#SelfieWithHabibis: Modi takes over the front pages of UAE newspapers

Indians are used to seeing their Prime Minister’s face splashed across the front pages of newspapers. But Narendra Modi’s foreign visits don’t always make news the way they used to in his first year in charge, partly because he doesn’t always take pictures as awesome as those from his China trip, but also because there is an element of Modi fatigue. This, however, doesn’t apply to the rest of the world – as the front pages of newspapers in the United Arab Emirates demonstrated this morning.

Currently on a standalone two-day bilateral visit to the United Arab Emirates – the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years – Modi arrived in Abu Dhabi on Sunday expecting to boost bilateral ties with the Arab world and hoping to see the UAE loosen its purse strings in favour of investments in India.

Also on Modi’s agenda was wooing the Indian diaspora that constitutes about 30% of the population of UAE and send home more than US $13 billion annually. Apart from the Indians, his eyes were also set on the $800 billion sovereign fund that Abu Dhabi holds solely for investment projects.Embedded image permalink


While trying to achieve these ends, Modi ended up convincing the UAE to sanction land for building a temple in Abu Dhabi, the first in the city. Modi thanked the UAE leadership for the step and called it a “landmark decision”.

He also visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque in Abu Dhabi where he clicked selfies with UAE leaders and then proceeded to visit a labour camp in the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi where he interacted with over 200 workers and enquired about their wages and working conditions.

On Monday, he is expected to address the Indian diaspora in a huge gathering at a cricket stadium in Dubai where 40,000 people can be seated but 15,000 more will be accommodated outside where the speech will be telecasted on screens.

The move was hailed as a strategic win for Modi and a step forward for the Islamic nation. Subsequently, minute details and goings-on of Modi’s visit promptly made headlines in the UAE press and even the external affairs ministry found time to boast about the “wall to wall” coverage.

For the first time, though, Indian newspapers seemed lukewarm over Modi’s visit abroad. Headlines on Monday in the country’s press were hardly related to UAE and Modi even as many papers completely skipped the happenings at UAE and focussed on things back home instead, with only the Indian Express giving space to the visit.

This didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter and there was some anger against the news media for not giving Modi’s visit the prominence people think it deserves.

However, social media found enough time away from the serious to focus on the sardonic. As soon as the trip began, photoshopped images, memes, carefully crafted humour and barbs on the PM started doing the rounds on the microblogging site Twitter which always manages to find much to say about everything. —Scroll.in

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