Proud of diaspora, will deepen India's bilateral ties with UAE, Qatar: Modi (LD)
New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) Hailing the Indian diaspora ahead of his two-day visit to the UAE and Qatar beginning on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of close, friendly ties and said he will deepen bilateral relations with the two nations.
This will be the Prime Minister's seventh visit to the UAE and second visit to Qatar since 2014.
"Over the next two days, I will be visiting UAE and Qatar to attend various programmes, which will deepen India's bilateral relations with these nations," the Prime Minister wrote on X on Tuesday as he spoke of "the priority we attach to strong India-UAE friendship."
"I am eager to meet my brother, HH @MohamedBinZayed (UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan). I will have the honour of inaugurating the first Hindu temple in UAE. I will also address the Indian Community at a community programme in Abu Dhabi," Modi said.
Hailing the Indian diaspora's efforts to deepen New Delhi's engagement with the world, the PM said he looks forward to meeting the community at the ‘Hello Modi (Alhan Modi)’ event at the Zayed Sports City in UAE.
Roughly 8,40,000 Indians reside in Qatar, and at 3.5 million, the community forms the largest expatriate group in the UAE, forming an 'important connect' between the host and mother countries.
"We are very proud of our diaspora and their efforts to deepen India’s engagement with the world. This evening, I look forward to being among UAE’s Indian diaspora at the #AhlanModi programme! Do join this memorable occasion," Modi wrote on X.
Ahead of inaugurating the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi on February 14, the PM said in his departure statement that "the BAPS temple will be an enduring tribute to the values of harmony, peace and tolerance, which both India and the UAE share."
His other engagements include holding wide-ranging discussions with President Al Nahyan on taking the India-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership forward.
The two leaders had met in Gujarat, where Al Nahyan was the Chief Guest at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024.
At the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, PM and Defence Minister of UAE, PM Modi will also address the gathering of world leaders at the World Government Summit in Dubai on February 14, 2024.
"My discussions with Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on the margins of the Summit will focus on strengthening our multifaceted ties with Dubai," Modi said.
The UAE has now become India's second-largest export destination and the third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade currently standing at roughly $85 billion.
The UAE also became the fourth-largest FDI investor in India last year. In Qatar, Modi will meet His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir, "under whose leadership the country continues to witness tremendous growth and transformation."
Modi's visit to Qatar was announced hours after the release of eight Indian former naval officers, detained in the country since August 2022 and sentenced to death by Qatar’s Court of First Instance on October 26 last year.
"India and Qatar enjoy historically close and friendly relations. In recent years, our multifaceted ties have continued to deepen in all spheres including high-level political exchanges, growing trade and investment between two countries, strengthening of our energy partnership, and cooperation in culture and education," PM Modi said.
He lauded the presence of the over 800,000-strong Indian community in Doha as a "testament to our strong people-to-people ties."
Bilateral trade between India and Qatar currently stands at roughly $20 billion, and Qatar is also a significant investor in India across a whole range of economies.