Opinion | Editorials

Expo 2020 vote: UAE deserves answers from Pakistan and Afghanistan

Islamabad and Kabul withheld their votes in favour of Dubai for Expo 2020 despite assurances

  • Gulf News
  • Published: 20:00 December 14, 2013
  • Gulf News

As the race dust settles and the celebrations subside, following the Expo 2020 victory, it is imperative to take stock of such a thrilling competition. The UAE beat such magnificent opponents like Russia, Brazil and Turkey. At a different time, each of their candidate cities could most probably have won hands-down. But, according to many of the delegates who were present at the Bureau International des Expositions on November 27, our own Dubai represented everything that the Expo stands for — cosmopolitan, open-minded, sophisticated and innovative.

Most countries voted for Dubai for those reasons. And we thank them for that. The list is big obviously, but a number of countries must be acknowledged here for their role in supporting Dubai’s winning bid. These include Kuwait, which played a key role in rallying such support. Also, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and Portugal must be recognised for standing by the UAE. It is only fair to acknowledge the backing of those countries and thank them.

However, we in Gulf News were stunned and disappointed to learn that two close allies of the UAE chose not to vote for Dubai. Pakistan and Afghanistan voted for other cities despite their governments’ official assurances that they would vote for Dubai.

We are disappointed because we consider those two countries to be close friends in whom the UAE has invested so much politically and economically. The UAE is a key financial supporter of the infrastructure and development projects in Pakistan. The historic relations between the two peoples will not be affected by what the government in Islamabad did on the night of the Expo 2020 vote. But we deserve an explanation of why such a close ally chose to withhold its backing when it was needed.

We deserve an explanation from Afghanistan too. Our boys are still deployed in that country risking their lives to provide essential humanitarian, medical and security aid. The UAE is a major donor in rebuilding the country that has seen more than its share of wars and occupations since the Soviet invasion in the late 1970s. The UAE has put in so much effort to set up modern schools, hospitals and road networks. The UAE has always thrown its weight in support of those two countries as they fought terrorism.

Despite their assurances, those two countries declined to vote for Dubai, which leads to serious questions about their credibility as allies. Also, can these governments justify their positions to their large communities in the UAE? These two communities live and work in the UAE and have been an important part of the development process of our country. As all other expatriate communities in the UAE, the Pakistani and Afghan communities supported Dubai’s bid whole-heartedly. Do they know their governments have voted against Dubai in the crucial rounds?

Can these governments face their communities here with the true face of their policies with regard to the critical Expo vote? We certainly doubt. As we feel it is only fair to be grateful and thank those countries which supported Dubai’s bid to host the Expo, we feel that we have been betrayed by two close allies. We expected those two countries to be the first to offer their backing, considering the close-knit relationship that binds our people. But Islamabad and Kabul chose to disregard all that binds us and turned their back on us at a critical moment. And that is just incomprehensible.

Editor's Note: This story is now closed for comment. However, you can continue to send us your feedback via email at readers@gulfnews.com

Comments (981)

  1. Added 14:47 December 16, 2013

    Clearly the article was a shock for most of the LOYAL readers of GULF NEWS. This article has clearly let down a lot of loyal readers of Gulf News. To be very honest the usage of words and the idea of the article is pathetic! Was it even reviewed before being published. If he had been, one would know that you have got the facts wrong here. On the other hand something as confidential being printed on a front page and homepage of the newspaper; are you really serious? What cheap journalism tactics are these? UAE will never lose the support of Pakistan but the so called management at Gulf News should be ready for it already! Once again GN shame on you!

    Sadia Akbar, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 13:44 December 16, 2013

    Really shameful to see such an unprofessional article. It is indeed biased... We need to show unity here and cancel our subscription to gulf news in protest. I confirm that I have done it. Please follow. There are better options.

    nauman, sharjah, Pakistan

  3. Added 13:38 December 16, 2013

    Yes agreed this is an Opinion article - but freedom of speech does not mean there are no boundaries of what is reported or how. If the author is demanding answers they should atleast have had the courage to print their name.

    Tanya Hassan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 13:34 December 16, 2013

    What a disappointment to READ THIS, How people Wrote concern things without any confirmation, I am memeber of EXPO/Pakistan No one could be able to disclosed worldwide voting system, as that system generate the vote on one click and with in same sec entry inculdes in total and the next sec it has been deleted that who had been voting to whom No one able to find. we Respect Emiratis like our own family member as they always supported Pakistan There is no way that Pakistan could ignore UAE, SO THINK and OPEN YOUR EYES.

    Syed, Islamabad, Pakistan

  5. Added 13:34 December 16, 2013

    Shame on you gulf news for posting such news. This news showed us gulf news immaturity. read the comments and think how it will effect your newspaper. We Pakistanis Love UAE and Love our country. Dubai is our second home. This news did hurt a lot of Pakistanis. Gulf News must apologize to Pakistani nation.

