Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) was established in the 1960s and continues to serve its community and has recently launched an ambitious project to build a not-for-profit medical centre to provide free healthcare facilities for those who cannot afford to pay.
Scheduled to open in 2018, the multi-speciality Pakistan Medical Centre will be the largest healthcare facility opened at any expatriate community centre in the world. The facility will cater to all communities in the UAE.
“We are building the medical centre with a novel concept called Own a Brick to cover the cost of the Dh12-million facility,” says Dr Faisal Ikram, General Secretary of PAD.
PAD offers community members 12,000 bricks to own with a price tag of Dh1,000 for each brick for the construction of the building, which will be completed in 18 months.
“Instead of donations, we offer community members a chance to have their share in the medical centre, which will cater to low-income groups of people by offering top-class healthcare facilities,” explains Dr Ikram.
Those who own a brick for Dh1,000 will also get lifetime membership of the association. The membership fee alone costs Dh1,000 per member. This is a win-win situation for those who contribute to this project.
The medical centre is being built in cooperation with Community Development Authority, Dubai Health Authority, Department of Economic Development, Dar Al Ber Society and Emirates Red Crescent. “We are grateful to all the authorities concerned for granting us permission for this unique community project,” says Dr Ikram.
The general secretary says the idea of building the medical centre was conceived by the Medical Wing of the association, which is a group of volunteer Pakistani doctors who hold medical camps once a month to provide free consultations to underprivileged community members.
PAD has been holding free medical camps over the past seven years and so far have examined more than 30,000 patients. The wing has a pool of 50 doctors, including specialists and consultants, and they will also provide volunteer services at the centre.
The medical centre will be built after demolishing the existing building of the association.
The ground floor of the new complex will consist of an office block, a mosque and a restaurant while the first floor will have a medical centre, fitness and rehabilitation centre, meeting rooms and a children’s play area.
PAD is a volunteer, non-profit welfare, social and cultural organisation of Pakistani expatriates. “PAD is the most prestigious body of 1.4 million Pakistanis living in the UAE,” says Dr Ziaul Hassan, President of PAD.
Starting off from a small rented office space in Murshid bazaar in 1963, it has transformed into a well-established and vibrant association with premises in Bur Dubai, built on land gifted by the late Shaikh Rashid Al Maktoum in 1974.
Today, several professional wings of PAD are diligently working in their own nature and capacity and include Professionals Wing, Medical Wing, Journalist Forum, PIC-IBA, ICAP Wing, ICPAP Wing, Pakistan Youth Forum, Pak Chinar Wing, Pak Khyber Wing, Marine Wing, IT- Wing.
Dr Hassan said community welfare remains the key objective of the association. “We have been serving the community by organising cultural, social, sports and educational programmes along with various welfare activities,” he adds.
PAD provides help and support to underprivileged members of society in various forms, such as through providing school fees for the needy, healthcare support, paying medical bills and house rents, legal aid, food packages, facilitating prisoners’ release and much more. PAD has also been actively involved in the relief and rehabilitation projects during natural disasters in Pakistan.
The sports arena at PAD offers facilities for cricket, football, hockey, lawn tennis, basketball and volleyball, as well as indoor facilities for badminton and table tennis.
PAD also provides financial assistance to schoolchildren in the UAE who can’t afford their school fee. The association has signed agreements with various local universities, providing scholarships for postgraduate students.
In 2010, PAD set up an orphanage in Swat, Pakistan, in which 234 students are studying and are adopted by the Pakistani community in the UAE.