India-UAE Cultural Relations
India and the UAE share historical ties and have maintained regular cultural exchanges both at official and people-to-people levels. The two nations signed a Cultural Agreement in 1975 which aims to strengthen bilateral cultural activities. India and the UAE enjoy strong traditional ties which have grown stronger over the years. Resilient Indian diaspora of 3.3 million is an integral part of the growth and development of the UAE’s economy and society. Essence of spices that marks the Indian cuisine, can be found in many common foods of the UAE. The UAE is one of the biggest overseas markets for Bollywood and its appeal extends to television. Today there are several channels in the UAE that show Bollywood and Indian content in Arabic. Local radio stations and television channels play songs and dances from different regions of the India.
Emiratis are familiar and receptive to Indian culture. Recognition of Indian culture by Emiratis was visible when India was declared as the ‘Guest of Honour Country’ for the prestigious 2018 edition of Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF). Selection of India as the Country of Honour in alignment with the official theme of the festival called “The Year of Zayed”, highlighted the cultural bond between the two countries. Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) of 2019 was yet another vibrant cultural event where India was chosen as Guest of Honour. ADIBF 2019 cultural programme concluded with spotlight on Indian literature and culture.
On 24 August 2019 Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, released Postal Stamps on Mahatma Gandhi to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary. These postal stamps from Emirates Post of the UAE were issued at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi to honour the life and philosophy of the great leader.
The Zayed-Gandhi Digital Museum in Abu Dhabi had a soft launch on 04 December 2019 by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE and Smt Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India. The museum houses rare photos, videos and objects representing the life, works and philosophies of both renowned leaders. The launch aligned with 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and 100th birth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed.
On 26 August 2021 a historic Agreement was signed between the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) New Delhi to establish a Visiting Professorship in Social Science at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). The agreement aims to promote broader engagement in academics between the two countries.
The Expo2020 Dubai has been a catalyst for a robust collaboration between India and the UAE. Besides showcasing technological innovations and capabilities of robust India, the Expo has played a pivotal role in exhibiting Indian culture to the Arabic society. India Pavilion emerged as one of the most vibrant cultural hub showcasing numerous cultural performances, art, movies, cuisines and culinary and other items of diverse India.
Following the signing of the historic Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 18 February 2022, both sides agreed to establish an India-UAE Cultural Council to promote bilateral cultural co-operation. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a Joint Vision Statement which, inter-alia, provided a roadmap to explore and promote cross-cultural exchanges, exhibitions and dialogues. The two leaders also released a Joint Commemorative Stamp on the occasion of 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the 50th year of the UAE’s foundation.
On 21 June 2022 Mission in association with Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) celebrated the eighth edition of International Yoga Day (IDY) at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Despite it being a working day, the stadium was packed to its capacity with more than 5,500 participants. People across various nationalities from the Indian community, diplomatic corps, local Emiratis and other foreign nationals joined together to mark the largest ever IDY session in the capital of the UAE. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence of the UAE, was the Chief Guest of the event. As a part the ‘Guardian Ring’, another yoga session was also held same day in the morning at the dome of the iconic Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi. ‘Guardian Ring’, was telecast live on DD channel which covered IDY events held across different parts of the world.
On 01 September 2022 during the 14th India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) both sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Cultural Council to promote cultural co-operation between the two countries. The MoU was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). Initiative on establishment of an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in the UAE also took a step forward with the setting up of a Joint Working Group between institutions on both sides.
The construction of the first traditional Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi is underway and expected to be completed by 2024. The foundation stone of the temple was laid on 20 April 2019 and the ceremony was attended by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of Climate Change & Environment of the UAE, Ambassador of India, representatives of the UAE Government, members of Indian diaspora and local people. The shrine will embody ancient stories from Hindu scriptures in its architecture. Dubbed as a spiritual oasis for global harmony, it is seen as a symbol of peace and tolerance.
In association with the local community of the UAE, Mission is actively participating in the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (AKAM). AKAM is an initiative of the Government of India to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements. To cherish the spirit of AKAM, a number of events have been organized, some of which for the year 2022 are: AKAM Online Quiz Competition (01- 31 January 2022), National Youth Day (12 January 2022), Varistha Yoddhas Sammelan(26 March 2022), International Yoga Day (21 June 2022), Hindi Kavi Sammelan (09 July 2022), Ayurveda Workshop( 30 July & 06 August 2022), Festival of Indian Art & Culture (13-15 August 2022), Hindi Diwas (14 September 2022) and Har Ghar Har Din Ayurveda (04 November 2022). The official journey of AKAM which commenced on 12th March 2021 with a 75-week countdown to our 75th anniversary of independence, will culminate post a year on 15th August 2023.
Last updated in November 2022