UAE confers prestigious Zayed Medal on Narendra Modi

UAE confers prestigious Zayed Medal on Narendra Modi

“This friendship is contributing to the peace and prosperity of our people and planet,” Modi wrote to crown prince Mohammad bin Zayed

UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the country’s highest civilian award, ‘the Order of Zayed’, its crown prince Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced on April 4, a decision that has given rise to speculation PM Modi could travel to the gulf emirate soon.

“We have historical and comprehensive strategic ties with India, reinforced by the pivotal role of my dear friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave these relations a big boost. In appreciation of his efforts, the UAE President grants him the Zayed Medal,” the UAE crown prince, who is also deputy supreme commander of the UAE’s armed forces wrote in a tweet.

In response, Prime Minister Modi said he would accept the honour with “utmost humility”. “Under your visionary leadership, our strategic ties have reached new heights. This friendship is contributing to the peace and prosperity of our people and planet,” he wrote to crown prince Mohammad bin Zayed. The two leaders have met a record number of times in the past few years, with PM Modi visiting the UAE and Mohammad Bin Zayed visiting India twice each since 2015. Previous recipients of the Order of Zayed include Russian President Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Queen Elizabeth II, and former Pakistan President Musharraf.

Neither the MEA nor UAE officials confirmed when the award ceremony would be held for PM Modi. When asked, diplomatic sources indicated it could be held as early as the next few weeks. In a statement, the MEA said that the honour came in recognition of the “PM’s leadership to develop the strategic partnership between India and the UAE”. “The UAE is home to the largest number of our citizens outside India, and is our partner in diverse pillars of cooperation including investment, energy defence and security.”

‘Strong bilateral strategic and personal relationships’

The Hindu had reported last week that a “high level” representation was also expected from India for a foundation laying ceremony for Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple on April 20th. The temple, which will be built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Gujarat based international spiritual organisation would be the second temple in the UAE, and will be constructed on land donated by the UAE government. PM Modi had performed one foundation laying ceremony (Shilanyas) via video conference last year during a visit to the UAE in February 2018.

When asked specifically about reports that PM Modi would attend the latest, Shilanyas, UAE Ambassador Ahmed Al Banna told The Hindu on Monday that the “UAE welcomes all high level visits in keeping with our strong bilateral strategic and personal relationships, taking into account scheduling and protocol considerations that are applicable.”

PM Modi’s possible travel for the award and the temple event during the election campaign, if confirmed, would set a precedent for a Prime Ministerial foreign visit after the Model Code of Conduct is in place, but would not violate it, officials said, given that the PM is exempted from the rules governing official travel once elections are declared.

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