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23-Jan-2020 06:43

Nandini Hazra, a devout Hindu in Dubai, notes, "That feeling of being trappedis just not there any more.

The changes have been tremendous in the last sixor seven years."Hazra acknowledges that when she first came to Dubai nine years ago, it wasdifficult to pursue a Hindu lifestyle."These days, however, I can get anything I want -- all utensils -- in silver,copper or steel, Hindu magazines, prayer books and tapes ofbhajans."The lenience of the Dubai authorities extends much further than availabilityof items.

He is able to get the monetary backing toconduct just about any puja he wants from local devotees.

However, it is interesting to note the reaction of Adri Saha, also a devout Hindu, who spent two months in Oman: "I was pleasantly surprised that therewas an actual brick-and-mortar temple in Oman.

Also, Oman's currentruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, is openly appreciative of the Indians' contribution to his country'sgrowth and he has personally granted support to the two temples in thecountry.

I also saw Bibles being torn."Within Saudi Arabia, as hewould soon learn, even aprivately heldnon-Islamic religious display can get one arrested.But even in Dubai, it is hard to forget that you are in an Islamic country, and this, mixed with rumor, mutual stereotyping, andexpat-unfriendly residence laws, makes the Hindu in the Middle East always alittle nervous, and never completely at home.But in countries like Oman and the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, this fear is being increasingly temperedwith liberalization.This includes, forexample, praying alone in one's house.

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Nonetheless, thousands of Hindus and other Indians flock to the Middle East each year.Hazra talksabout how Hindus gathered last year at a large open space in Dubai and"played color" for Holi.