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HomeFact CheckBAPS Mandir In Abu Dhabi Is Not UAE’s First Hindu Temple, Govt...

BAPS Mandir In Abu Dhabi Is Not UAE’s First Hindu Temple, Govt Handles, Major Media Outlets Amplify Misleading Claim

Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Claim
Newly inaugurated BAPS Mandir in Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s first Hindu temple.

Fact
There were other Hindu temples in UAE, built well before the inauguration of the BAPS Mandir.

The inauguration of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, UAE, last week (February 14) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw several social media users, including the verified Twitter handles of the government of India’s ministry of culture and the Centre’s citizen engagement platform, MyGov, share videos and photos hailing the “landmark” event, claiming it to be the UAE’s first Hindu temple.

Major media outlets such as Times of India, Hindustan Times, Indian Express, among others, along with political leaders like Rajasthan’s minister of youth affairs and sports, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, too, shared videos and articles, stating that the BAPS Swaminarayan temple is the UAE’s first Hindu temple.

Fact Check

Newschecker first ran a keyword search for “BAPS Hindu Mandir first UAE”, which led us to multiple reports from international media outlets, such as Bloomberg and CNN, about the inauguration, where they clearly state that the temple, which was built on a 27-acre site off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, is Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple. None of the reports state that the mandir is UAE’s first Hindu temple.

“India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple, the largest in the United Arab Emirates, boosting his credentials as a global statesman months before he heads to the polls in a nationwide election where he is seeking a rare third term in power,” read a CNN report, dated February 14, 2024,  This report indicates that the temple, while it is the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, is not the first Hindu temple in UAE. 

We came across this report from UAE-based Khaleej Times, dated February 14, 2024, about the BAPS mandir, stating that it is the only Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, but also the Middle East’s first traditional Hindu stone temple.

Taking a cue from this, we ran a relevant keyword search, which led us to this BBC report, dated February 15, 2024. “According to Pew research centre, there are 660,000 Hindus in the UAE. While temples have been around in the UAE for decades, this is reportedly the first one to be built using traditional techniques. Made from pink sandstone from Rajasthan state and white Italian marble, the temple was carved in India and assembled in Dubai,” read the BBC report, dated February 15, 2024, referring to an AP report, dated February 12, 2024, calling the BAPS Mandir as the first stone-constructed Hindu temple in the Middle East.

“Smaller temples have existed for decades in the UAE, but none following the traditional building techniques of the Hindu Mandir. Its carved stones fit like a jigsaw puzzle and provide support without relying on the steel beams of modern architecture,” read the AP report.

“Hindu temples have for decades existed in the UAE, a Gulf state whose one million citizens are a minority in a country of some 10 million residents who are the backbone of the workforce,” read a similar Reuters report, dated February 14, 2024, suggesting that there were other Hindu temples in the UAE.

We looked up the official BAPS website, where we did not find any information proclaiming it to be the first Hindu temple in the UAE.

We then ran a keyword search for “Hindu temple UAE”, which led us to multiple write-ups about the new Hindu temple in Jebel Ali, which was opened to worshippers in Dubai on October 5, 2022, the day of the Dussehra festival.  There is also the Shri Krishna Temple, Dubai, which was rebuilt in 1958, further confirming that the BAPS Mandir was not the first Hindu temple in the UAE.

We then reached out to the BAPS organisation over email, which stated, “It would be inaccurate to say that the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi is the first ‘Hindu temple’ in the UAE. However, we believe it is the first ‘traditional Hindu stone temple’ in the UAE.”

Also Read: Video From US Showing PM Modi’s Effigy Tied To Tractor Shared With Digitally Manipulated Audio

Conclusion

The BAPS Hindu Mandir is Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple and not the first in UAE.

Result: False

Sources
Khaleej Times report, February 14, 2024
BBC report, February 15, 2024
BAPS website
The Siasat Daily report, January 3, 2024
Email from BAPS organisation


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Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

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