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Yousuf Ali MA, Chairman and managing director of LuLu Group congratulates Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed during Modi's recent visit to UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Witnessing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi receiving the UAE’s highest civilian honour on Saturday was his life’s proudest moment, retail tycoon Yousuf Ali M.A., chairman and managing director of LuLu Group, said.

“It was the proudest moment of my life to witness my prime minister receiving the highest civilian honour of this great country, which is home to millions of Indians, including me,” Yousuf Ali told Gulf News in an interview.

As a Non-Resident Indian for four decades, Yousuf Ali said, the high point of Modi’s visit for him was personally witnessing the historic moment of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, presenting the Order of Zayed to Modi.

“Shaikh Zayed was a great personality and philanthropist. He was a great administrator and a people-loving leader. All Indians are honoured that the Indian prime minister has received this medal in the name of the UAE’s founding father,” Yousuf Ali said.

Being able to congratulate Modi in the presence of Shaikh Mohamed Bin Zayed is something he will cherish all his life, Yousuf Ali stated.

Modi’s third visit in four years shows the UAE’s immense respect and appreciation for India and eagerness to bolster bilateral relations, he observed.

New momentum

Yousuf Ali, who was also present during Modi’s visit to Bahrain, said Bahrain’s Prime Minister receiving Modi, the first Indian premier to visit the country, and the king hosting a banquet in his honour also showed Bahrain’s respect for its strong relations with India.

“The Modi magic was once again on display during the public meeting attended by a huge crowd despite the heat. It was evident from the standing ovation and the rapturous welcome that the PM received,” Yousuf Ali said.

Though short, he said Modi’s visits to both the UAE and Bahrain have given new momentum to India’s relations with Gulf countries.

Investment plans

Yousuf Ali said he was impressed with the launch of RuPay card and Modi’s interaction with key business leaders.

“The way in which business leaders appreciated his initiatives and supported his recommendations, whether the need to promote the RuPay card, or his call to invest in different sectors in India and specifically in Kashmir, was remarkable.”

During the roundtable discussion with Modi, Yousuf Ali said he intended to implement RuPay digital transactions across all his 174 super and hypermarkets in 22 countries that housed 4,000 retailers.

“For consumers who shop at the month-end when their savings have dwindled, the RuPay card will help them carry out digital transactions easily with their rupee savings…We are happy to introduce the card as we cater to a large segment of the society,” Yousuf Ali said.

He also announced that LuLu Group was sending a logistics and procurement team to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to hire staff and source products and raw material.

LuLu is also looking forward to setting up a procurement and logistics centre to import famed-Kashmiri fresh produce to the UAE and other Gulf countries, he added.