Indians in UAE optimistic for the future as Narendra Modi is sworn in for second term
India's ambassador to the UAE has called for Indians to unite behind Mr Modi after a divisive election campaign
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's landslide election victory is set to usher in a "golden era" for the country's growing friendship with the UAE.
Navdeep Suri, India's ambassador to the UAE, said Mr Modi's emphatic vote of confidence at the polls last week will lead to already close ties between the two nations being strengthened further.
Speaking on Thursday, as Mr Modi was preparing to be sworn in for his second term as leader, Mr Suri also called for Indians across the world to unite after a bitterly fought campaign.
“We can see this as a golden era in our bilateral ties, there is real sense of optimism,” Mr Suri told The National.
“Whether it is the comprehensive strategic partnership or the energy relationship, a lot of that is driven by the very close and personal relationship between Prime Minister Modi and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
“The fact that the Prime Minister has been re-elected by such a strong mandate is an exceptional opportunity for us to build on that relationship and take it forward. The number of congratulatory messages I received from Emirati friends is an indication and recognition of the continuity this imparts.”
Mr Modi has visited the UAE twice in three years and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has toured India twice.
Sheikh Mohamed was also a guest at India's Republic Day celebrations in 2017.
More than three million Indians live in the UAE, the largest expatriate population in the country.
Both countries share a long history and the strategic partnership has received a boost in recent years with agreements signed in energy, security, trade and space cooperation.
Re-elected with a landslide majority, Mr Modi will take the oath of office along with a council of ministers later on Thursday at the presidential Rashtrapati Bhavan.
At a meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party workers this week, Mr Modi had called for building trust across the country going forward.
He added ‘sabka vishwas’ or gaining trust of all to his mantra of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ or development for all.
Mr Suri too said the country would come together post-elections.
“It’s important to recognise the elections are behind us and the people have given their mandate so we need to come together as a community, as a nation. The Indian community overseas recognise there is one Prime Minister and we are one nation,” he said.
Indians in the UAE agreed it was time to throw their support behind Mr Modi.
Anis Ahmed, 47, a Dubai-based managing director of a trading company, said Mr Modi would need to build confidence across the country, particularly with the Muslim community, many of whom have felt marginalised by the BJP.
“The people have given him a thumping mandate, they believe he is the only alternative so now he has more promises to fulfil in building confidence of the masses,” he said.
“He needs to create more jobs and attract more industries to come in with measures not just for big corporates but also for the small and medium industries and farmers. The one thing we are confident about is that Indians in the UAE will benefit. This is our second home and a deepening closer relationship is positive for us.”
Manoj Munishwar, 43, from Abu Dhabi, a project manager for an oil and gas company, said people were looking forward to a stronger economy.
“A big country like India needed a strong leader with a vision who will be focussed on development, reforms and national security,” said Mr Munishwar.
He said reforms such as a nationwide goods and services tax that makes it harder to dodge levies and a land acquisition act that replaced a century-old law to protect poor farmers will be good for the country.
Abu Dhabi resident Sandesh Ubhe, 57, is among thousands of Indian expatriates who went back to vote in Maharashtra state, in western India.
He said welfare schemes to support the weakest sections of society would be on the agenda for the BJP's second term.
“The seeds have been planted for the poor, the needy and for women’s empowerment and this is what we will see in the next term,” said the engineer who regularly returns to India to vote in state and parliamentary polls.
“People should have education, food and shelter. There should be no need to go out of their villages if they want education or jobs.”
Mr Modi has also struck a chord among Non-Resident Indians who speak of engagement with the country. They are invested in the country’s success due to foreign policy initiatives boosting India’s relations with countries in the region and across the globe.
“As an NRI, I’m very proud. People earlier felt we go overseas just for the money, but Modi reminded us that as NRIs, we are ambassadors for India and how we conduct ourselves reflects on India’s image,” Mr Ubhe said.
“Indians are usually law abiding and follow local rules but we now feel we are contributing to another country’s progress. We feel whether you are a cleaner, construction worker, engineer or doctor, someone will take care of you.”
Updated: May 30, 2019 01:21 PM