Dubai, Jan 12: A rockstar politician with dreams of a new India, Indian opposition leader and Congress party president Rahul Gandhi struck the right notes on pluralism and compassion on Friday, the first day of his two-day visit to the UAE.
More importantly, he was here to listen to the harmony enjoyed by Indians and other communities. He told Indian workers at a labour accommodation that he would be their voice if they didn't have one. He would vocalise their mann ki baat (what's in their hearts), in what was a dig at Indian PM Narendra Modi's radio programme by the same name.
That struck the right chord for what would be a busy day of events for the man who will lead his Congress party against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Indian elections soon.
What was interesting about the leader was that he showed that he had the common touch. He was humble, accessible, friendly and engaging.
And the crowd loved him for it - more than 25,000 of them - who had packed the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on a nippy night. The mass of humanity overflowed on the roads outside the venue as they hung on to his every word.
"I want to tell you that till the day I die, my doors, my ears and my heart will always be open for you," said Gandhi during his politically-charged but rousing speech.
"We are going to make sure that your voice is heard in your country," he told Indians to loud applause. He held out hope that they would find representation in the Indian upper house of Parliament. Rahul was all praise for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. "I experienced humility. Great nations are built with that kind of humility," he said of the visionary leader.
Rahul Gandhi strikes a chord with Indian expats in UAE