UAE, Bangladesh to celebrate their golden jubilees this year

Joydeep Sen Gupta/Dubai
Filed on March 25, 2021
M Shahedul Islam, Deputy Consul General of Bangladesh, Dubai and the Northern Emirates. KT Photo: Shihab

Bilateral trade between the two countries expected to touch $2b and likely to grow to $5b by 2025.

The UAE and Bangladesh, a south Asian nation with an estimated population of around 168 million (m), have a shared history. Both countries were founded in 1971 and are celebrating their golden jubilee this year.

Bangladesh was formed on March 26, 1971, and is celebrating its golden jubilee on Friday, while the UAE, which was founded on December 2, 1971, will celebrate its 50 years later this year.

Both nations had established their diplomatic relations way back in 1974.

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of Bangladesh and the country’s first President and Prime Minister, had visited the UAE in 1974 to meet Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, the late Founding Father of the UAE, on his first visit to an Arabian Gulf country in the region.

The bilateral ties have strengthened through the years.

The UAE is home to an estimated 700,000 non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs). Over 50,000 businesses are owned by Bangladeshis and the number is exponentially growing year on year.

NRBs are remitting over $2.8 billion from the UAE every year.

A large section of educated, upwardly mobile Bangladeshi doctors, bankers, lawyers and information technology (IT) professionals are looking at the UAE’s job market, where so far 90 per cent of the country’s working population is restricted to the blue-collar sector.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had visited the UAE four times in a year before the Covid-19 pandemic struck amid a renewed bid to deepen bilateral trade ties.

Drop in criminal activities

M Shahedul Islam, Deputy Consul General of Bangladesh, Dubai and the Northern Emirates, who assumed office last year shortly before the contagion struck the UAE, told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview that, “Contrary to popular perception, the criminal activities of NRBs have seen an appreciable dip last year.”

Captain Baden Al Zafeen, Liaison Officer, Diplomatic and Consular Affairs, Dubai Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), corroborated the diplomat’s claims.

“The criminal activities of Bangladeshi nationals were negligible last year. Dubai Police presented a plaque to the Consul General in recognition of this remarkable feat,” Al Zafeen said.

“Bangladesh is on the cusp of tremendous economic growth, as PM Sheikh Hasina has gone for massive infrastructure development to the tune of $41b in 13 mega projects, where work is currently in progress. The future looks bright as the last decade’s stable government under her leadership has unleashed animal spirits in the economy,” said the diplomat.

Shahedul cited the bilateral trade between the two countries, which exceeded $1.3b in 2019 and is expected to touch $2b and likely to grow to $5b by 2025.

The diplomat offered his deepest condolences, on behalf of his compatriots and the Bangladeshi government about the passing away of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the UAE’s Minister of Finance, earlier this week.

Come and invest in Bangladesh, diplomat urges UAE businesses

He urged investors from the UAE to invest in his native Bangladesh. He cited that Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.8 per cent before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

“It is likely to touch 10 per cent in the next two-three years, as the country is poised to become the fastest-growing economies in the world,” Shahedul said.

Shahedul pointed out massive investment opportunities in key sectors such as manufacturing, retail, information and communication technology (ICT), tourism, healthcare and education.

He listed foreign direct investments (FDIs) could be 100 per cent repatriated, unlike many other nations, and the return on investments would be significantly higher, making Bangladesh one of the attractive investment destinations.

The country is also home to 600,000 skilled IT professionals amid a big push to the fintech sector, he said.

“Dubai Ports World is also looking at investing in Bangladesh and talks are in progress,” he added.

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