India Zindabad! rings across Dubai after cricket victory

Dubai, April 3 (IANS) The Indian tricolour was fluttering on the streets of this Gulf city and people were out shouting and partying after India's victory against Sri Lanka in the cricket World Cup final.

'India Zindabad' rang out across the city as tens of thousands of Indian fans exhibited their patriotic fervour, with the Indian flag seen on virtually every car that passed by the Bur Dubai area along the western creek.

Other areas in the city - which has close to one million Indians living here - such as Jumeirah, Al Qusais and Al Karama also had major festivities with fire crackers and people going for drives and shouting in ecstasy.

'I haven't ever seen so many Indians in Dubai come together like this,' said Bharti Sajnani, a resident of Bur Dubai, as celebrations of India's victory continued on the streets till past midnight.

'I think, more than the win, I'm enjoying this unity and celebration,' Sajnani added.

Wynette Goes, 20, a resident of Al Karama, shared similar sentiments.

'I was in Meena Bazaar after India won, and I have never seen so many people out there. All the Indians in Dubai were there celebrating the win,' she said.

'It was so great to see, it was like a mini-India.'

A similar scene - but not in terms of the scale and size of the gathering - was also witnessed here Thursday after India's victory over Pakistan in the semifinal.

The Pakistani community receive the Indian World Cup win rather well. They had joined the celebrations Thursday as well, happy as they were over the invitation Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had extended to his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the semifinals at Mohali in Punjab.

'I was supporting India this time, and I'm so glad they won,' said Aisha Yaqub, a Pakistani student, referring to the India-Sri Lanka final.

'I think most Pakistanis in Dubai were also supporting them because we have so many Indian friends. It's hard not to support them,' Yaqub added.

The Sri Lankan community, although disappointed, were also a great sport during and after the match, which was watched in Mumbai by their President, Mahinda Rajapakse, and his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil.

'I'm disappointed, but the match was great. That is all that matters. I'm happy for all my Indian friends, well done India,' said Hassanain Anver, a Sri Lankan resident here.

Like in India, cricket in Dubai has become increasingly popular among the South Asian community. During the World Cup, all restaurants, bars, cafes and malls were tuned-in and hooked onto the very addictive game.

(Nikhita Sanotra is a student of mass communications in Dubai)