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First Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi
Inaugurates By PM Modi

Los Angeles, Feb 14, 2024 A.Gary Singh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple, the largest in the United Arab Emirates, boosting his credentials as a global statesman months before he heads to the polls in a nationwide election where he is seeking a rare third term in power.

The BAPS Hindu Mandir, built on a sprawling 27-acre site in the Abu Dhabi desert, is the city’s first traditional Hindu stone mandir, its pink sandstone columns topped by seven spires representing the number of Sheikhs that rule each of the Emirates.

Modi was greeted with a hug by the country’s President, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and presented with the Guard of Honor, showing how close the two nations have come in their strategic and economic relations.

The temple has a storied history as its UAE-based devotees have long advocated for its construction, said Blarel, who focuses on foreign policy in South Asia and the Middle East.

The country of 9 million is home to about 3.5 million Indian nationals alone, making it the largest population of Indian citizens in the world.

In 2015, the UAE government allocated land for the development of the temple, in a major win for the diaspora.

“This then became a joint venture as both the Indian and UAE governments entrusted the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha the responsibility to build and administer the mandir,” Blarel said.

“Nine years later, this important cultural and political project has been materialized and framed by the BJP and Modi as further evidence of the global reach of India’s religious and cultural heritage, but also of cooperation with its diaspora.”