Narendra Modi turns candid with Xpress ahead of UAE visit, answers questions on bilateral ties, personal interests
It was a surprise when Modi spoke to Gulf News ahead of his three-nation tour to Palestine, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Narendra Modi gave an interview to Xpress, a UAE-based weekly newspaper, ahead of his three-nation tour to Palestine, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The interview, which was published on 7 February, was largely centered around the prime minister's personal interests and daily routines, but it also shed light on his bilateral visit to the UAE and the agenda he seeks to pursue when he meets the leadership of UAE.
The prime minister told the Dubai-based news organisation that "energy and infrastructural investments" will remain the key focus of his visit and his interactions with the UAE leadership. He said that several of the initiatives agreed upon between the two countries previously have "come to fruition now."
Modi last visited the UAE in August 2015, in what was the first ever visit to the UAE by an Indian prime minister. Subsequently Abu Dhabi's crown prince Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed visited India in 2017 when he was the chief guest of the Republic Day Parade.
Highlighting the growing bilateral relationships between the two nations, the prime minister also commented on the existing cooperation and people-to-people contact.
"It is a matter of even greater happiness that new government-to-government and business-to-business initiatives promise to add even more strength and depth to the bilateral cooperation in various areas of economic activity," Modi told Xpress.
"The Indian community has acted as a bridge between the two countries and I hope my visit will further strengthen these ties," he added saying that the UAE is home to over three million people of Indian origin.
During the visit, Modi said he will engage with leading UAE and Arab CEOs in Dubai on the vast economic opportunities in India and what more can be done to bolster business collaboration. In a tweet put out on Thursday, Modi said that he will be holding talks with the crown prince and the ruler and prime minister of Abu Dhabi.
In UAE, I will hold talks with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. @HHShkMohd @MohamedBinZayed
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 8, 2018
The prime minister will also address the sixth edition of the World Government Summit on the UAE government's invitation as India is also designated the Guest of Honour country.
At the invitation of the leadership of the UAE, I will be addressing the 6th edition of the @WorldGovSummit in Dubai, where India is the Guest Country of Honour. https://t.co/Kq3smWsJp9 — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 8, 2018
Describing the Gulf country as a "valued strategic partner", Modi said that India has fast-tracked cooperation with the UAE in all major spheres, including economy, energy, high technology and security.
Meanwhile, apart from the bilateral issues, Modi's interview also gave some insight into his personal life. The prime minister answered questions about a number of aspects, including his morning routine to his favourite food items. When asked about his favourite food, he said that he is not much of a foodie and enjoys a simple vegetarian meal. He also denied reports that a personal butler accompanies him on foreign tours, and said that he was happy to accept whatever his "gracious hosts" offer him.
The prime minister is on the three-nation tour from 9-12 February. He said it would be his fifth visit to the Gulf and the West Asian region since 2015. "This region is a key priority in our external engagement. We enjoy vibrant multi-dimensional ties with the countries here," he said. "I look forward to strengthening India's growing and important ties with West Asia and the Gulf region through the visit," Modi said. The prime minister said he will visit the UAE from 10-11 February.
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