UAE and Pakistan share a special historical bond
This reminded me of my first childhood visit to my family doctor - a leading Pakistani physician, along with my mother.
A close friend in Emaar Properties (the developers behind Burj Khalifa) said to me that upon completion of world's tallest building in 2009, he gazed to the top of the Burj where he saw a Pakistani worker waving joyfully after completing his work on the skyscraper. This story reflects the pivotal role played by our skillful Pakistani brothers in the economic development witnessed by UAE in the last five decades.
This reminded me of my first childhood visit to my family doctor - a leading Pakistani physician, along with my mother. The doctor impressed me because he was friendly. His treatment regime helped me recover from my ailment. Since then I have met many Pakistani brothers who have been part of the growth story and prosperity of the UAE.
Earlier this year, during a meeting with the honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan at the PM House in Islamabad, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, told PM Khan that when he was five years old (in 1966) he had accompanied the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan during a private visit to Pakistan. Back then, he said he believed that there were only two countries in world - the UAE and Pakistan. This anecdote revealed the late founding father's affinity for Pakistan and how it was his preferred family destination for a number of reasons. The historical and cultural bonds between the brotherly people of UAE and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is as strong as ever and goes back many years.
The shores on both sides of the Arabian Sea - its deserts and weather conditions shaped a similar culture and common destiny for both nations. Ancient history speaks of many cultural, trade exchanges and travels between the peoples of the two countries. The late Sheikh Zayed considered Pakistan his second home, and even before the establishment of UAE he visited Pakistan many times along with other Sheikhs.
These interactions resulted in Pakistan being the first country to recognise UAE as a nation in 1971. Eventually the Pakistani diaspora played an important role in establishing and developing many institutions in the UAE.
Emirates, which is one of the world's leading airlines, is a shining example of the diaspora's role in UAE, as PIA provided technical and administrative assistance to the new carrier and leased Emirates a new Boeing 737-300 and an Airbus A300B4-200. I was delighted to receive - in my office last month - Capt. Rtd. Fazl Ghani Mian, the pilot who lead the inaugural Emirates flight from Dubai to Karachi on October 25, 1985.
The talented people of Pakistan have also been involved in training the UAE military. They are active in the banking, infrastructure and transport sectors. They have risen to positions of prominence in my beautiful and prosperous homeland.
Pakistanis remain important contributors to the UAE's development with 1.6 million of them living in peace and harmony as the second largest expat community in the country. They are involved in the country's business, investment and services sectors. The UAE-based Pakistani community also contributes to Pakistan's economy as they are the second largest source of remittances to their home country.
These contributions have further helped in forging closer UAE- Pakistan relations. Consequently, the UAE has become the largest foreign direct investor in Pakistan with huge investments in oil refineries, telecommunication, banking, aviation and property. Meanwhile, the UAE remains committed to assist Pakistan in improving its economic stability and human development.
The UAE has also established many humanitarian and development programmes for the brotherly people of Pakistan. We have built hospitals, colleges, schools, roads, bridges, airports, housing projects, water supply schemes and many seasonal and emergency relief programs in various provinces of Pakistan.
- Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Alzaabi is the Ambassador of the UAE in Pakistan.