Postcards from India - Emiratis are always welcome here

Postcards from India - Emiratis are always welcome here
Kappkadavu beach in Kerala's Kozhikode district

Kerala's residents have always held the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in high regard for his generosity and statesmanship.



By Sunita Menon (Web Editor)

Published: Mon 8 Feb 2016, 11:42 AM

Last updated: Wed 24 Feb 2016, 11:11 AM

Heralding the three-day official India visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, a media delegation from the UAE arrived in the south Indian state of Kerala on Sunday.
Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who is on his maiden visit to India, will leave for Delhi on Wednesday and will meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Kerala holds an important chapter in the history of UAE-India ties, being the most important trade route during the pre-Independence days of India.
Kerala was a favourite destination of the Arabs, Romans and Chinese for commercial purposes, especially for trade in spices, wood and ivory.
Even today, their hearts are open to the Emiratis, as "Arabs are the only ones who did not come to invade us."

Moreover, Kerala's residents have always held the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in high regard for his generosity and statesmanship.
The media delegation's first place of visit was the famous Kappkadavu or Kappad beach in Kozhikode district, which stands as the memorial of the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the first European to land on Indian shores. One could easily pass without noticing it, except for the words inscribed "Vasco da Gama landed here Kappkadavu in the year 1498".
Watching me photograph the cone-shaped concrete block, P. Kunjukutty, a resident, said: "I used to work in Abu Dhabi as a driver with a UAE national for over nine years. I had to leave my job a couple of years and come back to India after my wife passed away."
While I tried to find out more about the dilapidated state of the memorial, he seemed excited to talk about the UAE and how he enrolled his sons in one of the Islamic colleges in town to study the Arabic language. "I am so happy to hear that you have come all the way from UAE. Mashallah, the emirates have grown in leaps. Every day, without fail, I watch Malayalam news channels where they run an exclusive news bulletin on the Gulf, especially Dubai."
He narrated how desperately the residents of the area have wanted to distance themselves from anything that reminded them of colonisation.

Pointing towards the sea, he said: "Look at those waves, how they rush on to the shore, this is exactly how, centuries back the travellers landed here. There were the Dutch, the British, the French and of course the Arab travellers. The Arabs were more interested in establishing trade and cultural links. They were not interested in playing masters."
Taking one last look at the memorial, I joined the rest of the media team, as they were waiting for me to proceed to the next destination.
We went to Jamia Markazu Ssaquafathi Ssunniyya, an Islamic university located in Karanthur, where Vice-Chancellor Dr Hussain Saqafi gave us a grand reception.

He said: "We receive a lot of charitable support from well-known UAE nationals and the Red Crescent. This institute also serves as a link between the Gulf countries and India; especially the UAE, where we have our students employed as Arabic teachers and translators. We hold the UAE in high regard because our relations started with trade and then gradually moved on to establish strong cultural links."
The institution, which has regional centres with divisional offices across India and in the Gulf countries, provide a home and support to orphans and students who come from poor economic backgrounds.
It has a separate wing known as the "Emirates House" which hosts more than 5,000 students mainly from Jammu & Kashmir.
At the 'Emirates House' I came across eight-year-old Shahul Abdul Hamid who was excited to get himself photographed.
After about an hour, it was time for us to leave, but not before posing for a selfie with the young ones.

Our next destination was Darul Huda Islamic University in Malappuram district. There we met Dr Bahauddeen Muhammed Nadwi, Vice-Chancellor who addressed us in Arabic as the university holds a reputation for its Arabic and Islamic studies.
Hoping to find students that I could speak with, I made my way to the university library wing. I came across a few of them, flipping Arabic language magazines. One of them had UAE businessman and philanthropist, Juma Al Majid featured on its cover page.
Mohammad Salman, a student, was quick to point out, "I know him. He is from Dubai. He has a big library with loads of books."

On our way back to the hotel, I came across some fishermen at the Kappad beach who were busy weaving their nets. Next to them, piled up in basket, stood their catch of the day. The shore basked in a crimson hue.
At one corner there were children playing cricket. I heard a familiar voice. It was Kunjukutty, saying, "So we met again. Hope you had a nice trip."
sunita@khaleejtimes.com
Sunita Menon is part of the media delegation accompanying His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on his visit to India.


More news from