Prime Minister Narendra Modi will witness video link to ground breaking (‘shila pujan’) for the first ever temple in Abu Dhabi during his forthcoming visit to West Asia — Palestine, UAE & Oman — between Feb 9-12 .
Currently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has only one temple for Hindu worshippers, and that is in Dubai.
The UAE government had announced it was allocating land in Abu Dhabi to build a temple during Modi’s first visit to the emirates in 2015 and allocated 20,000 square metres of land in Al Wathba. The temple is being privately funded.
There are as much as 2.6 million Indians in the UAE, accounting for 30% of its total population.
Modi will arrive in Abu Dhabi on February 10 evening and will travel to Dubai the next day. He is expected to address Indian community reception at the Dubai Opera on February 11, a Sunday. As many as 1,800 people are expected to participate in the event. Modi will also be a star attraction at the sixth World Government Summit — a three-day annual event in Dubai that will see India as the guest country — on February 11. Security and economic partnerships between India and the UAE have been on the upswing since Modi’s visit in 2015. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest at 2017 Republic Day parade in New Delhi.
Modi will start his West Asia from Palestine. He is expected to land in Jordan to enter Palestine on February 9. This could also provide Modi an opportunity to meet Jordan’s leadership ahead of the visit of Jordan King Abdullah II to India later in the month. Jordan also plays an important role in the Israeli -Palestinian question and the fate of Jerusalem. It is the custodian of Al-Aqsa Mosque in old city of Jerusalem (third holy site in Islam) and therefore has significant say in Palestinian affairs. The mosque remains under the administration of the Jordanian/Palestinianled Islamic Waqf.
India has, over the decades, called for a “two-state solution” to end the conflict in West Asia and it hopes to use its good offices with both Israel and Palestine to contribute to the peace process.