Abu Dhabi:Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received the United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) highest civilian honour, a move that has sparked outrage among rights activists over his government’s clampdown on the Muslim-majority Kashmir region of India.
Modi was awarded the Order of Zayed medal by the UAE’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, known by his initials MBZ, during a visit to the capital Abu Dhabi on Saturday, reinforcing ties between the two countries.
MBZ personally put the gold medal around Modi’s neck, with a portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s first president after whom the order is named, displayed behind them.
The two men shook and held hands for a moment and spoke quietly. “You deserve it,” MBZ told the BJP leader at one point while posing for photos.
Modi had been announced as a recipient of the prize in April, days before winning re-election, in a tweet from MBZ.
“We have historical and comprehensive strategic ties with India, reinforced by the pivotal role of my dear friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave these relations a big boost,” said a tweet from his account.
India, the world’s third-largest consumer of crude oil, is home to a rapidly growing consumer market and labour pool that the oil-rich Gulf state relies on for its economy.