Gandhi with Dr Sam Pitroda. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Congress party president Rahul Gandhi concluded his two-day visit to the UAE with a press briefing in Dubai on Saturday. Follow the highlights of his visit here:

8.45pm

Excerpts from Rahul Gandhi’s media address

Love for the UAE and what he is taking back from the visit

“I am taking back with me the spirit of our community, love and affection of the UAE and the idea that India’s diaspora needs to be utilised. I am also taking back the idea of tolerance, an Indian idea that has been attacked in our own country.”

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

On Sabarimala:

“I have heard both the arguments. My initial position was different than my position today. I can see validity in both the arguments (to protect tradition and to protect women’s rights).

I cannot give you an open and shut argument. I leave it to the people of Kerala to decide. I am not going to comment on the Supreme Court verdict.”

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

On controversy over ‘woman’ remark

Rahul Gandhi dismissed the controversy over his remarks on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Last week, Gandhi was accused of making a “misogynistic and offensive” remark when he said: “The watchman with a 56-inch chest ran away and told a woman, Sitharaman Ji, defend me. I won’t be able to defend myself, defend me.?

On Saturday in Dubai, he responded to the controversy by saying: “Don’t impose your sexism on me. The central issue is Rafale.”

8.20pm

Rahul Gandhi answers questions from the media persons in Dubai as he is about to conclude his two day visit to the UAE.

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

8.10pm

Rahul: Congress will fight with full force in UP

By Bobby Naqvi, UAE Editor and Faisal Masudi, Staff Reporter

India’s Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have taken a political decision and Congress will fight with “full force” and will spread our ideology in Uttar Pradesh.

“We will create our own space,” he said.

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

He was reacting to the announcement by Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday that the two parties will fight 2019 elections from 38 seats each, leaving nothing for Congress, Gandhi said.

“The BSP and SP have every right to have the alliance. We will fight in UP.”  Read the full report

8.00pm

Watch: Rahul Gandhi meets the media in Dubai

3.01pm

Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Congress president Rahul Gandhi speaks at the event of the Indian Business and Professional Group (IBPG).

2.30pm

Rahul Gandhi arrives at the venue in Abu Dhabi where a meeting business leaders is to be held.

1.30pm

Shaikh Nahayan Bin Mubarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, receives Rahul Gandhi in Abu Dhabi, at the lunch the minister hosted for Gandhi's delegation. "He is a true friend of India & I look forward to working with him to strengthen the relationship between our countries," Gandhi tweeted.

10.30am

India needs you, Gandhi tells students in Dubai

Congress president asks tough questions during interactive session with students at IMT Dubai

Dubai: Indian students studying in the UAE will have an increasingly important role to play in shaping the future of India, Congress party president Rahul Gandhi told students at the Institute of Management Technology Dubai on Saturday.

Speaking on the second day of his two-day visit to the UAE, Gandhi said NRI (Non-Resident Indian) students’ knowledge and understanding will serve the interests of India and be beneficial to the UAE as well.

You’re NRIs… You have a role in India, and it's a role that will increase, not decrease...I'm very proud of what you do and I know you will serve India and the UAE very effectively.

- Rahul Gandhi tells NRI students in Dubai

“You’re NRIs… You have a role in India, and it's a role that will increase, not decrease,” he told students during an interactive session with them.

Gandhi said India will need the “help and service ” from NRI graduates in solving job and agriculture “crises” in India. He added that India is currently suffering from “the highest rate of unemployment in over a decade… It's important that India accepts we have a job crisis and an agricultural crisis. These two have to be resolved and they will require your help and service”.

He added: “I'm very proud of what you do and I know you will serve India and the UAE very effectively.”

Another main challenge facing India is the “intolerance that is visible today in India… We don't like an India that is divided… where people are beaten up and killed for what they say; where journalists are shot. That's the real challenge in the next election and a large number to people aren't happy with what's going on”.

Interactive

The interactive session saw Gandhi take a variety of questions from students on healthcare, women's empowerment, industry, business, education, etc — and also pose a few questions of his own.

Gandhi asked various students questions such as what they would do as prime minister of India, where they would work and why, how can there be unity in diversity, how the Middle East is different from India, and others.

“I can ask tough questions,” Gandhi said in a light moment with students. He is scheduled to visit Abu Dhabi later on Saturday to meet business leaders.

