45K Indians ready to say “Hello, Modi” at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today addresses the World Government Summit in Dubai and then meets tens of thousands of NRIs in Abu Dhabi for the event titled ‘Ahlan Modi’. He is also set to inaugurate the BAPS Hindu Mandir Abu Dhabi tomorrow in a major ceremony.

Narendra Modi meets NRIs in Dubai
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets NRIs in Dubai in December 2023. Photo courtesy: X/ @narendramodi

Excitement levels are high among Indians of all ages in the United Arab Emirates, says longtime Dubai resident and investment professional Amitava Majumder, who is spending the day in Abu Dhabi today.

A member of several professional and cultural groups in the UAE, Majumder tells Connected to India about the mood: “‘Ahlan’ or ‘Hello’ is the buzzword going around the UAE, with weeks of preparation to ensure a flawless execution to shower love, respect, and adulation on our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as he addresses [NRIs] in the biggest stadium in the UAE — Zayed Sports City Stadium — on February 13, 2024.”

Ahlan Modi signage in Abu Dhabi
Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi ready for Ahlan Modi on February 13, 2024. Photo courtesy: Facebook/ Ahlan Modi

Modi, who has been to the UAE several times now, was in Dubai for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December 2023. Indian expats gathered in large numbers to meet him on that occasion. Describing the interaction, an X post dated December 1 by the handle @narendramodi says: “Deeply moved by the warm welcome from the Indian community in Dubai. Their support and enthusiasm is a testament to our vibrant culture and strong bonds.”

Majumder, who has a very close relationship with his country of origin despite the decades spent abroad, says that the ‘Ahlan Modi’ event would be the third Modi-related event he has attended in the UAE, the previous two being COP28 in Dubai and another 2015 event also in Dubai.

Having travelled the world extensively as a Global Polar Ambassador — 58 countries and all continents, including Antarctica, covered — Majumder attended the climate change conference in Dubai to observe the contribution of nations to mitigate global warming.

His travels have helped him see, says the NRI with his roots in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, that the prestige accorded to Modi reflects the rising prestige of India on the international stage.

Technological prowess and global diplomacy are two areas in which India has been very successful, feels Majumder.

He calls Narendra Modi “a visionary leader”, who has once again given India a win with the release of the eight former Indian Navy personnel imprisoned in Qatar.

“As India’s growth story becomes bigger and bigger, our roles and contributions will get bigger, too, as we become vishwa guru (global mentor) with digital finance and investment services to the world, thereby [becoming] a USD 7 trillion economy and the third largest in the world,” says Majumder.

The Modi government, which had earlier set the goal of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025, has now set its sights on the USD 7 trillion target by 2030.

These developments are a matter of great pride for Majumder — as an NRI who has attended almost every Pravasi Bharatiya Divas since 2003, he has seen the rise of India over the past two decades. This year did not have the event, but Majumder was present at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2023 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in January 2023
Dubai-based NRI Amitava Majumder being welcomed to Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in January 2023. Photo courtesy: Amitava Majumder

He recalls, “It was in 2003 that 50 of us from the UAE were delegates for first Pravasi [Bharatiya] Divas held in Delhi. There were 800 delegates from all over the world, as India gave its NRIs a rousing welcome.”

It was the senior statesman Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was the country’s leader then; Narendra Modi headed the state of Gujarat.

Welcome signage for Indian expats in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, for Kumbh Mela 2019
Welcome signage for Indian expats in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, for Kumbh Mela 2019. Photo courtesy: Amitava Majumder

“One Pravasi day followed another, and I attended most of them. The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas gave us an understanding of the pulse of the leaders and their vision,” says Majumder.

During the year of India’s G20 presidency — it ended with the global summit in Delhi in September 2023 — the Dubai-based expat was closely associated with the tourism sector in India.

A Hanuman mural in India
Amitava Majumder with a Hanuman mural on a recent trip to India. Photo courtesy: Amitava Majumder

“I was asked to be a Jan Bhagirdar by [G20] Chief Sherpa Dr Amitabh Kant, and chose ‘Travel and Tourism’ as a driver of economy under the ‘One world one family one vision’ theme,” says Majumder.

He travelled far and wide across India — Amarnath to Tamil Nadu and North Bengal to Dwarka — and submitted his proposal to the Government of India “which they appreciated”.

About Indians in the UAE, who form the largest segment of expats in the country, Majumder says, “Yes, the UAE is like a magnet, and Indians continue to be successful [here].”

Proud of what the nation of his birth represents, Majumder says that “India was outstanding during Expo 2020 in Dubai”, one of the landmark events in the Middle East in recent years.

After ‘Ahlan Modi’, he is looking forward to the opening of the BAPS Hindu Mandir Abu Dhabi, adding that to his bouquet of experiences along with the recent Ayodhya Ram Mandir opening, where Majumder was present.