Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday lay the foundation stone for the first Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates' capital, which is home to a huge Indian diaspora.
This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE after August 2015. He was scheduled to arrive here in the evening.
“The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will come up on 55,000 square metres of land and the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday will be a historic event,” said Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri.
The Indian leader will be laying the foundation stone for the temple from the Dubai Opera House via video conferencing. He will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community.
“The occasion is going to be historic… because it will also see the commencement of the first Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi. We are very pleased that we have received 55,000 square metres of land near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway,” said Suri.
The temple’s construction will be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds. It will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East, said a spokesperson from the BAPS Swaminarayanan Sanstha that is entrusted with the design, construction and management of the temple.
The temple will be hand-carved by Indian temple artisans and assembled in the UAE, said the BAPS spokesperson.
The UAE has two Hindu temples which are located in Dubai. Devotees from Abu Dhabi and other emirates have to drive to Dubai for prayers and offerings.
The temple compound will include a visitors’ centre, prayer halls, exhibition centre, learning areas, sports area for children and youths, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, a book and gift shop and other facilities.
Sadhu Brahmaviharidas, the chief spokesperson of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, said the generous gift of land for a Hindu temple by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, “was a strong and sound message to the world that cultural and spiritual inclusiveness is the way forward for global harmony”.
It will replicate the BAPS temple in New Delhi and the one under construction in New Jersey, a trust member told the Khaleej Times.
BAPS manages 1,200 temples in India, UK, the US, Australia, Canada and Africa.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s iconic buildings like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame, Adnoc building and the Emirates Palace were lit up in colours of India’s flag ahead of Modi’s visit to the country.
Modi’s high-level engagements here include bilateral meetings with top UAE leaders and a keynote address at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday, in which India is the guest country.
Earlier in the day, Modi was in Ramallah where he received a rousing welcome on the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine.
In keeping with India’s role as a major development aid partner for Palestine, the two sides on Saturday signed six memorandums of understanding (MoUs), including in the areas of health and education, following a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
An MoU was signed for setting up of an India-Palestine super-specialty hospital at Beit Sahour in Bethelhem governorate at a cost of $30 million.
A second MoU was signed for construction of the India-Palestine centre for empowering women called “Turathi” at a cost of $5 million.
Another MoU was signed for setting up of a new National Printing Press at Ramallah at a cost of $5 million.
Two MoUs worth $1.1 million and $1 million envisage construction of two schools at Tamoon village in Tubas governorate and Muthalth Al Shuhada village respectively.
A sixth MoU was signed for the construction of an additional floor at Jawahar Lal Nehru School for Boys at Abu Dees.
Prime Minister Modi arrived earlier in the day on a three-hour visit, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine.
Palestine is the first leg of Modi’s three-nation tour of West Asia and the Gulf that will also see him going to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. (IANS)