Pakistan Association Dubai: Forte of diversified community activities
Dr Zia ul Hasan, President, Pakistan Association Dubai, with Shahid Afridi as he signs an MOU between Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) and the Shahid Afridi Foundation in support of the Pakistan Centre.
Pakistan Association Dubai has been serving Pakistani expatriates with cultural, social, sports and educational programmes alongside various welfare activities
Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) is a volunteer, non-profit, welfare, social and cultural organisation of Pakistani expatriates. PAD is one of the most prestigious bodies of 1.5 million Pakistanis living in the UAE and is registered with the Community Development Authority, Government of Dubai.
Starting off from a small rented office space in Murshid Bazaar in 1963, it has transformed into a well-established and vibrant association with premises in Bur Dubai, built on land that was gifted by the late Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum in 1974.
Pakistan Association Dubai is the spirit and palpitation of many Pakistanis; a reality to their dreams, a stature of hope and a body of pride. Pakistanis in the UAE who have come all over from the deserts of Mehran, the skirting hills of Bolan, the agricultural beauties of Punjab, the cascades of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, and the heavenly spectacle of Kashmir, are all united under one slogan: "We are Pakistanis - We are One".
The Founding Father of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah had said: "The success of our achievement will depend upon our unity, discipline and faith, not only in ourselves, but in Allah who determines the destinies of people and nations." Based on these principles, the Association has obtained the honour of being one of the first of its kind and is on the go to serve the community in the best possible fashion. Today, several professional wings of PAD diligently work in their own nature and capacity, and include a Professionals Wing, Medical Wing, Journalist Forum, PIC-IBA, ICAP Wing, ICPAP Wing, Pakistan Youth Forum, Pak Chinar Wing, Pak Khyber Wing, Marine Wing, and IT Wing.
Community welfare remains the key objective of PAD. It has been serving the community by organising cultural, social, sports and educational programmes along with various welfare activities. PAD provides help and support to the underprivileged people of the society in various forms, like providing school fees for needy, health support, paying medical bills and house rents, legal aids, food packages, facilitating prisoner release, etc. PAD has also been actively involved in relief and rehabilitation projects during natural disasters in Pakistan.
Its main community welfare activities are focused in the following areas:
PAD celebrates Pakistan and UAE national days with great spirit and fervour every year. Celebrations like Mera Pakistan, Pakistan Awards Ceremony, Solidarity Celebrations, Meena Bazar, and Food Festival are among the few.
Month-long solidarity celebrations to mark the UAE National Day reflect the historic brotherly relationship between the two countries. A "Solidarity Walk" is attended in thousands by the Pakistani community every year to show solidarity with Emirati brethren on December 2.
Stage dramas and literary events are regularly organised throughout the year with grand poetry sessions by famous poets from Pakistan.
The arts and photography club organises exhibitions to highlight Pakistani talent in and outside Pakistan.
PAD provides sport activities by organising various cricket, football, volleyball, etc. tournaments.
A cricket training academy with cemented and trough pitches and a lawn tennis court are available for the community.
Outdoor activities like Desert Fun Drives are an attraction for 4x4 lovers.
Its "Sports Arena", a seven-sport facility for cricket, football, hockey, lawn tennis, basketball, volleyball, and with indoor games facilities of badminton and table tennis, is a great value addition to the Pakistan Association Dubai.
PAD provides financial assistance to schoolchildren in the UAE who cannot afford school fees. The Pakistan Professional Wing of PAD also grants scholarships to needy Pakistani students. PAD signed MOUs with various local universities to provide scholarships for postgraduate students. In 2010, it set up an orphanage (Parwarish) in Swat, where 234 students are studying and adopted by the Pakistani community in the UAE.
