Dubai: Bangladesh Government will set up a cultural centre in Dubai to strengthen the bilateral relations with the UAE and the greater Arab world, which a top official said, would improve cultural understanding.

The country's present government is also planning to extend the voting infrastructure to allow more than eight million non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) spread across five continents to vote in general elections. Nearly half of them live in the Middle East.

"We are planning to set up a number of cultural centres in key cities across the world, such as Dubai, New York, London, and New Delhi," Abul Kalam Azad, Bangladesh's Minister for Information and Culture told Gulf News on Thursday.

"We are also developing our archaeological, historic and religious sites for the promotion of tourism and cultural understanding that will portray our rich cultural heritage. The centre will help develop that understanding among the Arab citizens with who we share Islamic culture."

He is leading a 20-member cultural delegation to the UAE as part of the Bangladesh community's celebration of the 40th Victory and National Day that spans across three days in the country.

Although no time-frame has been fixed yet on the project, but it is expected to be set up in a few year's time.

Paying rich tribute to the UAE leadership, the Minister said, "The new cultural centre will help us to promote more cultural exchanges between the two countries. Both the countries share rich Islamic heritage and we would like to strengthen that.

"This is part of our overall development strategy under the Vision 2021 launched by the Honourable Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina to develop the country to the next stage."

The UAE is home to nearly a million non-resident Bangladeshis who remitted $1.89 billion in last fiscal year ending June 30, 2010. The UAE is Bangladesh's second biggest source of wage earners' remittances, after Saudi Arabia.

Bangladesh, which was born 14 days after the UAE in December 16, 1971, began diplomatic relations in 1974 with a historic visit by Bangabandhu Shaikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh's founder.

His daughter, who is leading the current government of the Grand Alliance since January 2009, seeks to enhance trade and investment with the GCC countries.

In a statement to the Bangladeshi expatriates, Dr. Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister said, "I am particularly mindful of the valuable contributions of Bangalee expatriates. They are our goodwill ambassadors abroad and I urge them also to remain committed to Vision 2021."

Azad said, his country has cracked down on corruption and extremism to strengthen political stablility. This has enabled to restore investor confidence among the international donors and investors.

"With improved political stability and better investment climate, I urge the UAE's business community to invest in Bangladesh's power and energy sector through joint ventures," he said.

Bangladesh has successfully overcome the negative impact of the global economic slowdown, he said. Export earnings have recorded 36 per cent growth while the country now ranks world’s sixth biggest remittance recipient.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday disbursed $1 billion soft loan to support the country’s economic growth.

"Despite a challenging global environment in recent years, Bangladesh has posted solid economic performance, with growth close to 6 per cent in FY2010," David Cowen, head of an IMF delegation said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Conditions are expected to improve over the medium term, with ready-made garment exports and investment demand providing a boost. These factors are creating supportive conditions in FY2011."

Consulate building

Bangladesh Consulate has assigned Adnan Saffarini to design the new Consulate building in Bur Dubai at a designated area reserved for Bangladesh, Consul General Mohammad Abu Zafar told Gulf News.

"If things progress well, the new building should be ready by mid-1012," he said. "We will soon begin tendering process after the detailed designs are made ready."

The project will house a multi-purpose hall with seating capacity of 400 people that will help the members of the large community to host fuctions.

Zafar said, the construction of the new consulate building will fulfill a long-standing desire of the community - one of the largest in the UAE. "We are putting a lot of efforts to design it in such a way, that will help the community in many ways," he said.