Foundation stone of first Hindu temple in UAE to be laid on April 20

File photo: PM Modi with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Apr 16, 2019, 07.39 PM (IST) Sidhant Sibal

The foundation stone-laying ceremony (Shilanyas Vidhi) of the first traditional Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi being built in Abu Dhabi, UAE will take place on April 20. 

The foreign minister of UAE, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of tolerance, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan and Indian envoy to UAE Navdeep Suri will be present on the occasion. 

Mahant Swami Maharaj, the sixth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, will also preside over the foundation stone laying ceremony of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the ground-breaking ceremony of a temple being constructed in Abu Dhabi through live feed and unveiled a replica of the temple complex in Dubai in February last year during his visit to the country.

Speaking at the ceremony back then the PM said, “The first traditional temple in Abu Dhabi will act as a catalyst for the flourishment of humanitarian values and harmony between the two countries. The temple will become a medium for India’s identity.”

The UAE government in 2015 had decided to allot a plot of land near Abu Dhabi for the construction of a temple during PM Modi's first visit to the west Asian country.

Later in 2017, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan gifted a 13.7-acre plot of land at Abu Mureikheh, mid-way between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to enable the building of the temple. Additional 13 acres was given for parking.

The Indian community is financing the project and RSP, a Singapore-based architectural practice, is the lead consultant and designer for the BAPS Hindu Mandir. The construction is expected to be completed by 2020.

The construction of the temple comes even as UAE is becoming an international hub for many industries like aviation and media. among others. The crown prince is focusing on a "vision of tolerance and religious harmony". UAE itself is marking 2019 as the year of tolerance.

The UAE-India ties in the last few years have grown manifold especially with a number of high-level visits. PM Modi first visited the country in August 2015 which was followed by the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2016.

The following year, the Crown Prince was the chief guest at India's Republic Day parade. Again in 2018, PM Modi visited the country and was the chief guest at the sixth World Government Summit in Dubai. UAE is one the very few countries where PM Modi has visited twice. PM, a few weeks ago, was honoured with the highest civilian award - The Zayed Medal- of the country. 

Earlier this year, in a first, UAE invited India as a guest of honour at the organisation of Islamic cooperation foreign ministers meet despite reservations from Pakistan.

More than 3 million Indians have made UAE their home and there are approximately 1,000 direct flights per week between various destinations of India and the UAE.

Story highlights

Mahant Swami Maharaj, the sixth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, will also preside over the foundation stone laying ceremony of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi.