Consul General of Bangladesh BM Jamal Hossain raises Bangladesh’s National Flag at the Bangladesh Consulate in Dubai, flanked by government officials and community leaders, on the occasion of Bangladesh’s Independence and National Day Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Bangladeshi Consulate in Dubai on Tuesday marked the country’s 54th Independence Day and hailed 50 years of ties with the UAE.

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BM Jamal Hossain, Consul General of Bangladesh to Dubai and Northern Emirates, hoisted the national flag at the mission’s premises. To respect the spirit of Ramadan, the Consulate said, celebrations are postponed until after Eid Al Fitr. The Bangladeshi Embassy plans a grand reception on April 17, coinciding with the formation of the Government of Bangladesh in Exile.

In an exclusive interview on the occasion, Hossain told Gulf News that the presence of more than 1.2 million Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) is at the heart of the bilateral relations with the UAE.

Hossain said Bangladeshi expats in UAE remit around $3 billion [around Dh11 billion] to Bangladesh annually Image Credit: Supplied

Pointing out that Bangladesh and UAE are working together to further boost their ties, he said: “Bangladesh is now focusing on promoting skilled manpower exports to the GCC countries – in professional and management level – so that they can contribute in a bigger way. Our large corporations are also expanding into the UAE and we expect NRBs will play even greater role in the UAE economy.”

Workforce in UAE

During the last few years, he said around 250,000 Bangladeshis joined the UAE job market, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET). “However, those who were hired locally, are not included in these statistics and we will not know the number unless they come and inform us.”

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Most Bangladeshis are working in low-income categories, as they are unskilled and semi-skilled workers. However, there are more than 100,000 entrepreneurs who run businesses, mostly in the auto workshops, tailoring, retail sector including groceries and supermarkets, cleaning and maintenance businesses. In addition to these, there are more than 10,000 Bangladeshi engineers and professionals who are doing well in the public and private sectors.

“Together, they remit around $3 billion [around Dh11 billion] to Bangladesh annually,” the Consul General revealed.

Trade ties

Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and the UAE has shown promising growth, reaching $2.51 billion in 2021-2022. While trade slightly declined in 2022-2023, both nations anticipate further growth in the current financial year, he said.

Talks and efforts to sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) aim to enhance economic cooperation and open new avenues for trade and investment.

Golden years of partnership

In March 1974, diplomatic relations between the UAE and Bangladesh were established, marking the beginning of a significant partnership.

“This milestone was swiftly followed by a state visit from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh, who met with the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE. This historic encounter laid the foundation for a strong bond between the two nations, leading to an influx of Bangladeshi workers, professionals, and businessmen who contributed significantly to the UAE’s economic development.”

Bangladesh-UAE collaboration expanded into aviation, banking, and construction, with Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Janata Bank establishing operations in Dubai, alongside Bangladeshi firms contributing to villa construction for UAE nationals, enhancing bilateral ties.

Over the years, successive leaders from both countries have nurtured and strengthened this relationship.

“High-level engagements between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan have propelled bilateral relations to new heights. Through ongoing dialogues and shared initiatives, the UAE and Bangladesh continue to deepen our partnership, exemplifying a dynamic and enduring alliance,” the Consul General added.