Islamabad: The United Arab Emirates and Pakistan yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding dealing with the labour force in a ceremony held here at the Ministry of Labour.

Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, Minister of Labour, signed the MoU for the UAE, while Gholam Sardar Khan, Pakistan's Minister of Labour, Labour Force and Overseas Pakistanis, signed for his country.

On arrival, the UAE delegation met Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. He and Al Ka'abi discussed several issues of mutual interest, particularly the issue of the labour force.

Aziz expressed deep appreciation at the enacting of certain laws by the UAE leadership to ensure the protection of the labour force working in the UAE. He said the number of Pakistanis working in the UAE is now over 860,000. Khan said after the signing ceremony that the MoU would further strengthen the existing bilateral relations between the two countries.

In a statement, Al Ka'abi said the UAE and Pakistan have long-standing friendly relations that are fostered by strong bonds of religion, culture and mutual economic and commercial interests.

"The MoU primarily targets the protection of workers' rights. It also seeks to prevent improper practices by private labour supply agencies which tend to exploit workers by demanding exaggerated fees, providing false information about their working conditions in the host country as well as misleading the employers in the UAE regarding the workers' qualifications, experience and documents," he said.