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  • 24 Feb, 2024

India takes dozens of diplomats on tour of temple in UAE

An $84 million Hindu temple being built in Abu Dhabi will be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi next month

Indian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Sunjay Sudhir gave a tour of the new Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi to over 60 diplomats from 42 countries on Tuesday, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the Hindu sect that is constructing the temple, has announced. The structure, upon completion, will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East.

The temple complex will include prayer halls, exhibitions, learning areas, sports areas for children, thematic gardens, food courts, books, and a gift shop, according to Indian media reports. The temple is being built on 13 acres of land for around $84 million. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the complex on February 14.

The foreign diplomats were “awed by [the temple’s] unique architecture, intricate motifs, and its message of unity, peace, and harmony,” the Indian mission in the country noted in a post on X (formerly Twitter). According to the official release, diplomats from Canada, the European Union, Israel, New Zealand, the UAE, the US, and several other nations took part in the tour.

Swami Brahmaviharidas, the head of the project, gave an overview of the temple’s “historical significance, construction process, and global impact” while underscoring its role as a powerful agent of interfaith and intercultural harmony, the Indian news agency ANI has reported.

Representatives of the temple invited the Indian Prime Minister to the inauguration of the structure last month. The statement released by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha then noted the Abu Dhabi temple’s “significance for global harmony” and Modi’s vision for “India’s spiritual leadership on the global stage.”

The construction of the temple in the UAE comes at a time when India is fostering close ties with the Middle Eastern nation, especially in trade. During Modi’s visit to the UAE last year, the two countries established a framework for promoting the use of their currencies in cross-border transactions. Bilateral trade between the two countries was worth $84.5 billion in the year from April 2022 to March 2023.

Earlier this month, Modi inaugurated one of his country’s most expensive temple projects, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The grand ceremony, conducted months ahead of India’s national polls, came as the fulfillment of the main 2019 campaign promise made by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Ayodhya is believed to be the birthplace of the God Ram and the $200 million temple is built on the site of a 16th century mosque which was razed by Hindu nationalists in 1992, sparking deadly sectarian riots.