Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Narendra Modi UAE state visit: the latest from Abu Dhabi

Indian Prime Minister presented with Order of Zayed by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed

Narendra Modi has said he is "humbled" after receiving the UAE's highest civilian honour.

The Indian Prime Minister was presented with the Order of Zayed at the Presidential Palace on Saturday by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

In a tweet, Mr Modi said he did not see the award as a personal honour, but instead as a recognition of India's "cultural ethos" and people.

Earlier, he arrived at the Emirates Palace during the short state visit and became the first person to use Indian payment platform RuPay in the UAE.

Modi debuts RuPay - to buy sweets

Mr Modi officially launched the UAE roll-out of the RuPay card – an Indian card payment scheme similar to Visa and Mastercard – at Emirates Palace.

He became the first person to use RuPay in the Emirates, when he used a card to purchase a box of sweets at a stall in the exclusive hotel.

The new card will work at 100,000 terminals in the UAE, Navdeep Suri, Indian ambassador to the UAE,revealed in a speech this morning.

“We have assurance from Network International that RuPay Card will become accessible and available throughout the country from 100,000 terminals with immediate effect,” Mr Suri said.

“We also have representatives of First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD and Bank of Baroda.

“All three of these banks have said they will start issuing RuPay cards in the UAE for people living here.”

The credit and debit cards, whose name blends the words ‘rupee’ and ‘payment’, were launched in India four years ago. Since then, 500 million people in the country have subscribed to it, and more than half of India’s one billion debit and credit cards now go through the RuPay system.

RuPay is little known outside India, but its surge within the country has challenged the dominance of US giants such as Visa and MasterCard and it is now expanding overseas, with Singapore and Bhutan among the other places to adopt it.

Mr Modi bought a kilo of motichoor ladoo vegetarian sweets from Abu Dhabi company Chhappan Bhog.

“Mr Modi told me he they were his favourite,” said Gaurav Verma, who is the CEO of parent company The Royal Orchard Group of Restaurants.

“He said he was going to take with him to Bahrain, his next destination, and share them with people there.”

Tributes to former minister Arun Jaitley

Mr Modi also took time to pay tribute to Arun Jaitley, a former Indian finance minister, who passed away on Saturday. Mr Jaitley, who was 66, held the finance portfolio in Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government from 2014 through this year but chose not to run for reelection in May's polls because of poor health.

On Twitter, Mr Modi described Mr Jaitley as a “political giant” and “towering intellectual”.

Meetings with rulers and business leaders

Mr Modi arrived into Abu Dhabi on Friday evening. After the meeting with members of the Indian business community, Mr Modi was due to hold talks with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

It was announced in April that the Order of Zayed have been conferred on Mr Modi for his work in developing ties between the two countries, ahead of today's formal presentation.

Mr Modi has also indicated that UAE will play an important role alongside India to achieve his ambitious dream of achieving a US$5 trillion economy.

"We consider the UAE as a valuable partner in realising the objective to reach US$5 trillion economy through a mutually beneficial partnership," Mr Modi told Wam in an interview published on his arrival in the country.

Ahead of the visit, Mr Modi paid tribute to Sheikh Mohamed, citing their relationship as a driving force between UAE-India relations.

"The Crown Prince and I regard each other as brothers," he said on Friday.

When asked about receiving the Order of Zayed, the Indian prime minister said it was a testimony to the two nations growing partnership.

"It is also an honour for the entire Indian nation of 1.3 billion people," he told the Khaleej Times.

Mr Modi departed the UAE for Bahrain on Saturday afternoon.

Updated: August 24, 2019 09:33 PM

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