Abu Dhabi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday lay the foundation stone for the first Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, which is home to a huge Indian diaspora.
This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE after August 2015. He was scheduled to arrive here in the evening.
“The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will come up on 55,000 square metres of land and the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday will be a historic event,” said Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri.
The Indian leader will be laying the foundation stone for the temple from the Dubai Opera House via video conferencing. He will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community.
“The occasion is going to be historic… because it will also see the commencement of the first Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi. We are very pleased that we have received 55,000 square metres of land near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway,” said Suri.
The temple’s construction will be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds.
It will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East, said a spokesperson from the BAPS Swaminarayanan Sanstha that is entrusted with the design, construction and management of the temple.
The temple will be hand-carved by Indian temple artisans and assembled in the UAE, said the BAPS spokesperson.
The UAE has two Hindu temples which are located in Dubai. Devotees from Abu Dhabi and other emirates have to drive to Dubai for prayers and offerings.
The temple compound will include a visitors’ centre, prayer halls, exhibition centre, learning areas, sports area for children and youths, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, a books and gift shop and other facilities.
Sadhu Brahmaviharidas, the chief spokesperson of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, said the generous gift of land for a Hindu temple by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, “was a strong and sound message to the world that cultural and spiritual inclusiveness is the way forward for global harmony”.
It will replicate the BAPS temple in New Delhi and the one under construction in New Jersey, a trust member told the Khaleej Times.
BAPS manages 1,200 temples in India, UK, the US, Australia, Canada and Africa.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s iconic buildings like the the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame, Adnoc bulding and the Emirates Palace were lit up in colours of India’s flag ahead of Modi’s visit to the country.
Modi’s high-level engagements here include bilateral meetings with top UAE leaders and a keynote address at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday, in which India is the guest country.
Earlier in the day, Modi was in Ramallah where he received a rousing welcome on the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine.