UAE awards Indian PM Narendra Modi highest civilian award

Dubai: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the United Arab Emirates’ highest civilian honor during a visit Saturday to the oil-rich Gulf nation, reinforcing ties between the countries even as he pursues stripping statehood from the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

The induction of Modi into the Order of Zayed shows the importance the UAE places on India, the world’s third-largest consumer of crude oil. India is home to a rapidly growing consumer market and labor pool that the federation of sheikhdoms relies on for its own economy.

Activists, however, decried the UAE bestowing the award on Modi as he pursues a clampdown on the Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India. Modi is also to travel to Bahrain to become the first Indian premier to visit the island nation. “With several Gulf states in an evertightening embrace with Modi, human rights have been discarded in favor of economic opportunities,” wrote Samah Hadid, a Beirut-based human rights advocate.

Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, personally put the golden medal around Modi’s neck during an event that was closed to press in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital. With a portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s first president for whom the order is named, behind them, the two men shook and held hands for a moment and spoke quietly. (AP)

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