Mohammad Abu Zafar, Bangladesh Consul General, along with other consulate staff and guests, hoists the national flag at the consulate premises in Dubai. Image Credit: Asghar Khan/Gulf News

Dubai: The Bangladeshi community in the UAE observed their 41st Independence Day yesterday with marked patriotic sentiment.

The celebrations began with flag hoisting at the Bangladesh Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Bangladesh Consulate in Dubai, followed by a host of activities, including cultural performances and talks on the country's history and achievements.

The UAE is home to an estimated million Bangladeshis. On the occasion, Bangladeshi expatriates expressed pride in their country's progress. Asif Islam, a student, said he relates to the same patriotic fervour as the older community. He told Gulf News, "We didn't have a country until 1971. That historical day [March 26] is close to my heart. Today, we have freedom and human rights. It makes me proud. We have achieved so much since our independence."

A sense of belonging

Zaina Abidine, fellow Bangladeshi, said she feels a sense of belonging. She told Gulf News, "I am proud to be a Bangladeshi. We have our own identity born of a free country."

Ishaq Shafe'ei, who has lived in Dubai since birth, said he doesn't know much about the way the day is observed in Bangladesh. "I want to be home and celebrate this day on the same scale as the UAE did on its 40th anniversary," he told Gulf News.

Zihan Islam, a Dubai-based banker, told Gulf News that she celebrates the day in her "own special way". She said, "I will keep all those brave civilians and martyrs in my prayers, hoist my green-red flag high and garnish the day with a nice Bengali movie."

The Bangladesh Consul General in Dubai, Mohammad Abu Zafar, said it is a "glorious day" for every Bangladeshi at home and abroad. He told Gulf News, "We lost millions of lives during the war [Bangladesh Liberation War]. We paid a huge price to gain our independence. We know the significance of the day."

His message to the Bangladeshi expatriate community was to "work together to build a prosperous Bangladesh and project the true image of the country".

Enhancing nation's image

The same message was delivered by Mohammad Nazmul Quaunine, the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, at the Embassy in Abu Dhabi. He told Gulf News, "I urge our community members to continue their efforts across all areas within the UAE to enhance the image of our country."

The official bodies in both emirates highlighted the ties between Bangladesh and the UAE. "We are working on strengthening our economic ties. We are also formulating green policies with support from the UAE to help our country that is vulnerable to climate change," the Consul General said.

The Ambassador added, "We are in the process of arranging a series of cross governmental visits to strengthen our cultural and economic ties."