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Rahul Gandhi meeting workers in Dubai. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: India’s Congress party president Rahul Gandhi began his two-day visit to the UAE by meeting hundreds of Indian workers at the Mujamel workers accommodation in Jebel Ali on Friday morning.

Later Gandhi attended an interactive meeting organised by the Indian Business and Professional Council in Dubai. Around 200 invited Indian business leaders and professionals attended the function.

Bobby Naqvi/Gulf News

The Indian economy is failing because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is regurgitating the ideas of the nineties, India’s Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Friday.

Addressing Indian business leaders from the UAE and other Gulf countries, Mr Gandhi said India was facing a major job problem and strategic thinking is required to overcome it.

Bobby Naqvi/Gulf News

Gandhi said India needs new economic ideas to boost growth.

He blamed centralization of powers under Modi for corruption and said election funding must be made transparent.

Bobby Naqvi/Gulf News

He was speaking at an event organized by Indian Business and Professional Council at Grand Hyatt in Dubai. The luncheon gathering was attended by the UAE’s top businessmen and professionals. “India is chaotic but don’t underestimate how big you are.”

Gandhi meeting workers in Dubai

Gandhi while talking to workers in Jebel Ali, Dubai, said: “I want to thank you all," he told them in Hindi. "The success of Dubai, the progress of the UAE, Dubai Metro would not have been possible without your contribution...and made Indians proud."

Rahul Gandhi addressing Indian workers in Dubai. Ashley Hammond/Gulf News

Microphones were passed around so that labourers could pose questions. One such questions came from Arwin Kumal, 48, from Uttar Praddesh, who has worked in Dubai for over five years.

"I asked the Indian government to please look into our problems," he told Gulf News of his request to Gandhi. "And he said he will do whatever he can."

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Rahul Gandhi addressing labourers in Jebel Ali Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Bindra Prasad, 48, also from UP, and a worker in Dubai for 15 years said: "We are very happy he came because he's our leader who will come to power this year.

"You cannot force someone to help you but we hope he will."

Danesh Kumar, 30, from UP who has been here 10 years, added: "I'm happy because at least he came to listen to us. It doesn't matter who it is so long as we get some relief.

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Indian workers in Jebel Ali wait for Rahul Gandhi Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Claiming that he is not a big shot, Gandhi said he is one among them and would always stand by them. "Whatever you want, whatever issues you have, I am ready to listen to you from heart to help solve them," he said.

Gandhi told the workers that there is no need for them to be afraid of anything. "The battle has begun...and we are going to win," he said, hinting at the upcoming general elections in India.

Interacting with the workers, he promised them that Sam Pitroda, the chairman of Indian Overseas Congress who is accompanying him, will discuss the matters they want the party to include in its election manifesto.

Gandhi, who arrived in Dubai on Thursday evening, received a rousing welcome at the Dubai International Airport.

Shouting ‘Rahul-Rahul’, fans, including women, tried to catch a closer glimpse of their leader, give him bouquets and take selfies with him.

Gandhi arrived with Sam Pitroda, chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, and was received by All India Congress Committee secretaries and other senior Congress leaders who had already arrived in preparation for his visit.

A part of his global outreach programme that comes ahead of general elections in India, Gandhi’s visit will see him interact with workers, business leaders, professionals, students and the larger Indian expat community.

The main public event, a cultural meeting of Indian diaspora where Gandhi will be the chief guest, will begin at 4pm at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Gandhi is expected to address a crowd of 25,000 and talk about “the Idea of India” in the context of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation.

He will speak on the current relevance of Gandhi’s ethos on tolerance, which is also the theme of the Year of Tolerance in the UAE.

He is also expected to speak on the issues faced by the NRIs and give them assurances about what he can do to resolve them.

On Saturday morning, Gandhi will address Indian university students in Dubai before heading to Abu Dhabi.

Gandhi will be visiting Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque and pay tributes to the 100 Years of Zayed.

He will also attend another meeting with business leaders and professionals in Abu Dhabi, organised by the Indian Business and Professional Group.