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first_imgWith terror and investments high on his agenda for talks with the UAE leadership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday began his two-day trip to this strategic Gulf nation with a visit to the historic Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque, the world’s third largest.Within hours of his arrival in the UAE capital for the visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years, Modi went around the mosque’s 180,000 sq ft courtyard which has an exquisite floral design. It is considered to be the largest example of marble mosaic in the world.Selfie diplomacyUAE culture minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and minister of state for foreign affairs Dr Anwar Gargash were present at the mosque and Modi took a selfie with them.The Prime Minister, wearing a kurta with a cream and red stole, spent about 40 minutes at the mosque, built at an estimated cost of USD 545 million, evincing interest at the imposing 82 domes in seven sizes located inside the worshipping place.”I am delighted to visit this magnificent place of worship, strikes with its size and beauty. It brings together requisite skills and creation from around the world and serves as a fine example of human achievement and unity. I am confident that it will be a symbol of peace, piety, harmony and inclusiveness that are inherent to the faith of Islam,” Modi wrote on the visitor’s book.”It will also serve to remind generations about the extraordinary vision of the late president of UAE his highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” he wrote.advertisementMany Indians had come to see Modi at the mosque.The Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque, a key place of worship in the UAE, is known as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.The mosque is third largest in the world after the ones in Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia. It is named after the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.The mosque, constructed from 1996 to 2007, can accommodate around 40,000 people.The Prime Minister was earlier warmly received by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi along with his five brothers at the airport, in a departure from protocol. The last dignitary to be received by him was the King of Morocco in May this year.Soon after his arrival, Modi tweeted, “Hello UAE. I am very optimistic about this visit. I am confident the outcomes of the visit will boost India-UAE ties.” He also tweeted the message in Arabic.Modi said, “I deeply appreciate kind gesture of his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who received me at the airport.” The Prime Minister was also accorded a ceremonial reception at the airport.UAE allots land for building templeThe UAE on Sunday decided to allot land for building a temple here, the first in the Emirati capital as Prime Minister Narendra Modi today began his two-day visit to the strategic Gulf nation.Modi thanked the UAE leadership for this “landmark” decision.While there are two temples in Dubai, one of Lord Shiva and another of Krishna, there is none in Abu Dhabi.”A long wait for the Indian community ends. On the occasion of PM’s visit, UAE Govt decides to allot land for building a temple in Abu Dhabi,” tweeted external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.”PM @narendramodi thanks UAE leadership for this landmark decision,” he said.There are nearly 2.6 million Indians in UAE which constitutes 30 per cent of the total population. Trade on agendaApart from seeking enhanced cooperation in energy and trade, Modi, during the visit, will reach out to investors to promote India as an attractive business destination.Visit’s focus on trade and investments is also reflected in the fact that Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is hosting a dinner in honour of the Prime Minister.ADIA has USD 800 billion sovereign funds and India is expected to woo it to attract investments in the infrastructure sector.India-UAE trade, valued at USD 180 million (Dirham 660.6 million) per annum in the 1970s, is today around USD 60 billion, making the UAE, India’s third largest trading partner for the year 2014-15 after China and the US.Modi also interacted with Indian workers at their camps I-CAD to know the problems they face and discussed ways Indian government can help them.The I-CAD Residential Labour Camp houses thousands of migrant labourers from the Indian subcontinent in an area spread over one square kilometre.advertisementAbout 2.6 million Indians constitute nearly 30 per cent of the population of this country.Notably, a large portion of the 2.6 million Indians in the UAE are from Bihar and many are Muslims.Security agencies of both nations had cleared a select group of 300 migrant workers to interact with Modi in a modest 20X40-metre sports hall on the premises. Much to the delight of the workers, Modi posed for group photographs.Soon after his arrival in the UAE, Modi tweeted, “Hello UAE. I am very optimistic about this visit. I am confident the outcomes of the visit will boost India-UAE ties.” He also tweeted the message in Arabic.Modi said, “I deeply appreciate kind gesture of his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who received me at the airport.” The Prime Minister was also accorded a ceremonial reception at the airport.Hails UAE’s vision, skillMarvelling at the UAE’s spectacular achievements, Modi described the Gulf nation as a paradise built up in a desert with unmatched vision and remarkable skill.”I have always thought, how this paradise could come up in a desert? What vision! What remarkable skill!” Modi said of the country.Earlier, ahead of Modi’s trip, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the Prime Minister’s maiden visit to the UAE provides a strategic opportunity to draw a new blueprint for taking bilateral ties forward, including in areas of counter-terrorism, defence and economy.”Our shared values and strong bilateral ties provide an important basis on which the UAE and India can elevate their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership,” he was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE provides an opportunity to chart a new course in our partnership for the 21st century. We look forward to a productive exchange of ideas covering a wide range of economic, political and security issues of mutual interest,” he said.Noting that his visit comes at a time when bilateral ties have never been warmer, he said: “The prime minister’s visit is of strategic significance in our bilateral relations and follows on the heels of growing diplomatic, economic, energy and defence cooperation between our two countries.”Asserting that terrorism poses a grave danger to humanity, Modi said all those countries who believe in humanity, must stand together without delay as it was extremely necessary to challenge the forces of terrorism.”As far as the Indian community is concerned, the languages that are spoken in India, are all spoken in the UAE! In a manner of speaking, the UAE is a ‘Mini India’. The way the two communities work together represents a special bond,” Modi, who will address a gathering of over 50,000 Indian expatriates in Dubai tomorrow, said.He said the Indian community was not only contributing to the progress and development of the host country, but also participating in the economic development of India through their remittances.”I have no doubt that with the overall economic reform programme in progress, they will find India an attractive, stable and secure destination for their investment and savings,” Modi added.advertisementlast_img read more