Dubai: Dr Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan, has said that Expo 2020 Dubai offers ‘unprecedented’ opportunities to the Pakistan government and the private sector.
“It is the perfect venue for us to reach out to the larger global audience to attract foreign investment in different sectors, including renewable energy, mineral resources, real estate, engineering, information technology, agriculture and tourism,” he added.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News from Islamabad, just ahead of his visit to Dubai, President Alvi spoke about his visit to Expo 2020 Dubai, bilateral relations between UAE and Pakistan and the emerging socioeconomic scenario in the region.
“It is heartening to see the overwhelming response to Expo 2020 Dubai, with visitors coming to the mega event from all parts of the world,” said President Alvi who is scheduled to arrive in Dubai tomorrow on a two-day visit to inaugurate the Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. He will be accompanied by some top government officials and leading businessmen. He will also meet Pakistani community members, leading businessmen and media persons. His visit coincides with 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Pakistan.
“Our active presence in Expo 2020 Dubai also signifies our renewed focus on geo-economics ,” he noted
With the theme ‘Hidden Treasure’, the Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai aims to showcase the soft image of Pakistan and the rich cultural heritage of the country.
The world’s greatest show, ‘Expo 2020 Dubai’, which opened its doors on October 1, runs for six months with the participation of around 192 countries. It is going to be one of the largest global events that would connect governments, private sector and the general public.
UAE-Pakistan ties: ‘Standing the test of time’
Talking about UAE-Pakistan relations, President Alvi said: “The brotherly relationship between Pakistan and the UAE has stood the test of time and progressed over the years. We have maintained regular leadership-level interactions, aimed at reviewing and enhancing political, economic, trade and investment, cultural and defence cooperation. An all-encompassing strategic relationship, improved economic ties, sharing of knowledge and technology as well as cooperation in tourism and social sectors are the areas of our immediate focus.”
Appreciating the role of Pakistani expatriates in the UAE, President Alvi said that overseas Pakistanis are a great asset for the country. “Pakistan greatly values all its nationals residing and working around the world, especially in the Gulf Region, as they contribute a lot to the economic development of our country,” he noted.
Strengthening relationship with Muslim nations
“In this context, the relationship between the UAE and Pakistan is also people-centric and consistently nurtured by the 1.6 million-strong Pakistani diaspora in the UAE. They are an effective bridge between our two nations and a source of pride for Pakistan,” he explained, adding that strengthening relationship with Muslim countries is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistani expatriates in the UAE contributed to their country’s economy with more than $6 billion (Dh22.06 billion) of remittances last year.
About the recent development in the region vis-a-vis the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s role, President Alvi said: “We are closely following the developments taking place in Afghanistan and are in contact with the international community on this issue. We also remain engaged with Afghanistan because we cannot afford to disengage. Being the immediate neighbour of Afghanistan, with a 2,600km-long border, and hosting nearly four million Afghan refugees, we have an abiding interest and desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan. “We have consistently underscored the need for a political solution and have supported every effort for peace in Afghanistan. We have remained part of all mechanisms, regional and international, aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
Ensuring peace in Afghanistan
President Alvi further said that Pakistan itself has been the biggest victim of the situation in Afghanistan, having lost more than 80,000 lives and over $150 billion in terms of the economy, besides hosting millions of refugees. “Peace in Afghanistan is also critical to realise our vision of regional connectivity, economic integration and development. That explains our interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Therefore, the country most desirous of peace in Afghanistan is Pakistan.”
The brotherly relationship between Pakistan and the UAE has stood the test of time and progressed over the years. We have maintained regular leadership-level interactions, aimed at reviewing and enhancing political, economic, trade and investment, cultural and defence cooperation.
He further commented: “We also continue to emphasise that sustained, constructive engagement of the international community is imperative to avoid a humanitarian crisis and help ensure durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Well-being of the Afghan people should be the foremost priority,” he added.
President Alvi said that as a part of the larger Muslim Ummah, the relations with Gulf countries are of paramount importance to Pakistan. “We have long-standing relations with these countries based on common faith, culture, values and shared history. Strong, multifaceted ties with the Gulf countries are therefore central to Pakistan’s foreign policy,” he concluded.
The Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai has been built at a cost of around Dh110.2 million. It is primed to take visitors on a voyage through time while featuring ‘hidden treasures’ of the country. The pavilion’s theme ‘Pakistan: The Hidden Treasure’ aims to enhance the country’s tourism, commerce and investment.
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Pakistan’s four provinces and two regions will be featured at the pavilion during the six-month expo. Each of the six months have been dedicated to a province or a region, starting with Balochistan in October — showcasing its culture, people, food and investment.
The pavilion has been built on an area of 35,000 square feet and is located in the Opportunity District of Expo 2020 Dubai.