Let's defeat extremism together, envoy tells Indian expatriates

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - MARKING TIES: Pavan Kapoor and Saleh Ali Al Maazmi with other dignitaries at the opening of the 10th UAE-India Fest.

The ambassador said that India continues to expand its level of cooperation with the UAE across various sectors.

Pavan Kapoor, India's new Ambassador to the UAE, in his maiden public address since taking charge, urged the expat community to join hands with the UAE in fight against extremism.

"We share values of pluralism, diversity and tolerance with the UAE - values that are even more important when strife and radicalism continue to raise their ugly heads. As nationals of India, a country known for espousing (Mahatma) Gandhi's tenets of non-violence, truth and peace, we must do our best to collectively defeat radicalisation and extremism. The Indian national ethos has always been progressive and inclusive, and we must ensure that the spirit continues to guide us," Kapoor said after inaugurating the 10th UAE-India Fest at India Social and Cultural Centre (ISC) in Abu Dhabi.

The ambassador noted that Indian community members have made 'positive contributions' to the UAE economy and formed 'critical component' of the strategic partnership. He said the community has built a cultural bridge between the two countries. "Your reputation of being disciplined, hardworking and law-abiding community makes us very proud and has generated considerable goodwill for India. You play an important role in the tolerant fabric of the UAE."

Remarkable bilateral ties

The ambassador said that India continues to expand its level of cooperation with the UAE across various sectors. "The intensity of our engagement is high and range of our relations is diverse. In just over a month, we had three ministerial delegations from India, which is reflective of our comprehensive strategic partnership. The fact that we have exchanged bilateral visits at the highest level for the last five years in a row is quite remarkable."

Kapoor appreciated the Indian associations' constant support to the embassy in dealing with various community issues. "The ISC has played the role of an umbrella organisation for several other Indian associations in the UAE. I think being a recipient of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman speaks volumes about the ISC's good work and recognition not just here in the UAE but also by the Indian government."

Kapoor urged community members in distress to avail ofthe embassy's 'open door policy'.

"We will try our best to help you. We are striving to improve the efficiency of our services. Your welfare is our top priority."

Vibrant start to fest

Saleh Ali Al Maazmi, head of CSR and volunteer community engagement and sports, Department of Community Development, got candid with the audience and spoke a few lines in Hindi.

The events on the day were headlined by Indian playback singer K.S. Harisankar and his band Pragathi. There were many dance performances. People thronged the exhibition stalls and food counters. The fest concludes today.

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Ashwani Kumar

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