NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi broke protocol to greet UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who arrived in New Delhi yesterday as chief guest for India’s Jan 26 Republic Day parade.
Modi, who has been seen to have a passion of bringing himself in the limelight instead of his country with his iconic selfies and hugs, received the Emirati prince at the airport in a departure from protocol.
Modi has become well-known for his vigorous hugs and handshakes with other world leaders, displaying a tactile familiarity that often seems to take his counterparts by surprise. The resulting pictures can often be awkward, subsequently making headlines all over the world. The tone can veer from admiration to mocking and everything in between.
On Tuesday, Modi gave Al Nahyan a warm hug at the tarmac, seen as a signal of developing proximity that could be linked to Pakistan’s refusal to the UAE to join the war in Yemen.
India’s parade usually showcases nuclear missiles aimed at Pakistan and China as part of India’s surging military hardware, with growing contribution from Israel.
Reports said Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, is expected to boost bilateral ties in the key areas of trade and security.
“It is also significant given that UAE is a close ally of Pakistan, whom India is trying to diplomatically isolate over the issue of cross-border terrorism,” the Indian Express reported.
During Modi’s visit to UAE in August in 2015, the two countries had decided to strengthen their cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism.
There are also more than 2.6 million Indians in the UAE and their annual remittance is estimated to be around $14 billion. India had previously hosted the King of Saudi Arabia as chief guest though he refused to pay homage at Mahatma Gandhi’s shrine because it violated his belief in Islam.
The first chief guest when the military parade moved to the current Rajpath promenade in 1955 was Pakistan’s Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad. Pakistan’s Agriculture Minister Rana Abdul Hamid was the chief guest in 1965, just before the countries went to war. China’s Marshall Ye Jianying was the chief guest in 1958. President Barrack Obama became the first American leader to attend the ceremony.
A timeline of Modi’s awkward physical contact
Narendra Modi with French President François Hollande.–File photo
Narendra Modi with former US president Barack Obama.–File photo
Narendra Modi hugs Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.–File photo
Modi leaves an imprint on British Prince William’s hand during his visit to India.–File photo