Islamabad: The colourful banners on roads, roaring fly-past by JF-17 jets in the skies and extensive live coverage of the visiting UAE dignitary by TV channels and social media, made the state visit a special one for Pakistanis. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited Pakistan after nearly 12 years.
“The ceremony was impressive. It’s wonderful to see the extraordinary welcome for the leader of our brotherly country as UAE is like second home for most Pakistanis,” Zaid Shah, an entrepreneur, who frequently visits Dubai for business, told Gulf News. “The UAE is one of our closest partners and we must appreciate their assistance in different fields.”
The UAE is expected to offer Pakistan a support package of nearly $6.2 billion that will involve a cash deposit and deferred fuel payments to help Pakistan overcome its balance of payments issues.
“This new support package is in fact a New Year’s gift for Pakistanis from the UAE,” said Faiza Khalid, a Pakistani expat who lives in Dubai. “This new support from the UAE will further boost Pakistan-UAE ties.”
The visit of UAE official is aimed at building on the fresh momentum in ties injected by recent contacts at the leadership level, the Foreign Office said.
This is the third interaction between the leadership of Pakistan and UAE in three months. The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and home to more than 1.6 million expatriates who contribute around $4.5 billion annually to the GDP. The UAE is also Pakistan’s major development partner, with major contribution in education, health, energy and infrastructure development.
Recently, UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE PAP) took off under the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The programme consists of 40 development and humanitarian projects at a cost of Dhs736 million ($200 million), funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.