190120 Modi
Modi Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Indian expats are thrilled at the announcement of their Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third visit to the UAE this weekend, despite him not holding an official public meeting this time.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Monday announced that Modi is scheduled to reach the UAE from Paris on Friday and will hold official engagements in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

However, the agenda announced at a press conference in New Delhi, which was live-streamed on social media, did not mention any public meeting, which several Indian expats were hoping for.

“There will be delegation-level talks with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as well as the presentation of the Order of Zayed, the highest civil decoration of the UAE on the PM followed by a banquet hosted in honour of the Prime Minister,” announced T.S. Tirumurti, secretary, economic relations, at MEA.

Gandhi stamp, RuPay card

Tirumurti said a commemorative stamp of Mahatma Gandhi will be released on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary.

“Arrangements for the launch of RuPay card in the UAE will also be put in place,” he added.

RuPay is the first-of-its-kind debit and credit card from the National Payments Corporation of India.

RuPay Global allows international purchases and cash access outside the country. Modi also launched the card during his visit to Bhutan on Saturday.

Indian expats expressed their happiness about their prime minister visiting the UAE once again within a gap of one-and-a-half years.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri tweeted that the visit will be “another important milestone in India’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with the UAE.”

Yousuf Ali M.A., chairman and managing director, Lulu Group, said Modi’s visit marks “truly an amazing and remarkable phase in the long and historic relationship between two great countries”.

“The third visit of PM Modi to the UAE emphatically underlines the importance and respect India has for the UAE. Obviously, the highlight of the visit is the presentation of the Zayed Medal, the highest civilian honour of the UAE, and I see this as an honour for India and [all the] Indians residing here in the most harmonious, peaceful, prosperous and tolerant country in the world,” he said.

“I would say this is the golden era of UAE-Indo trade relationship and that is aptly visible in many sectors, right from oil to trade, infrastructure development to tourism and aviation,” he added.

Indo-UAE economic relations

Kamal Vachani, group director of Al Maya, said the visit will further boost economic relations between India and UAE.

“Both countries already enjoy a great relationship with a large Indian population in the UAE. The Indian businessmen here enjoy a great atmosphere living and doing business in the UAE. We are looking forward to better trade and investment ties between the two countries with this visit,” said Vachani, who is also the chairman of the Dubai chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin.

Adeeb Ahmad, MD, LuLu Financial Group and Twenty14 Holdings, said the visit is an affirmation of the close-knit ties between the two countries.

“We are truly blessed to be a part of the prolific UAE-India growth story and we look forward to having a truly fruitful visit by the prime minister. We are confident that this visit will also provide further momentum to increase trade and investment on both sides.”

Sudhesh Giriyan, CEO, Xpress Money, a Finablr company, welcomed the decision to launch RuPay card in the UAE.

“Since the UAE has the largest Indian diaspora and witnesses thousands of Indian tourists every year, it is very relevant and timely to launch the card here. Indians domestically have enjoyed a host of benefits with the RuPay Card which will now be extended internationally.”

Dubai resident Sajeev Purushothaman said: “It will be a proud moment for Indians when he receives the prestigious Zayed Medal. We are expecting our PM’s presence in the UAE next year again during Expo 2020 in Dubai and the opening of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi.”

Missed chance

Six-year-old Veer, a student of Delhi Private School, Dubai, was one of many Modi fans looking forward to meeting the PM.

His father Sandeep Sharma on Sunday tweeted a video of Veer’s request to help him meet Modi. Tagging top Indian officials in the ministry and at diplomatic missions here, he asked if they could help grant Veer’s wish.