PM to lay foundation stone of temple in UAE

Three-nation tour will begin in Palestine and end in Oman

February 06, 2018 12:20 am | Updated 12:21 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone of a temple in Abu Dhabi during his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the External Affairs Ministry said on Monday. The event will be part of a three-nation tour from February 9 to 12, starting in Palestine, where Mr. Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit and pay tributes at the memorial of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

“As part of a community engagement programme, he will be meeting top professionals and, in that, there will be a special event, which will be the laying of the foundation stone of a Hindu temple,” said Mridul Kumar, Joint Secretary in charge of the Gulf region.

India’s demand

The UAE granted the temple project after India conveyed the demand of its nationals for a place of worship during Mr. Modi’s 2015 visit to the country.

“The structure of the temple, the deities and the idols are aspects that the Indian community will have to work out with the UAE government,” said Mridul Kumar, Joint Secretary in charge of the Gulf region, explaining that members of the Indian community will manage the place of worship in coordination with the UAE authorities.

Officials said it indicated the “commitment of the UAE to diversity”.

Apart from the symbolic religious moment, Mr. Modi will visit the Wahat Al Karama, the memorial to fallen soldiers of the UAE.

He will also address the World Government Summit in Dubai.

The Hindu had reported earlier that Mr. Modi would begin his visit from the Jordanian capital of Amman, from where he will be travelling to the West Bank territory of Palestine.

Technical halt

Officials said the halt in Amman would be “technical”.

“We have de-hyphenated Israel and Palestine and we see them as mutually independent parts of the policy the Prime Minister is undertaking,” said B. Balabhaskar, Joint Secretary in charge of the West Asia and North Africa (WANA) division.

Mr. Modi will visit a Shiva temple in Oman during his first visit to that country on February 12. He will hold bilateral meetings with the two Prime Ministers of Oman.

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