Dubai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading for a three-day, three-nation visit to West Asia this week. The visit will start on the 10th of February with Palestine from where the PM will travel to the UAE and round-off the trip with a stopover in Oman.
In UAE, the Prime Minister will participate in the foundation stone-laying ceremony, via video-conferencing, of Abu Dhabi's first Hindu temple. The UAE government reportedly granted 20,000 square metres of land for the temple. The UAE government had made the announcement of the land allocation, just outside Abu Dhabi city, during Modi's first visit to UAE in 2015.
"This reflects the commitment of the UAE government in diversity and tolerance," said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs. Not wanting to comment on the deity that will be worshipped in the temple, MEA simply stated that the nature of the temple and funding will be worked out between the Indian community and UAE authorities.
In Oman, too, the Prime Minister has a religious engagement. He will be visiting the ancient Shiva temple in Muscat. The Shree Shiva Temple is believed to have been built 109 years ago by the merchant community from Gujarat that settled in Muscat centuries ago.
But all eyes will be on the PM’s half-day visit to Ramallah. While this will be the first visit ever by a Prime Minister to Palestine, what is also being highlighted by the Ministry of External Affairs is that this is a stand-alone visit.
"We have de-hypenated Palestine and Israel," said Joint Secretary (West Asia and North Africa) Bala Bhaskar.
The Prime Minister had made his first stand-alone visit to Israel last year in July, just weeks after hosting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New Delhi.
Before holding talks in Ramallah, the Prime Minister will lay a wreath at the memorial of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The two sides are expected to sign MoUs on Palestine reconstruction and health.