NEW DELHI: As works are underway on the largest Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, and another one was just inaugurated in Dubai, India’s ambassador and expats living in the UAE say they are a “shining example of tolerance” that makes them feel at home.
India-UAE ties reached new highs in May, with the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
About 3.5 million Indians are living and working in the UAE. The first Hindu temple built for this community was opened in Dubai in the 1950s. Recently expanded to 15 acres of land donated by local authorities, in a style blending Indian and Islamic architecture, it was reinaugurated earlier this month by UAE Tolerance Minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak.
“The presence of Sheikh Nahyan as chief guest and the fact that the Dubai government has provided the land for the Hindu temple shows how proactive the government of the UAE is in making sure that the Indian community here is comfortable,” India’s Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir told Arab News.
“The temple is very symbolic of the fact that the Indian community here feels very much at home.”
Besides serving religious purposes, it also has a knowledge center dedicated to Hindu heritage and is open to people of all faiths.
For Raju Shroff, whose family was involved in managing the first temple and who now serves as a committee member of the new one, its opening will help strengthen cultural ties between India and the Gulf state.
“India and the UAE have always had close ties, whether business or political. Now, they will also be cultural,” he said.
“Ties between the two nations have become even deeper as they are opening up different avenues, not only commercial ones. Now there will be a greater sharing of culture and ideas.”
More such exchanges are likely to come when another temple, the largest in the UAE and currently under construction, will be inaugurated in Abu Dhabi.
Developed on 27 acres of land, its groundbreaking ceremony was held in the presence of three UAE ministers in 2019, proclaimed by the government as the Year of Tolerance.
“The level of support and respect that the local government has given us has moved us and encouraged us to take this message to community members in India,” Pranav Harikrishan Desai, member of the temple’s committee, told Arab News.
“The UAE is a shining example of tolerance and coexistence.”