Nahyan and Mani Suri, the Indian ambassador’s wife, pay tributes to Gandhi at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: ISC

Abu Dhabi: The UAE represents a miniature of India’s diversity, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, said here on Monday evening.

“In 2018, our diversity somewhat resembles a miniature version of India’s. People from some 200 countries live and work together peacefully in the UAE,” Al Nahyan said at an event in the capital.

He was addressing a gathering as the chief guest at a ceremony to launch yearlong celebrations of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre (ISC) in Abu Dhabi. The event was organised by the Indian Embassy in association with the ISC and Gandhi Sahitya Vedi.

“The diverse elements of our population has gained new energy from their interactions with others in global society. By welcoming the world to the UAE, the late Shaikh Zayed [Bin Sultan Al Nahyan] acted in accord with Mahatma Gandhi’s belief that “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive,” Shaikh Nahyan said.

“We are fortunate that this celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary is coinciding with Shaikh Zayed’s centenary celebrations. Although fifty years separate their birth, many of their thoughts and actions are remarkably similar,” he said.

The Gandhi-Zayed digital museum that is being finalised will graphically reveal how two visionary leaders shared same principles and values, Shaikh Nahyan said.

Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, announced a number of events to mark the yearlong celebrations.

Monday’s event started with ceremonious lighting of the lamp followed by floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi by Shaikh Nahyan and the ambassador along with the ISC Patron Yousuf Ali M.A and other dignitaries. A short film on the message of Gandhi was also screened.

Shaikh Nahyan and the ambassador released a set of seven commemorative circular postage stamps on Gandhi as a tribute to the great leader.

A video of a musical rendition of a famous bhajan (devotional song) very dear to Gandhi ‘Vaishnav Janato’ by the eminent Emirati singer Yasser Habeeb attracted praise from the audience. Two young Indian artistes Trolee Dutta on sarod and Soumen Hazra on tabla presented a live instrumental rendition of bhajans ‘Vaishnav Janato’ and ‘Raghupati Raghav’.