10-minute interaction with Modi leaves a lasting impression

10-minute, interaction, Modi, Order of Zayed, Indians, Emirates Palace,
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets KT editors at Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.-Photo by Ryan Lim/Khaleej Times

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting UAE for the third time.

By Ryan Lim

Published: Sat 31 Aug 2019, 9:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 31 Aug 2019, 5:59 PM

It was a special day for me, as well as the millions of Indians living in the UAE and the billions back home. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visiting UAE for the third time. He was going to be honoured with the Order of Zayed, UAE's top civilian award. It was a proud moment. But while Indians were beaming with pride, I was a bit nervous. Well, not really. I have covered heads of state before. But these meetings are quick, and you don't get to choose where you stand. So you have to make the best of what you have.
The photoshoot was set for 10.15am on Saturday. At 9am, I was at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, all equipment checked and double checked. As expected, the security protocol was immense, but getting through was easy since we had all permissions in place.
At the lobby, my colleagues and I awaited the green signal from the officer on special duty from the Indian external affairs ministry. I checked my camera again (no, not out of nervousness).
I sensed an air of excitement and anticipation. There were a large number of other local and international media persons present. However, only Khaleej Times had the permission for a personal meeting.
By 10am, my colleagues and I went to the Presidential Suite to meet the prime minister. The protocol officer called out our names and we were taken inside. As my colleagues exchanged greetings and spoke with the prime minister, I started clicking photos. I wasn't happy with the lighting. There were a few close-up shots and a few wide shots. I was amazed by the demeanour of the prime minister as he was very jovial and made everyone feel comfortable. Just after taking a few photos, the protocol officer asked me to leave. I waited outside and after a few minutes my colleagues walked out too. They were thrilled. I was equally happy at the opportunity and honour to capture a top leader through my lens.
I have covered such dignitaries before and each time it's a new experience. This time around I got to know about a person who is humble and down to earth. I now understand how he, coming from a modest background, became the prime minister of such a large country. He instantly connects with people and leaves a lasting impression on them.

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