    Nadir, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:33 December 16, 2013

    This is the height of unprofessional journalism, or shall I call it yellow journalism. By no means it is news, it is propaganda of lobbyists , using GN platform, and it is clearly meant to provoke people. I hereby demand an apology by the newspaper for publishing such a shameful crap, and such apology should be posted as a headline. I also expect this newspaper to take immediate action against their employees behind this. I would also like to tell GN team, that as protest, I will never buy this newspaper and never open this website again. NO Regards

    Imran, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 13:24 December 16, 2013

    Firstly, Pakistan is an independent and sovereign nation, with its own foreign policy and interests. Voting is a democratic process, with each voter having the right to vote for whichever candidate it wishes, without having its motives questioned or explanations demanded. Gulf News obviously has zero intention to publish the full results of the voting and criticize others who haven't voted for Dubai. Why target Pakistan? What is the motive? Secondly, Pakistan committed its vote to another nation it has extremely friendly ties with – Turkey. Pakistan pledged its vote to Turkey months before Dubai made a late entry into the bidding process for Expo 2020 in late 2011. After fulfilling its pledge to vote for Izmir in the first voting round, Pakistan switched to Dubai and supported it in the next two voting rounds, leading to Dubai’s win. Since its inception, UAE’s relations with Pakistan have been exemplary. Pakistanis constitute one of the largest and most diverse set of expat communities in the UAE, woven into the fabric of the local economy. Pakistanis own and run business, restaurants, retail outlets, educational institutions, and are the third highest investors in Dubai’s real-estate market. Pakistanis have also worked for decades as waiters, construction workers, delivery men, and taxi drivers. Pakistan’s government has been a key contributor to the UAE in setting up its vital national institutions since the late 70s, including Emirates Airlines which today stands proud as the World’s leading carrier. Among the first aircraft flown by Emirates in mid 1980s were an Airbus A300 and Boeing 737, leased from Pakistan. Pakistani crew worked hand in hand with their Emirati counterparts in getting Emirates in the air. Even today Pakistani military and civilians contribute massively in training and assisting their Emirati counterparts in many technical fields. The UAE has been appreciative of Pakistan’s contribution to the evolution of key institutions in the Emirates such as armed forces, police, health and education, and has reciprocated in the same friendly manner to the full satisfaction of Pakistan. It has been one of Pakistan’s key supporters diplomatically and is responsible for a number of development programmes in Pakistan. The UAE is among Pakistan’s most important economic and trade partners. The above is a very tiny detail of the much broader exemplary relations enjoyed by the two nations which have stood the test and trials of time. Which is why it is an absolutely shameful, if not criminal, attempt by Gulf News to create a rift between the two. The reader’s comments section of Gulf News is filled with comments from outraged residents, not just Pakistanis, calling for action against those responsible for allowing such a bigoted, baseless, and despicable editorial to go to press. It goes against everything that Dubai’s ruler HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum has supported and promoted over the years – peaceful coexistence and inclusiveness leading to personal and social growth, which makes Dubai an example for the rest of the world. The celebratory mood in the Emirate will continue, its Pakistani residents will participate wholeheartedly to continue to take Dubai to newer heights. Hosting the 2020 Expo brings a lot of attention from the entire world’s media and last thing Dubai needs is negative press. One only has to look across to Qatar to see how hosting a global event can backfire from a PR perspective. Thankfully Dubai has no such concerns that have bogged down the Doha World Cup campaign. Which is why the shameful editorial by Gulf News has no place in the vision Dubai is working to achieve for 2020, and nothing short of a front page apology and the immediate resignation of those responsible will suffice.

    Dr. Khuram S. Malik, UAE, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 13:22 December 16, 2013

    With reference to your today's edition, where you have demanded answers from 2 states over expo 2020. It is inter-state matter, are you thinking yourself as a state or state within state, based which you are questioning other states and developing public perception, rather than giving news. The anti-Pakistan propaganda is visible in the news from long long time, beside that by putting materials written by western journalists against the Islamic World, actions are clearly indicating the objectives.

    Nasir, UAE, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 13:15 December 16, 2013

    I was disheartened and amazed by your awfully shoddy and biased editorial position on Pakistan not supporting the UAE for the Expo bid. If you had done your due research you would have seen the former government under President Zardari had already given its commitment to Turkey for Izmir in March 2011. Way back before, the UAE submitted its bid for hosting the World Expo. Which was in November 2011. That was much later than Pakistan had pledged for Izmir. Please retract your anonymous front page story and the awfully shoddy editorial!

    Amena K Hyder, UAE, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 13:15 December 16, 2013

    I am a gulf news subscriber for past 4 years. The subject Article on December 15 is extremely unprofessional ,totally biased and lacking facts. It hurt the sentiments of the two communities in UAE. There was little to write but the article was expanded by repeating same points again and again. GN must check its editorial policy on how such an article got published and a public apology should be published. Otherwise we the readers might consider reactions such as unsubscribing.

    M. Imran Asghar, UAE, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

Gulf News
Quick Links

  1. Business

  2. Sport

  3. The latest Entertainment news

  4. The latest Lifestyle stories

  5. Blogs

  6. Opinion

In Opinion

  1. Meet Our Writers

  2. Columnists

  3. Editorials

  4. Off the Cuff

  5. Your say

  6. Speak Your Mind

Latest Columns

  1. Standing united against Isil extremists

  2. The democratic sultan of Turkey

  3. Israel has no ‘Protective Edge’

  4. Ebola remedy that’s better than serum

  5. Hatred breeds more hatred and revenge

  6. Nato allies must rise to Russia’s threats