.