Indian PM Modi opens Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened a grand Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, capping off a two-day visit to the UAE.

A day earlier, tens of thousands of Indians filled the Zayed Sports City stadium in the capital, cheering on Modi who is seeking a third term in India's upcoming general election.

Modi's visit to one of India's largest trading partners showed how the Hindu nationalist has deepened New Delhi's relations with the Middle East.

The UAE government gifted the 27 acres (11 hectares) in Abu Dhabi where the grand temple was built at a cost of about $95 million by the Hindu BAPS organisation that was founded in Modi's home state of Gujarat more than a century ago.

Accompanied by Hindu religious leaders and monks, Modi offered prayers and performed rituals as he toured the temple in an event that was attended by members of the UAE government, Bollywood actors and the Indian community.

"This temple is a symbol of the shared heritage of humanity. It is a symbol of the mutual love between the Indian and Arab people. It reflects the philosophical connection between India and the UAE," Modi said to a crowd waving UAE and Indian flags.

UAE Minister of Tolerance His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, addressing the inauguration ceremony, praised Modi for strengthening relations and said the temple reflected the UAE's openness to different religions and ethnicities.

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