Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: India’s Congress party president Rahul Gandhi will address Indian expatriates at Dubai International Cricket Stadium at Sports City during his two-day maiden visit to the UAE, organisers told Gulf News.

As part of his international outreach, Gandhi will arrive in Dubai on January 11 and will address the Indian community at 4pm on the same day at the cricket stadium which has the capacity of 25,000. “We have got permission from the authorities and we are expecting a sizeable crowd,” Himanshu Vyas, secretary of All India Congress Committee told Gulf News. Gandhi will be the second Indian leader to attend a community event since August 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a packed crowd at the stadium during his official visit.

“The theme of the stadium event is ‘Gandhi 150 years: The idea of India’,” he said. Earlier in the day on January 11, Gandhi will attend a luncheon hosted by Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) and is expected to interact with a group of students, Vyas said.

The following day, Gandhi will visit Abu Dhabi where he will visit Shaikh Zayed Mosque, attend a meeting organised by Indian Business and Professional Group and an event organised by India Social and Cultural in the evening. “We are holding a luncheon meeting in Abu Dhabi for 200 people and also there is a public meeting at ISC in the evening,” Dr B.R. Shetty, chairman of the group said.

“Indians in UAE are looking forward to the imminent visit by Mr Rahul Gandi… Of late, he has become a mature and seasoned politician who is addressing the crucial issues facing the country. His impeccable integrity and highly secular outlook endears him to many, who see him as a future Prime Minsiter of India. He is very well placed to strengthen the strategic relationship between India and UAE nurtured by his father, grand mother and great grand father who were all past Prime Ministers of India,” said Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman & Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare.

Gandhi’s tour will only be the second high-profile visit of a Congress president leader in 37 years after his grandmother and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who came in 1981. After taking over as the party chief in December 2017, Gandhi has toured several countries, including Bahrain, United States, Singapore, and Malaysia and interacted with the Indian diaspora and met academics and officials of those countries.

The visit comes at a time when the UAE-India bilateral ties have grown since Modi’s visit in August 2015 and later in February 2018 when he addressed the World Government Summit in Dubai. Since then, the relationship gained momentum at the government, business and cultural levels and bilateral cooperation and exchanges have grown.

The visit will be closely watched by Indian expatriates as Gandhi’s party has recently won three major states and has emerged as a major challenger to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of parliamentary elections in May 2019.