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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 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.

            As India celebrated 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikh faith, 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 evening 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 after 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.

            Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi celebrated Vishwa Hindi Divas on 14January, 2020 (10 January, Friday being a closed holiday in the UAE) at the Embassy Auditorium. Hindi speech and Hindi Geet/Poem recitation competition were organized for students of various Indian schools in Abu Dhabi. A Cultural programme with support of classical dancers from the local Indian community was also presented during the event. Certificates were issued to all the participants and Hindi books were presented to all the winners.
            The Embassy celebrated 71st Republic Day of India at the Embassy premises in the morning of 26 January, 2020.  Ambassador Shri Pavan Kapoor unfurled the Indian tricolor, read out Hon’ble President’s Address to the Nation and delivered his own remarks on this occasion. Over 350 members of the Indian community were present during the event. The flag hoisting ceremony was followed by a cultural program in the Embassy auditorium that included captivating dance performances by well known classical dancers form the Indian community in Abu Dhabi and a patriotic song by students of GEMS United Indian School, Abu Dhabi. In the evening, Ambassador Pavan Kapoor hosted  a diplomatic reception at Hotel Beach Rotana, Abu Dhabi. The reception was attended by over 200 diplomats, dignitaries form the UAE side and eminent members of the Indian community. H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance & Coexistence of the UAE was the Chief Guest for the function. H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and H.E. Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State attended the event as Guest of Honor. Cultural performances of Indian classical dance and Indian classical instrumental music were also presented by students and artists from the Indian community during the program. As a mark of special friendship between India and UAE, iconic Burj Khalifa in Dubai and ADNOC Tower in Abu Dhabi were lit up with Indian Tri Color to commemorate 71st Republic Day of India
            Embassy of India in in association with Gandhi Sahithya Vedi, Abu Dhabi commemorated the Martyrs’ Day on 30 January, 2020 at the Embassy Auditorium. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor delivered his remarks on this occasion and distributed certificates to winners and participants of Mahatma Gandhi Quiz 2020. Speeches on Gandhian values & thought were also delivered by eminent guests during the event. Some of favourite bhajans of Mahatma Gandhi were sung as a musical tribute to Bapu by members of the community.
            The officers and staff members of the Embassy, led by Ambassador Pavan Kapoor marked the World Environment Day on 5 June 2020 at a small event organized at the Embassy premises. Around 50 fruits and flower trees were planted in the Embassy premises on this occasion to highlight the importance of trees for improving the air quality and the environment.
            The Embassy celebrated 6th International Day of Yoga on 21 June, 2020 in a restricted manner at the Embassy premises due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing norms. Around 25 Embassy officials and family members led by Ambassador Pavan Kapoor followed the Common Yoga Protocol under the guidance of a local Yoga instructor. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor issued a special video message on this occasion. This message along with a special video message of H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Tolerance of the UAE, and another special video message of H.E. Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development of the UAE were uploaded on social media platforms of the Embassy. The video messages from Ambassador and two prominent Cabinet Ministers of the UAE generated a lot of awareness about Yoga and its benefits for health, especially during the stressful times of Covid-19 pandemic. During the run up to the 6th IDY, The Mission encouraged local Yoga experts and enthusiasts to upload their Yoga videos focusing on topics such as respiratory health, Yoga for children, Yoga for stress management etc. These videos were shared on the social media platforms of the Embassy to create a buzz in the local community about Yoga and its multiple benefits.
            74th Independence Day was celebrated with enthusiasm in the Embassy premises on 15 August, 2020. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor unfurled the National Flag, read out the President’s message and delivered his own remarks in the presence of all the officers and staff members of the Embassy. This was followed by a colourful cultural program in the Embassy Auditorium by students of various Indian Schools and classical dancers from the community.  The event was live streamed on social media platforms of the Embassy to ensure virtual participation of the community amid restrictions on social gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During the run up to the Independence Day, the Embassy organized an online video blogging competition thereby encouraging virtual participation of the community in celebrating 74th Independence Day by sharing their paintings/poems/songs on patriotic theme. These videos were uploaded on social media platforms of the Mission.  Certificates were issued by the Embassy to all the participants and winners of the online competition.  In the evening, Jashn-E-Hindustan, an online mushaira/kavi-sammelan was also organised in collaboration with Vertex Events Dubai. Eminent poets and shayars from India and the UAE viz. Manzar Bhopali, Dr. Sagar Tripathi, Shabina Aadeeb, Mehshar Afridi, Irfan Izhar and Haider Amaan Haider presented poems and sher-o-shayari on patriotic theme during the online event. The online mushaira/kavi-sammelan was live-streamed through social media platforms of the Mission and witnessed a good participation of the community.
            Embassy of India celebrated Hindi Diwas on 14 September 2020 at the Embassy Auditorium. Students from various Indian schools Abu Dhabi and Al Ain participated virtually in the online Hindi poem recitation competition organised by the Embassy on this occasion. Officers and staff members of the Embassy also presented songs/poems/speeches/solo-acts in Hindi during the event. A Cultural performance was also presented by staff members of the Embassy during the event.
            This Embassy celebrated Gandhi Jayanti and also marked the culmination of 2 year longnGandhi@150celebrations at the Embassy Auditorium on 2nd October 2020. The event was live-streamed on social media platforms of the Mission to facilitate virtual participation of the community. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor along-with officers and staff of the Embassy paid floral tribute to the bust of Mahatma Gandhi. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor delivered his remarks on this occasion and highlighted the continued relevance of Gandhiji and his ideals in the present times and explained about various activities undertaken by the Embassy in the UAE since the start of Gandhi@150celebrations on 2nd October 2018. A well known classical singer from Abu Dhabi and his disciples presented some of the favourite bhajans of Gandhi ji during the event. An online Gandhi Katha by a renowned international speaker & Gandhian Dr. Shobhana Radhakrishna was also organized by the Embassy on 29 September, 2020. The online Gandhi Katha session was attended by Ambassador Pavan Kapoor and all officer and staff members of the Embassy and was live-streamed on social media platforms of the Mission to facilitate participation of the community and students and teachers from various Indian schools in the UAE. The community took a keen interest in the online Gandhi Katha.
            The Embassy, marked 71st Constitution Day on 26 November, 2020 at the Embassy Auditorium. A Documentary “Making of the Indian Constitution” and animation film “India : Spirit of Freedom” was screened during the event. Embassy officers and staff members, led by Ambassador Pavan Kapoor, read out the Preamble of the Constitution. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor, in his address, also highlighted salient features of the Indian Constitution and urged all 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.
16th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was celebrated in the Embassy on 9th January, 2021. Prominent members of the community and representatives of various community associations from Abu Dhabi participated in the virtual PBD session organized at the  Embassy Auditorium. During the event, Ambassador Pavan Kapoor addressed the gathering and appreciated the role played by the Indian community in cementing India UAE bilateral relations and for the support extended to vulnerable section of the society especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