On Friday, Gandhi had addressed tens of thousands of India expats at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium

- By Faisal Masudi, Staff Reporter

10.10am

Rahul has a packed day today. After the interaction with students Rahul Gandhi will move on to Abu Dhabi where he has a meeting with business leaders.

This will be followed by a visit to Shaikh Zayed Mosque and meetings with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Shaikh Nahayan Bin Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance. He will then return to Dubai and address a media conference in the evening.

9.45am

Rahul interacts with students

9.30am

Rahul about to arrive at IMT Dubai

Rahul Gandhi's visit to the UAE - Day 1

India’s Congress party president Rahul Gandhi began his two-day visit to the UAE on Friday. The main public event was held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Gandhi talked about ‘The Idea of India’ in the context of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi in front of a packed audience of about 50,000 people. Here's how the events of Day 1 unfolded:

8.00pm

Rahul Gandhi made a passionate plea for all the expatriate Indians to unite in fight against the growing intolerance back home in India. “In the UAE we are celebrating the Year of Tolerance, while back home in India, there has been four-and-a-half years of intolerance,” he said without naming the ruling party.

Excerpts from his speech:

"In the UAE we are celebrating the Year of Tolerance, while back home in India, there has been four-and-a-half years of intolerance." 

"Today in India, my beloved country is being divided. I want NRIs to hear this. It is being divided for political benefit. Divided on religion. The poor and rich are being divided." 

Rahul Gandhi addresses Indian expats at Dubai International Cricket Stadium Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

"The first task we have to do. Every single Indian is responsible all over the world. We have to bring India together again. We have to be one again. India cannot be divided.. We are fighting one another, abusing one another. Doesn’t make sense."

"Till the day I die my doors, ears and heart are open for you. You will always have space. Some want a Congress Mukt Bharat. I don’t want a BJP Mukt Bharat."

"I call for a united India. Not a divided country. Tolerance, brotherhood and multiple religions. That’s India."

"Non-violence is embedded in the DNA of India. Mahatma Gandhi picked up the idea of non-violence from all religions. Violence doesn’t help achieve anything."

"My doors are open for you. Tell me how I can help. I am at your service. We are facing an electoral battle in 2019. We will win that battle and bring everyone together and move forward."

"My brothers and sisters from Andhra Pradesh. We will win and I will grant Andhra Pradesh special status." 

Rahul Gandhi lauds Shaikh Mohammad, UAE

Starting his speech thanking the leaders of the UAE, especially President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Rahul Gandhi conveyed his love and admiration for the UAE.

Gandhi was all praise for Shaikh Mohammad whom he met earlier in the day before heading to the public event.

Lauding Shaikh Mohammad for his mission and vision of Dubai and for contributing more than 50 years for this country, Gandhi said he was enchanted by the most important expression of His Highness when he met him, which was his humility.

“The number one emotion that I experienced in His Highness is his humility.”

“What he has achieved here is with humility and an absolute lack of any arrogance.

Great nations are built with that type of humility.”

He praised Shaikh Mohammad as a leader who listens and appreciates not just his people, but people of all the countries.

6.40pm

Excerpts from the speech of Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy:

“Rahulji is coming here as the INC president today. Next time when he comes, we are sure he will be coming as India’s Prime Minister."

"This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi and the Year of Tolerance in the UAE. Gandhi’s life principles were based on tolerance which is lost in the world now."

"This stadium is now a mini India. Rahulji is coming to address that India and help us get back the values that we have lost in our country."

"This is a historic event and I appreciate the organizers for the grand success of the event."

Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy speaking in Dubai Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

6.30pm

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai received Rahul Gandhi, Indian politician and president of the Indian National Congress, Dubai Media House has tweeted.

6.25pm

Excerpts from the speech of PK Kunhalikutty, National General Secretary of Indian Union Muslim League:

“We are really proud about Rahulji. He is born to be the leader of India. India needs a secular asset. There is only one leader in India who can be that now. People are looking at Rahul as that leader to save them. The youth needs jobs and growth and a developed India. The world is looking at India again."

"During the time of Manmohan Singh the whole world thought that India is going to be a superpower. That Bharat is going to come back again."

