As Pakistan completes 75 years of independence today, the nation can look back with pride on the wonderful bilateral relations and long-lasting friendships that successive governments have helped forge through trade and cultural exchange with nations in the Middle East. And one of the strongest and closest of these ties is that enjoyed by Pakistan and the UAE.
Speaking exclusively to GN Focus, Imtiaz Feroze Gondal, Charge de Affaires, Embassy of Pakistan, says, “Pakistan and the UAE have enjoyed close brotherly relations since the inception of the UAE. Pakistan was the first country to recognise the UAE. Late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan had great love for Pakistan and the Pakistani people, who laid a strong foundation of our brotherly relations. The successive leaders of both the countries played important roles in strengthening this relationship.
Strong trade ties
Relations between Pakistan and the UAE are multifaceted and have progressed trouble free. “The economic content of our bilateral relations has strengthened over the years,” says Gondal. “Pakistan-UAE bilateral trade has increased by 25.40 per cent during 2021-22 as compared to the previous year, amounting to $10.60 billion. Exports of Pakistan during the said period were $1.84 billion as compared to $1.48 billion last year, whereas imports of Pakistan amounted to $8.75 billion during 2021-22 as compared to $6.96 billion in the previous year.
Pakistan also benefited through its presence at Expo 2020 Dubai. “Over 250 different economic and cultural events were organised at the Pakistan Pavilion during Expo 2020,” says Gondal. “A number of trade and investment conferences were also organised on the sidelines of Expo 2020, and more than 100 MOUs were signed by Pakistan in terms of investments in various sectors.” In fact, several positives for key sectors such as tourism underline the takeaways for Pakistan from the world fair.
Culture and tourism highlights
The Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020, themed Pakistan: A Hidden Treasure, showcased the nation’s tourism destinations, ancient history, heritage, cultural diversity and economic potential. “It attracted more than a million visitors and was one of the most visited pavilions at Expo 2020,”says Gondal. Expo 2020 was also a bridge that allowed Pakistan to present its vast tourism potential to prospective tourists in the UAE and the world, with a large number of tourism promotions and cultural/musical events being organised.
“Audience and visitors from around the globe attended these events and appreciated the cultural diversity and innumerable tourist attractions of Pakistan,” says Gondal. “We hope more tourists will visit Pakistan in coming years.”
Support during the pandemic
The goodwill and support shared by Pakistan and the UAE were also evident during the pandemic. “After the reopening of business activities in the UAE, the Embassy coordinated with the UAE government to restart flight operations from Pakistan to the UAE so that the people stranded in Pakistan could get back to their jobs here,” says Gondal. “The host government was also requested to give priority in employment to those Pakistani workers who had lost their jobs during the pandemic.”
The Embassy also kept the Pakistani community well informed regarding updated Covid-19 rules and regulations on a continuous basis through the Embassy’s social media accounts and website. The Embassy’s outreach to the Pakistani community is constant. “Periodic Virtual Khuli Kachehris are organised by the Embassy in order to resolve the issues of the diaspora,” says Gondal, adding, “while a Special Help Desk has been established in the Embassy to provide information about consular services. The Community Welfare Section of the Embassy regularly visits the prisons to enquire about Pakistani prisoners. The Embassy officers remain in regular contact with the community to know and help resolve their issues."
Message of hope
The Pakistani diaspora, says Gondal will continue to play critical roles in further strengthening the cordial ties that Pakistan and the UAE have shared.
“Today as we celebrate 75 years of independence, I wish to convey on my behalf and on behalf of the Government of Pakistan my heartfelt felicitations to all Pakistanis residing in the UAE,” says Gondal. “This day reminds us of the sacrifices rendered by our forefathers to achieve this Independence. Those sacrifices demand from us to work harder for peace, prosperity and well-being of our great country and its people.
“The Pakistani community in the UAE is hailed by the leadership of the UAE and Pakistan for their commitment and hard work for the progress and development of both the countries. You are an asset for Pakistan and the strong bond of friendship between Pakistan and the UAE. I urge the Pakistani diaspora in the UAE to continue to strive for excellence and work for the betterment of both the UAE and Pakistan.
Long live Pakistan-UAE friendship! Long live Pakistan! Long live the UAE!”