PM Narendra Modi entered the last leg of his three-nation tour on Sunday, landing in Muscat to visit India’s closest ally in the region, Oman. Before he flew on to Muscat, the PM, wrapping up a state visit to the UAE, reiterated strong cooperation on combating terrorism and a defence partnership that will see the Indian Navy conducting an exercise in the Gulf waters.
Addressing the World Government Summit in Dubai, Modi highlighted the importance of assimilating technology with governance to ensure equitable growth, a key message relating to his government’s programmes promoting inclusive growth through banking and DBT. He also met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai.
A joint statement issued at the end of Modi’s visit focused substantially on a joint approach to tackling terrorism and radicalisation. Indian institutions will cooperate with Sawab and Hedayah of the UAE, two entities that are actively addressing radical thoughts and actions at the level of religious places, schools and among the youth.
With defence and security moving up in importance, the joint statement said, “Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) formed under the existing defence cooperation agreement has been meeting regularly. The two leaders welcomed the decision taken during the latest round of JDCC held in New Delhi in December 2017 to conduct the first bilateral naval exercise during 2018.” This is the first time Indian Navy will be exercising in the Gulf, going beyond the Arabian Sea. Modi told his audience that India aspired to assume leadership position in Artificial Intelligence, nanotechnology, cyber security and cloud computing.
Modi also launched a project for construction of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, describing the holy place as a “catalytic agent” of humanity and harmony that will become a medium of India’s identity. He laid the foundation stone for the Swaminarayan temple, to be built on 55,000 sqm of land on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway, keeping local religious sentiments in mind while making it a place of worship for all manner of Hindus, whatever their chosen deity. “I would like to request all those associated with the construction of the temple that the rulers here have shown so much respect for India. They have been proud of India’s cultural history. Now, it’s our responsibility that there is no mistake on our part,” he told the gathering. Modi asked people associated with construction of the temple and also worshippers not to cause any harm to others. “This is my expectation from you,” he added.