"This stadium is not enough for Rahul. He is a leader not just for the INC. He is the leader for all the parties that believe in secularism. In this foreign soil I’m not saying anything to criticize anyone, but the only thing that what India needs now is the secular legacy of the Nehru family. Let’s all wait for that day when Rahul will be the PM of India”

6.00pm

Crowds carrying the Indian flag walk across the stadium. Huda Tabrez/Gulf News

6.10pm

Tariq Anwar Dubai resident on the importance of Rahul Gandhi’s visit. Huda Tabrez/Gulf News

5.15pm

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Congress supporters sing and shout slogans hailing Rahul Gandhi as the stadium is getting jam packed. Cultural programmes are beginning with a Bharatanatyam performance.

5.00pm

Himanshu Vyas, P.K Kunhalikutty and Oommen Chandy Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

AICC General Secretaries Himanshu Vyas and Oommen Chandy, Former Kerala CM, and P.K. Kunhalikutty, National General Secretary of Indian Union Muslim League, the main leaders who have come from India to help organize Rahul Gandhi’s UAE visit seated in the front row at the public event in Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

4.55pm

Thousands of UAE expatriates were seen milling into the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to hear the speech by Rahul Gandhi Gulf News reader Hisham Abbas

4.45pm

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Frenzied followers throng AICC General secretary and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as he just arrived at the stadium. He is also the member of Indian National Congress Working Committee.

4.35pm

Huda Tabrez/Gulf News

4.30pm

Many people said they had to walk long distances to reach the stadium as their cars would not be allowed too close to the venue.

Achu Oommen Image Credit: Sharmila Dhal/Gulf News

Many people said they had to walk long distances to reach the stadium as their cars would not be allowed too close to the venue. Achu Oommen, event organizer and daughter of former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy, said they were expecting 40,000 to 50,000 people this evening, so enough room had to be created for the 1,000 buses bringing them in. ‘We have also organised shuttle buses to and from different points," she added.

4.20pm

Dubai-based Businessman Mohammad Akbar from Mumbai who had come with his family said he has been a staunch Congressman since his childhood. “Rahul Gandhi stands for change - look how much of a change he has brought in the Congress party itself in the last one year. He is our future,” said Mohammad Akbar.

Mohammad Akbar with his family Image Credit: Sharmila Dhal/Gulf News

4.15pm

A group of men said they specially got themselves Rahul Gandhi’s trademark green jacket for the event to express solidarity with their leader.

Sharmila Dhal/Gulf News

4.10pm

Congress supporters from Kerala Shamsudheen M, Bino Kozhuvallur and Muthu Pardhur who came from Ajman to support their young leader said Rahul Gandhi is the new hope for Indian expatriates to find solutions for their long-pending issues.

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

“The Indian community has high expectations from the UAE visit of Rahul Gandhi. We are expecting to find solutions to a lot of issues we face,” said Muthu.

Bino said he considered the event a platform for Indian expats to hold their heads high in pride in front of the world. “We are expecting NRI-friendly announcements from him,” he said.

“We love him and respect him. That is why we reached here at 10am itself to catch the front row seats for the general public,” said Shamsudheen.

3.50pm

Crowds shout slogans supporting Rahul Gandhi and Congress Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

3.40pm

Shujat Nabi from Uttar Pradesh, Yassir Haider and MD Asdullah from Delhi, who are colleagues in a company in Fujairah, said they left their accommodation at 10:30am to come to Dubai early to meet and support their leader.

“We are all very excited to welcome him and support him. We all want to see him as our next Prime Minister in 2019 elections,” said Shujat.

Shujat Nabi, Yassir Haider and MD Asdullah left their accommodation in Fujairah at 10.30am to come to Dubai early and support their leader. Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Asdullah said he likes Rahul as he is a hardworking leader and supports everyone.

“He is supporting the poor people, farmers and all people.”

3.20pm

Scores of student volunteers from different universities and nationalities were at hand to usher in guests and discharge other duties. Among them were Euan from Scotland who said, “I cant say a lot about Rahul Gandhi, but I am learning about him.” Sikander from Pakistan said he was here as it was a volunteering oppirtunity.

Scores of student volunteers from different universities and nationalities were at hand to usher in guests and discharge other duties Image Credit: Sharmila Dhal/Gulf News

Hadeel from Yemen said, “I love Indian food and am learning more about India now.”

2.55pm

Stage is set for Rahul Gandhi’s public meeting in Dubai International Cricket Stadium Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

2.47pm

Hundreds of people are pouring into Dubai International Cricket Stadium to attend the public meeting of Rahul Gandhi. Some people were seen selling T-shirts and caps bearing the image of Gandhi.

“Dh20..Dh20,” one man was shouted in Hindi as some fans approached him to purchase the customized merchandise.