            Vishwa Hindi Diwas was celebrated in the Embassy Auditorium on January 10, 2021. DCM Sandeep Kumar Bayappu inaugurated the event by reading message of PM on Vishwa Hindi Diwas. An online Hindi essay competition was held for students of various Indian schools in Abu Dhabi and Embassy staff members recited poems, songs and delivered speeches in Hindi on this occasion.
            72nd Republic Day was celebrated in the Embassy in the morning of January 26, 2021 in a restricted manner in presence of Officers, staff & family members of the Embassy. The event was live-streamed on social media platforms of the Embassy to facilitate virtual participation of the community. Ambassador Pavan Kapoor unfurled the National Flag, read out the message of the President to the nation and delivered his own remarks on this occasion. It was followed by streaming of a special pre-recorded video of cultural performances by eminent artists and classical dancers from the community. The UAE government also joined the celebrations and digital projection of our National Flag was made on iconic Burj Khalifa in Dubai and ADNOC Tower & Sky Tower in Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi in the evening.
            On January 30, 2021 a virtual programme was organized by the Embassy to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of 73rd Martyrs' Day. The virtual programme started with remarks of Ambassador Pavan Kapoor, followed by a narration on 'Mahatma Gandhi's tryst with peace' by Dr. Shobhna Radhakrishna. This was followed by a short message by President of Gandhi Sahithya Vedi in Abu Dhabi and a musical tribute to Bapu by members of Gandhi Sahithya Vedi, Abu Dhabi.