Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in Abu Dhabi for a bilateral visit, was on Saturday conferred the Order of Zayed, the highest civil decoration of the UAE.

The award was conferred earlier in April 2019 in recognition of the leadership of the Prime Minister for his contribution towards boosting bilateral ties between the two nations.

The award in the name of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, acquires special significance as it was awarded to Prime Minister Modi in the year of the birth centenary of Sheikh Zayed.

The award was conferred to the Prime Minister by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.

A commemorative stamp of Mahatma Gandhi on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary was also released in the presence of government officials and Indian businesspersons.

PM Modi had tweeted that he was humbled by the honour bestowed upon him. “More than an individual, this award is for India’s cultural ethos and is dedicated to 130 crore Indians,” he said while thanking the UAE government.

PM Modi also launched the RuPay Card, an Indian indigenous equivalent of Mastercard or Visa, earlier in the day and bought 1 kg of laddoo using the card.

The UAE is the first country in the Middle East where the RuPay card has been launched.

Ambassador Suri said three banks in the UAE — Emirates NBD, Bank of Baroda and FAB — will start issuing the card by next week.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a technology interface between the payment platforms in India and UAE was exchanged between the National Payments Corporation of India and UAE’s Mercury Payments Services.

Earlier, Modi said that India-UAE bilateral ties have blossomed in the past four years as never before, largely due to the “excellent rapport” that the leadership of the two countries share, adding that he and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan “regard each other as brothers”.

Modi said strengthening the close bilateral relationship had been “one of the most important foreign policy priorities” of his government.

Welcoming Modi, the crown prince expressed gratitude to his “brother” for visiting “his second home”.

“A relationship built over generations! PM @narendramodi and H.H. Crown Prince @MohamedBinZayed led delegation levels talks. Discussed the full spectrum of the strong India-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

There was a “new energy” in the relationship between the two leaders, he said.

Kumar quoted the crown prince as saying, “I am so grateful that my brother is coming to his second home.”

Modi, who is on a tri-nation tour to France, the UAE and Bahrain, reached Abu Dhabi on Friday from Paris. From Abu Dhabi, he will visit Bahrain before returning to France for the G7 summit.

The Prime Minister was in France on August 22 and 23 for a bilateral meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.

He addressed an event of the Indian community at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and also inaugurated a memorial for the Indian victims of two tragic air crashes of Air India flights in 1950 and 1966.