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India-UAE Cultural Relations

            India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy strong bonds of friendship based on age-old cultural, religious and economic ties between the two nations. The Cultural Agreement of 1975 provides the basic framework for cooperation in the field of culture between the two countries.  The importance of intensifying cultural interaction was reinforced during the visit of Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi to the United Arab Emirates in August 2015. During the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces to India in February 2016, the Executive Programme for Cultural Cooperation (EPCC) 2016-18 was signed.  The EPCC  provides for a range of cultural exchange activities and is effective for a period of three years, is automatically extendable for a further period of three years unless terminated by either party. UAE have presence of 3.3 million Indians and Emiratis are quite familiar and receptive to the Indian culture.  The interest of Emirati society towards Indian culture was quite visible when India participated as the Country of Honour in the Abu Dhabi Festival 2018, an annual cultural event organized by prestigious Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation of the UAE. The importance given to Indian culture by the UAE was further highlighted in April, 2019 when India participated as the Guest of Honour Country in Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2019. It is a major literary & cultural annual event of the UAE.  Indian cinema/TV channels are popular in UAE. Major theaters/cinema halls in the UAE screens commercial Hindi, Malyalam and Tamil films.  Many Hindi/Malyalam TV/radio channels are available in the UAE and have substantial viewership.  The Emiratis takes active part in our annual International Day of Yoga events and various schools of yoga & meditation are running successfully in the UAE.

            The Mission encourages various local Indian social & cultural associations to organize cultural performances and to celebrates events like International Day of Yoga, anniversaries of important national personalities & showcases performances by troupes sent by ICCR from time to time. The Embassy also facilitates such cultural events by providing the Embassy auditorium.  Almost all Indian festivals are celebrated enthusiastically by the Indians residing in the UAE. Screening of Indian feature and documentary films is also done at the Embassy auditorium from time to time.

            Information on some of the cultural events organized/attended by the Embassy in recent past, is given below:

            The Embassy of India celebrated the Republic Day in the Embassy premises on 26 January, 2019.  Ambassador Shri Navdeep Suri unfurled the Indian tricolor, followed by reading out Hon’ble President’s Address to the Nation. On this occasion, a Charkha  was permanently installed in the Embassy’s premises to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This was followed by cultural program in the Embassy auditorium in which winners and participants of Hindi Quiz Competition held earlier on Vishwa Hindi Divas on 10 January, 2019, were given certificates by the Ambassador.  In the evening function held at Jumeirah, Etihad Towers, the Embassy in collaboration with Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) of India, organized a special Fashion Show for promoting Khadi  as part of celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  Two eminent fashion designers – Sunaina Suneja from Delhi and Feryal Al Bastaki from Dubai – showcased their collections made out of hand-spun Khadi.

            The Embassy in collaboration with Soccer Foundation India, organizedsecond edition of the Ambassador’s Cup, an innovative football competition for Indian schoolgirls studying in various schools in the United Arab Emirates, on 31st January 2019. This tournament was organized with prime objective of using sports to empower girls, build a better and brighter future for them and create a momentum in the years ahead to take India to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2027.

            The Embassy in collaboration with Gandhi Sahitya Vedi, Abu Dhabi commemorated the Martyr’s Day on 1st February, 2019 at the Embassy Auditorium. Speeches on Gandhian values and their relevance in today’s time, were delivered by Ambassador Shri Navdeep Suri and other eminent speakers.  Certificates to winners and participants of the Mahatma Gandhi Quiz 2019 were also distributed during the event. 

            An interactive talk by Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, former Chairman & Secretary of ISRO, on India’s Mars Mission was organized on 20 March, 2019 at the Embassy Auditorium.  The talk was attended by diplomats and representatives from the UAE Space Agency and by students & faculty of Khalifa University and various schools.

The 29th edition of Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) 2019, organized by Department of Culture & Tourism of UAE under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was held from 24-30 April, 2019 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). India was the Guest of Honor country and the India Pavilion at the ADIBF measuring 1100 sq mts approx., was the largest that any Guest country has ever taken at the annual ADIBF. The Pavilion included book stalls, entertainment stage area, business lounge, a food corner and meeting rooms. The Indian delegation was led by National Book Trust Chairman Prof. Govind Prasad Sharma and consisted of around 100 delegates including authors, officials and publishers.  His Highness Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior inaugurated the ADIBF 2019 and also the Guest of Honor India Pavilion on 24th April, 2019.  The ADIBF 2019 witnessed participation of heavy weight Indian authors such as Amish Tripathi, Preeti Shenoy & Manoj Das.  Many Indian Schools from Abu Dhabi participated in storytelling using Indian puppets/masks, illustrative workshops and cultural performances at the Indian Pavilion. Bharatnatyam and Orissi dances by local troupes, yoga demonstrations & a Sanskrit workshop by Samskrit Bharti were arranged by the Embassy to showcase Indian culture at the India Pavilion. A dance workshop by famous Kathak maestro Padam Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj was also held.  Department of Culture & Tourism of Abu Dhabi roped in famous Indian artists Kutle Khan,  Harpreet Singh & Jasbir Jassi for cultural performances at the ADIBF 2019 that were liked by Indian as well as the Emirati community.

