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India’s Congress party president Rahul Gandhi began his two-day visit to the UAE on Friday. The main public event, a cultural meeting of Indian diaspora where Gandhi will be the chief guest at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Gandhi is expected to address a crowd of 25,000 and talk about “the Idea of India” in the context of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi.

“In the UAE we are celebrating the Year of Tolerance, while back home in India, there has been four-and-a-half years of intolerance,” Rahul Gandhi opens his speech in Dubai.

6.40pm

Excerpts from the speech of Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy:

“Rahulji is coming here as the INC president today. Next time when he comes, we are sure he will be coming as India’s Prime Minister.

This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi and the year of tolerance in the UAE.

Gandhi’s life principles were based on tolerance which is lost in the world now.

This stadium is now a mini India. Rahulji is coming to address that India and help us get back the values that we have lost in our country.

This is a historic event and I appreciate the organizers for the grand success of the event,” said Chandy,

Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy speaking in DubaiImage Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

6.30pm

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has received Rahul Gandhi, Indian politician and president of the opposition Indian National Congress, Dubai Media House has tweeted.

Excerpts from the speech of PK Kunhalikutty, national general secretary of Indian Union Muslim League:

“We are really proud about Rahulji. He is born to be the leader of India. India needs a secular asset. There is only one leader in India who can be that now. People are looking at Rahul as that leader to save them. The youth needs jobs and growth and a developed India. The world is looking at India again.

During the time of Manmohan Singh the whole world thought that India is going to be a superpower. That Bharat is going to come back again.

This stadium is not enough for Rahul. He is a leader not just for the INC. He is the leader for all the parties that believe in secularism. In this foreign soil I’m not saying anything to criticize anyone, but the only thing that what India needs now is the secular legacy of the Nehru family. Let’s all wait for that day when Rahul will be the PM of India”

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Crowds carrying the Indian flag walk across the stadium.Huda Tabrez/Gulf News

6.10pm

Tariq Anwar Dubai resident on the importance of Rahul Gandhi’s visit.Huda Tabrez/Gulf News

Tariq Anwar Dubai resident on the importance of Rahul Gandhi’s visit.

5.15pm

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Congress supporters sing and shout slogans hailing Rahul Gandhi as the stadium is getting jam packed. Cultural programmes are beginning with a Bharatanatyam performance.

5.00pm

Himanshu Vyas, P.K Kunhalikutty and Oommen ChandyImage Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

AICC General Secretaries Himanshu Vyas and Oommen Chandy, FOrmer Kerala CM, and P.K Kunhalikutty, National General Secretary of Indian Union Muslim League, the main leaders who have come from India to organize Rahul Gandhi’s UAE visit seated in the front row at the public event in Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

4.55pm

Thousands of UAE expatriates were seen milling into the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to hear the speech by Rahul GandhiGulf News reader Hisham Abbas

4.45pm

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Frenzied followers throng AICC General secretary and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as he just arrived at the stadium. He is also the member of Indian National Congress Working Committee.

4.35pm

Huda Tabrez/Gulf News

4.30pm

Many people said they had to walk long distances to reach the stadium as their cars would not be allowed too close to the venue.

Sharmila Dhal/Gulf NewsImage Credit:

Many people said they had to walk long distances to reach the stadium as their cars would not be allowed too close to the venue. Achu Oommen, event organizer and daughter of former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy, said they were expecting 40,000 to 50,000 people this evening, so enough room had to be created for the 1,000 buses bringing them in. ‘We have also organised shuttke buses to and from different points, she added.

4.20pm

Dubai-based Businessman Mohammad Akbar from Mumbai who had come with his family said he has been a staunch Congressman since his childhood. “Rahul Gandhi stands for change – look how much of a change he has brought in the Congress party itself in the last one year. He is our future,” said Mohammad Akbar.

Mohammad Akbar with his familyImage Credit:

4.15pm

A group of men said they specially got themsekves Rahul Gandhi’s trademark green jacket fir the event to express solidarity wuth their leader.

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

4.10pm

Congress supporters from Kerala Shamsudheen M, Bino Kozhuvallur and Muthu Pardhur who came from Ajman to support their young leader said Rahul Gandhi is the new hope for Indian expatriates to find solutions for their long-pending issues.

Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

“The Indian community has high expectations from the UAE visit of Rahul Gandhi. We are expecting to find solutions to a lot of issues we face,” said Muthu.

Bino said he considered the event a platform for Indian expats to hold their heads high in pride in front of the world. “We are expecting NRI-friendly announcements from him,” he said.

“We love him and respect him. That is why we reached here at 10am itself to catch the front row seats for the general public,” said Shamsudheen.

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Crowds shout slogans supporting Rahul Gandhi and CongressSajila Saseendran/Gulf News

3.40pm

Shujat Nabi from Uttar Pradesh, Yassir Haider and MD Asdullah from Delhi, who are colleagues in a company in Fujairah, said they left their accommodation at 10:30am to come to Dubai early to meet and support their leader.

“We are all very excited to welcome him and support him. We all want to see him as our next Prime Minister in 2019 elections,” said Shujat.

Shujat Nabi, Yassir Haider and MD Asdullah left their accommodation in Fujairah at 10.30am to come to Dubai early and support their leader.Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Asdullah said he likes Rahul as he is a hardworking leader and supports everyone.

“He is supporting the poor people, farmers and all people.”

3.20pm

Scores of student volunteers from different universities and nationalities were at hand to usher in guests and discharge other duties. Among them were Euan from Scotland who said, “i cant say a lot about Rahul Gandhi, but I am learning about him.” sikander from pakistan said he was here as it was a volunteering opportunity.

Scores of student volunteers from different universities and nationalities were at hand to usher in guests and discharge other dutiesImage Credit:

Hadeel from Yemen said, “I love Indian food and am learning more about India now”.

2.55pm

Stage is set for Rahul Gandhi’s public meeting in Dubai International Cricket StadiumSajila Saseendran/Gulf News

2.47pm

Hundreds of people are pouring into Dubai International Cricket Stadium to attend the public meeting of Rahul Gandhi. Some people were seen selling T-shirts and caps bearing the image of Gandhi.

“Dh20..Dh20,” one man was shouting in Hindi as some fans approached him to purchase the customized merchandise.

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