Muhammad Imran, Bangadesh ambassador to UAE Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archive

Abu Dhabi: Around half a million Bangladeshi expatriates in the UAE will celebrate their country’s National Day on Monday with the nation’s latest achievements that would eventually elevate its status to a developing country from the least developed country (LDC), according to a top Bangladeshi diplomat.

‘The extended consular service week’ being observed by the Bangladeshi diplomatic missions in the UAE to celebrate this achievement [along with the National Day] helped create awareness about this development in the community, Mohammad Imran, the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News in an interview on Sunday.

The Bangladesh embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai are working from 7am to 7pm [instead of regular time of 9am to 2pm] from Tuesday [March 20] to Monday [March 26] as part of ‘the extended consular week’.

“We shared this ‘happy news’ with hundreds of community members who visited the missions to avail of the consular services during the weekend as our consular divisions were open on Friday and Saturday,” the ambassador said.

He said it is a different way of celebration. “We generally have holidays to celebrate achievements. But Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to work more on this occasion. Our consular divisions will work on the National Day as well, which is a national holiday,” he said.

Bangladesh, for the first time, met some of the criteria of the UN, in its triennial review this month, to elevate its status to a developing country from the least developed country, he said. If the country maintains the three criteria such as gross per capita national income above $1,230 (Dh4,514), human asset index [life expectancy above 66] and economic vulnerability index below 32 until the next review in 2021, Bangladesh will be declared as a developing country in 2024, Imran said.

Bangladeshi expatriates in the UAE will join their compatriots back home and across the world to sing national anthem together on the National Day [Monday] at 8am Bangladeshi time [6am in the UAE], the diplomat said.

March 26 is celebrated as National Day as Shaikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, had declared the country’s independence from Pakistan in the late hours of March 25, 1971.

The ambassador said, since then, Bangladesh has achieved considerable economic progress. “We have maintained an average 6 per cent economic growth in the past two decades. Last year, it was 7.24 per cent.”

The country’s life expectancy of 71.5 is better than that of its South Asian neighbours. “We achieved this with health awareness campaigns and intensive immunisation programmes, especially in rural areas. There are no elements that resist such campaigns and programmes,” the ambassador explained.

He said that Bangladesh is the UAE’s humble partner in progress. “We appreciate the UAE’s moral and material support to deal with 1.2 million Rohingya refugees.”

Imran said Bangladesh is proud that its nationals have been part of the UAE’s development since the early days its formation. Bangladeshi companies were actively involved in the major UAE infrastructure projects in 1970s and 1980s, such as a 90-kilometre highway in Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, one of the first sewerage systems in the capital and 5,000 villas in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain region etc, the ambassador said.