PAD organises teacher training workshops and seminars for 10 Pakistani schools in the UAE to provide them an opportunity to develop their teaching skills. It also organises English language classes for labourers and drivers, and Arabic classes for community members. PAD also organises educational events, summer camps, personality development seminars, career counselling and educational exhibitions for the community. PAD also organises youth enhancement workshops from time to time for Pakistani students in community schools.
Free medical camps are organised by the Medical Wing of PAD every month that has been providing basic health checks, consultations and chronic medication to needy patients since 2009. Health awareness activities at labour camps are held periodically in collaboration with CDA and major hospital groups. MOUs signed with various low-cost lab facilities provide affordable eye checks and dental treatments. It regularly conducts blood donation camps to support the Thalassaemia Centre. The Medical Wing of PAD conducts Continuous Medical Education (CME) seminars for health professionals. Pakistan Youth Forum also organises workshops on health awareness and oral hygiene in the Pakistani schools.
PAD distributes food packages to needy families and Iftar packs at labour camps during the month of Ramadan. It also takes part in old age home visits and gifts for the elderly, "Walk for a cause" to raise funds for flood victims, "Fast for a Cause" for Education, and "Shukran" initiative for Dubai Municipality cleaners and workers.
They take part in beach cleaning campaigns in collaboration with Dubai Municipality, and road and safety campaigns with RTA.
Prisoners release campaign
There are a number of Pakistani prisoners in jail for minor offences or awaiting air tickets after completion of their sentence. PAD helps pay their fines and provides air tickets to repatriate with the assistance of the Pakistan Consulate. PAD team remains in touch with jail authorities and provides basic utility items and Eid gifts for prisoners and their families.
Relief during natural disasters
PAD with help of the community, in collaboration with Emirates Red Crescent Society, provided relief to affected people in Pakistan during the earthquake of 2005 and disastrous floods of 2010 and 2011 in Pakistan. PAD focused on providing shelter, setting up dispensaries, providing ambulances, installation of water filtration plants, etc.
PAD also supported the Emirates Red Crescent Society in relief efforts in Kosovo and Sri Lanka, alongside a "Qurbani project" and "Winter support programme 2013" to support earthquake victims
With the grace of Almighty Allah, PAD carries out these activities solely on volunteer basis with financial support from community members and various corporations.
The Pakistan Auditorium, a landmark and great achievement of the community, sufficiently caters for the social needs of the community such as events, cultural shows, wedding events, birthday parties, stage dramas, symposia room, e-library, conference hall, education events, arts and exhibitions. The environment is fantastic for families and all age groups.
"The unique and wonderful Association feels indebted to the overwhelming response and support from members of the community for these achievements, and are grateful as none of this would have been possible without the guidance of licensing authority, the Community Development Authority, Government
of Dubai," said Dr Faisel Ikram, General Secretary, Pakistan Association Dubai.
Pakistan Association Dubai, representing all Pakistanis in the UAE, has decided to launch a new building within the Association, the Pakistan Centre. The highlight of the centre will be a self-sustainable Pakistan Medical Centre (PMC). PMC services can be accessed by any community members, and initial approvals by the CDA and DHA have already been achieved.
Pakistan Medical Centre is conceived and built on the experience of the Medical Wing of Pakistan Association Dubai. Member doctors and paramedics along with numerous volunteers have been conducting monthly free health camps for over seven years at the Association and in labour camps, which gave it an insight of the community health needs. A large number of expatriates do not have access to quality health services, a prime and basic need of the community. The plan includes supporting public health issues, training and research, as well as partnerships across the communities.
A social and recreational club is considered incomplete without a quality theme restaurant; children's play area, health fitness areas, and modern and contemporary office block and meeting rooms. All such facilities are part of
By achieving the above goals, Pakistan Association Dubai aims to transform itself into a prestigious institution that will be a source of utmost pride for every Pakistani residing in the UAE and a valuable gift to the future generation. Pakistanis have tremendous potential to achieve their goals even in difficult times and with community support, it will complete new projects as "One Nation, One Dream". Insha'Allah.