PM Narendra Modi is the only Indian premier to have officially visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and is set to return to the Gulf state for a second time. Little wonder then that massive renditions of the Indian Tricolour dominated the cityscapes of the UAE's two biggest cities. Iconic structures in both cities lit up in saffron, white and green on Friday night, in preparation for PM Modi's arrival.
The largest display of the Indian flag, obviously, was on the façade of the colossal Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world. At 828 metres tall, this could just easily be the largest display of the Indian flag ever.
But the Burj Khalifa was hardly the only building in Dubai decked out for Modi arrival. The city's latest attraction, the Dubai Frame, too displayed the Tricolour on, well, its frame.
The Dubai Frame is a structure that was dubbed the 'biggest picture frame on the planet'. And it is simply that - a frame that's 150 metres tall and 105 metres wide, and nothing in the middle. Look through it from one side, and it's a view of the new Dubai - gleaming and towering skyscrapers glitzing out the skyline, including the Tricolour-draped Burj Khalifa. Look at from the other side, and it's a view of the older parts of Dubai, some of which feature centuries old souks and homes.
That you could look from one Dubai to another through a frame that's dressed up in the Indian Tricolour is perhaps a fitting metaphor for the place Indians occupy in the present and the history of the city.
When pictures speak louder than words pic.twitter.com/5JP3EVvte1
— IndAmbUAE (@navdeepsuri) February 10, 2018
Not just Dubai, UAE capital Abu Dhabi too tipped its hat to the visit of the Indian PM. The prominent ADNOC Headquarters building on the city's seafront became a massive flagpole of sorts.
The building is the headquarters of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and is a slim skyscraper that offers a flat façade to the city. It's nowhere close to the Burj Khalifa in height, but at 342 metres tall, it was still a pretty huge Indian flag. And these were hardly the only structures in these cities that were Tricoloured up.
— ????? ????? ?????? (@AbuDhabi_ADM) February 10, 2018
It is not the new-age architecture of these cities that have displayed excitement over the second visit of PM Modi. Newspapers and media houses in the confederation of city states have also pulled more than a few stops, carrying huge advertisements, articles and interviews to build up the buzz surrounding the visit.
PM Modi's first visit to UAE was in August 2015. As the first serving Indian PM to make a state visit, he was received at the airport by Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in a departure from protocol. India had reciprocated by inviting the Crown Prince to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in 2017.
The rising governmental exchanges between India and the UAE are built on decades-old and extensive people-to-people exchanges, and have now expanded to not just trade but also strategic exchanges. PM Modi's visit is expected to take these developments forward.