Mohammad Abu Zafar, Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, delivering a talk at the Bangladesh Embassy on Friday Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Nearly 750,000 Bangladeshi expats in the UAE marked the 50th year anniversary of their nation’s independence on Friday.

The occasion was marked by the Bangladeshi Embassy in Abu Dhabi. A series of talks that delved into the history and achievements of the South Asian nation. Attendees commemorated the day on which Bangladesh’s founding father, the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, proclaimed its independence from Pakistan, kicking off the country’s nine-month liberation war. The war ended on December 16, 1971, setting up Bangladesh as a nation on the international stage.

Mohammad Abu Zafar, Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News Bangladesh and the UAE established official ties within just a few years of their formation in 1971. Sheikh Mujib visited the UAE in 1974, and the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAE’s founding father, visited Bangladesh in 1984.

“Since then, our ties and cooperation have steadily expanded and deepened in almost all areas. Over the last decade, high-level visits, meetings and engagements between the two countries, particularly that of Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, have raised the bilateral ties to a new historic level,” the Ambassador said.

Sheikh Hasina visited the UAE four times in a two-year span up to January 2020.

Bilateral trade

Bilateral trade between the two nations reached $1.2billion (Dh4.41billion) in 2020, and the UAE is currently Bangladesh’s fifth largest investor, with over $2.5billion (Dh9.18billion) in investment. The value of bilateral trade is expected to cross $2 billion (Dh7.35 billion) by 2024, added Mohammad Shahedul Islam, Deputy Consul General to the UAE.

“The UAE is an important host to Bangladeshi expatriates, who remit around US2.5 billion (Dh9.18billion) a year, which helps the country’s economy. The UAE is also home to more than 50,000 Bangladeshi entrepreneurs,” Islam said.

In fact, the UAE houses the second-largest Bangladeshi diaspora in the UAE after Malaysia.

Abu Zafar said Bangladeshi expats in the UAE are employed in a number of sectors, including construction, domestic work, technical industries, medicine, engineering, education and IT.

“Both Bangladesh and the UAE were born with common aspirations for their people’s prosperity, and supported by the visions of their respective founding fathers. The UAE has already achieved many milestones, and Bangladesh is recognised as a miracle of development in South Asia today, leading the way in women’s empowerment and social inclusion,” the Ambassador said.