An musical evening was organised at the Embassy auditorium on 26 May, 2019 in which Pandit Vinod kumar Dwivedi, Indian Classical vocalist (Dhrupad-Dhamar) presented his recitals of Indian classical music.  Mr. Sanjoy Dey, an Hindustani classical vocalist based in Abu Dhabi also presented his recitals during the programme.

5th International Day of Yoga was celebrated with enthusiasm on 20 June, 2019 at Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi. Around 4000 yoga enthusiasts of various nationalities took part in yoga demonstrations and followed Common Yoga Protocol in unison. H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Tolerance of the UAE, graced the IDY 2019 celebrations as Chief Guest. Dignitaries from UAE government, senior diplomats from other Embassies and eminent personalities from the community attended the event. Ten yoga schools in Abu Dhabi performed different yoga demonstrations followed by a cultural programme. International Day of Yoga was also celebrated in Al Ain on 28th June, 2019 at Jahili Public Park which saw participation of over 3500 people from different nationalities.

The Embassy organized a musical evening at the Embassy Auditorium on 28 June, 2019.  Shri Vivek Sonar, Sr. disciple of Padma Vibhushan Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia gave melodious performance on bansuri that left the audience spellbound. Shri Ojas Adhiya, disciple of Shri Mridangraj ji, accompanied on tabla.

73rd Independence Day was celebrated with enthusiasm in the Embassy premises on 15 August, 2019. The Ambassador unfurled the National Flag and read out the President’s message to the Nation during the programme.  The Ambassador also unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi, that has been installed in the Embassy premises with collaboration of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi.  Cultural performances were given by school students and members of Indian Ladies Association, Abu Dhabi.  During the programme, Ms. Sangeetha Sridhar gave a presentation on her recent successful #CleanIndiaTrail.

            This year India is celebrating 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikh faith and the Embassy, in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi; World Punjabi Organization & India Social & Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi organized a programme on 22 & 23 August, 2019 at India Social & Cultural Centre Abu Dhabi.  During the event a seminar & painting exhibition on life & teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji was inaugurated by the Chief Guest H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Tolerance of the UAE.  Shabad Kirtan, community lunch(langar) & a blood donation camp were also organized to spread Guru Nanak Dev ji’s message of peace and universal brotherhood.  The blood donation camp was organized with support of Abu Dhabi Blood Bank and 65 volunteers donated blood on 23 August to complete a month long blood donation drive held at various locations in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to bring the total number of blood donations to 550 to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji.

            The Embassy of India, in collaboration with the Indian community, organized various programmes from 12 – 18 November, 2019 for commemorating the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji. On 13 November, 2019 Ambassador Pavan Kapoor joined celebrations of 550th Prakash Purab at Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara Dubai & took tour of a painting exhibition on life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji.  The painting exhibition was inaugurated by Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qassimi. On 18 November, 2019, an event was organized at the Auditorium of the Embassy for celebrating 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji. During the event, documentaries on Gurubani and life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji were screened. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor and a scholar, delivered speeches on life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji.  On this occasion, commemorative postal stamps issued by India Post to mark the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji, were jointly released by the Ambassador and representative of the Department of Community Development, Abu Dhabi.  Ambassador Pavan Kapoor presented books on Sikhism to Shri S S Kandhari, Chairman, Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara Dubai for their library. 

Hindi Diwas was celebrated in the Embassy Auditorium on 15th September, 2019. Students from various Indian Schools in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain participated in competitions during the event.  DCM Ms. Smita Pant inaugurated the programme and read the message of Home Minister Shri Amit Shah for the nation.

            The Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi celebrated 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and 115th birth anniversary of 2nd Prime Minister of India Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri on 2nd October 2019. Charge d’Affaires Ms. Smita Pant, along with members of the community, offered floral tributes to the bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the Embassy premises.   Another event was organized at India Social & Cultural Centre(ISC), Abu Dhabi in the eventing in collaboration with India Social & Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi and Gandhi Sahithya Vedi, Abu Dhabi. Representatives of the Ministry of Community Development of the UAE also attended the event. Books on Mahatma Gandhi were gifted to 150 students to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji.

            The Embassy, in collaboration with the Indian community and various Indian School in Abu Dhabi, celebrated 70th Constitution Day on 26 November, 2019 at the Embassy Auditorium.  Documentary “Making of the Indian Constitution” and animation film “India:Sprit of Freedom” were played during the event. Deputy Chief of Mission read the Preamble &  highlighted salient features of the Indian Constitution. The event was well attended by members of the Indian community in addition to students & teachers from various Indian Schools.  The audience was urged to imbibe the spirit of tolerance, pluralism and social justice and spread awareness about our responsibilities towards Fundamental Duties outlined in Part IV A of the Indian Constitution. Announcement to start the year long celebration of “Constitution Day & Campaign on Citizens’ Duties” with theme based on one of the 11 Fundamental Duties each month was also made during the event. The event also highlighted our commitment to pluralistic values and tolerance as the same day, Ambassador Pavan Kapoor received the UAE Pioneer award along with H.E. Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi from H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE & Ruler of Dubai. The award acknowledged contribution of Gandhi-Zayed Digital Museum in promoting tolerance in the UAE.  The museum got mounted earlier in March, 2019 in Abu Dhabi and its soft launch was done in December, 2018 jointly by former EAM late Smt. Sushma Swaraj & H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the UAE.