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When India PM Modi beckoned all and sundry to the opulent Dubai Opera House

Modi praised the UAE leadership for the kind gesture and urged the Indian community to live up to the trust shown toward the community by the UAE. (Ehtesham Shahid/ Al Arabiya)

Dubai’s usual morning traffic snarl appeared to have started early on Sunday morning to accommodate the extra rush expected because of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's community reception in the UAE.‎ The atmosphere was made festive by the inauguration of a temple in Abu Dhabi which was done via livestream from Dubai.

As Indians - and some non-Indians too - from all walks of life converged on the opulent Dubai Opera House, they expected another rock-star reception that has become synonymous with Modi’s gigs abroad.

It went on expected lines with a delayed start, some lilting live music, including a popular Nancy Ajram number. Audio-visual presentations on Yoga and Bollywood reverberated the air.

Dreary-eyed volunteers representing BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the organization building the 10-acre stone temple in Abu Dhabi, swamped the place. Yet they tried to sport smiles while greeting invitees.

“What time did you come in?”, I asked one of them. “5am," was the terse reply.‎ They had obviously finished late last night with last minute dos and don'ts related to the organization of the event.

As women complemented each other on the beautiful saris and other bright colorful dresses they wore, ‎the build-up was palpable.

Loudest cheers seemed to have been reserved for a video showing strong India-UAE ties with, especially when India's Mahatma Gandhi and UAE's founding father Sheikh Zayed appeared on the large screen.

A lady lawyer sitting next to me appeared more over-awed by the beautiful arena than what was to unfold.

"We have been living in the UAE since 1979 and this is a dream come true because this has been a really long-standing demand," said civil engineer MP Solanki whose daughter has designed the proposed temple. "There was a time when we couldn't bring statues of deities and even photos in magazines were censored," he said, adding that to see this day is quite remarkable.

In his address, Modi praised the UAE leadership for the kind gesture and urged the Indian community to live up to the trust shown toward the community by the UAE.

As crowds dispersed, a sense of accomplishment was palpable. The UAE's generous gesture allowing the temple was the recurrent theme ‎of the morning.
 

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Last Update: Sunday, 11 February 2018 KSA 21:31 - GMT 18:31
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