This Article is From Aug 18, 2015

What Modi Managed in 48 Hours in UAE

On August 15, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was speaking to the teeming millions about our country's glorious progress after independence, a few hundred miles away, across the LoC, ceasefire violations by Pakistan killed six people. The security of the people is of utmost importance in the light of these incidents. This has been a major thrust of focus by the Prime Minister during his two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates or UAE.

For the first time, UAE and India are on the same wavelength with respect to terrorism. The PM in his speech has categorically mentioned that both countries will not tolerate the terror wreaked in the name of religion. Those who were responsible for horrendous terror attacks in the country like the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the 26/11 attacks and are still being harboured by Pakistan ought to be punished. In order to combat terrorism, a joint statement has been made by India and UAE wherein both countries condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries. They have called for international co-operation and intelligence sharing in counter-terrorism operations. They have also proposed to work together for the adoption of India's proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.

The warm welcome received by the Hon'ble Prime Minister is a far cry from the hostile environment created by the Pakistani leadership. The Prime Minister was welcomed at the VIP airport in Abu Dhabi by the Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan along with his five brothers. The Crown Prince reportedly by-passed the official protocol wherein a visiting dignitary to the country is only welcomed by the Foreign Ministry head Sheikh Abdullah, who is the Crown Prince's brother. This gesture underlines the respect and appreciation of Modi by the UAE leaders. 

This visit is being regarded as one of the most unforgettable chapters in Indian history as it is the first visit by an Indian PM to that country in 34 years. The UAE has also extended support to India's candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council as the two countries called for reforms in the current UN constitution. In addition to this, the Prime Minister was also treated to a multi-course vegetarian fare (including a Royal Gujarati Thali) which was made by India's leading chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, who was specially flown in by UAE hosts. Though Indian heads of state have not paid any visit to this country in a long time, this visit by the PM has been much appreciated by the UAE leaders and people alike. Mr. Modi spoke to almost 50,000 Indian expatriates at a grand public reception named "Marhaba (welcome) NaMo, which is being hailed as unprecedented in the history of the UAE, where for the first time a visiting head of state has been given a reception on such a grand scale. 

Another small but significant takeaway from this trip is the promise by the UAE on Sunday to allot land for the first-ever temple in Abu Dhabi. The PM has thanked the UAE leadership for this landmark decision.

Apart from these, the two-day visit also promises to bring favourable economic implications for India. The Indian expatriate community is the largest ethnic community in the UAE which remits millions of dollars to India annually. Though this is a known fact, a lesser-known fact is the humongous economic potential of the UAE with respect to Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). UAE companies have been investing in Africa, eager to tap their resources in the world's fastest growing continent. Similarly, the UAE has also been looking east to strengthening its trade ties with China. In light of these investments, India projects itself as an attractive investment destination so that it does not lose out on the immense economic benefits which come with being associated with a country like the UAE. The PM announced in his speech that UAE plans to invest 4.5 lakh crore rupees in India, which would give a very big boost to our economy.

With respect to the India diaspora in UAE, PM Modi addressed the labour issues faced by the Indians alongside improving trade and bilateral relations and seeking investment. It is important to mention here that the profile of the expatriate Indian population in the UAE is very different from that of the US - where Modi addressed tens of thousands of screaming, cheering Indian Americans at Madison Square Garden. The typical Indian expatriate in the UAE is a blue-collar worker. Some 50 per cent are in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs, and 30 per cent are in medium-skilled professions.

The PM has left no stone unturned to reassure these labourers of the government's support and ensure their welfare. On Saturday, Mr. Modi visited the ICAD Residential labour camp in Abu Dhabi which houses nearly a lakh people from various Indian states (mostly migrant labourers) and from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal which shows his commitment to address the concerns of the large number of Indian expatriates in UAE.

These instances, and the excited reactions of the Indian expatriates in Dubai as well as UAE leaders, show that the promises made by our Prime Minister are not false. "Maine koi bhaashan nahi diya, karke dikhaya" (I have walked the talk), said Mr.Modi in this year's Independence Day speech. With his UAE visit and the developments thereto, the faraway sands of UAE are not a mirage, as the Opposition claims but  a tangible reality, thanks to our Prime Minister. 

Marhaba Modi, indeed.

(Poonam Mahajan is a BJP MP from Mumbai)

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