Pakistan Association Dubai: Building a monument of pride

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Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of State for Tolerance, laying the foundation stone of Pakistan Centre on August 14, 2017.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of State for Tolerance, laying the foundation stone of Pakistan Centre on August 14, 2017.

The Pakistan Centre hosts 'Own an Hour' for the community in the Year of Zayed

By Dr. Faisel Ikram

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Published: Fri 23 Mar 2018, 2:44 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Dec 2022, 3:41 PM

A responsible community is one that is aware of what is happening around and can back up the disadvantaged amongst them. This sense of community service brings out the best in people and gives them a sense of ownership. At Pakistan Association Dubai, this is exactly what we do.

Our new project of Pakistan Centre is designed in a manner that each member of the community can participate and contribute in their own way. Usually when we talk about contribution, it is considered more of financial contribution, but there's more to it. Time, skills, expertise and, above all, passion is required. The Pakistani community residing in the UAE has the passion and the potential to give back to the community. Hence we initiated the 'Own a Brick' campaign for the Pakistan Centre, which when completed would be the world's largest community centre for overseas Pakistanis. It encourages members of the community to own a brick(s) for the larger good and participate in a noble cause.

  • Pakistan Centre is a Dh15 million project, comprising 15,000 bricks. Each brick is worth Dh1,000.
  • The breakdown includes:
  • Pakistan Medical Centre: 7,500 bricks
  • Health and Fitness Centre: 1,000 bricks
  • Mosque: 1,000 bricks
  • Themed restaurant: 1,000 bricks
  • Business Incubation Centre, Seminar Rooms, BBQ and play area: 1,500 bricks
  • Operational and equipment: 3,000 bricks

The highlight of the Dh15 million project is a non-profit Pakistan Medical Centre, which is a first community healthcare facility in the GCC that is open to all nationalities. The idea for a permanent healthcare centre came after the monthly medical camps held on Fridays at the premises of PAD since 2009 by the Medical Wing. Until now, over 23,000 patients have been served in over 90-plus medical camps. Each camp approximately has 250 patients with nearly 225 volunteer hours dedicated by a team per camp.

This led to a thought process of what exactly should be done, and we came up with a plan to set up a medical centre of our own where we could cater to those who are less privileged.

Dr. Nighat Aftab, President of the Medical Wing, says about the upcoming Pakistan Medical Centre: "We have an efficient team that would supervise the running of the centre and ensure high standards of professionalism are met." Other than the medical centre, we have several other components namely a mosque, restaurant, health and fitness centre, coffee shops, seminar rooms, business incubation centre, sports café, BBQ area, children's play area and offices.

The sense of community service inspires people to do more for themselves and people around them. This empowerment leads to long-lasting and sustainable community improvement. The problem is that people often lack confidence in their own ability to generate a change. The solution to building this skill set and knowledge base lies within community development.

Year of Zayed

The Year of Zayed 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of the country's Founding Father. The youth at the Pakistan Association Dubai have come up with an innovative idea of "Own an Hour" programme, which targets university students. The initiative promotes the concept of paying tribute to the UAE's Founding Father by completing 100 hours in volunteer work in 2018.

A saying of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan holds my attention and makes me believe that one should put their energy in serving the people. It goes like, "No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities."

Therefore, along with campaigning for "Own a Brick", we want members of the community to own an hour for community work as well. As part of their profession, members can often generate community improvement programmes and development projects that also allow for fellow citizens to contribute to their community's development plans.

The project of Pakistan Centre will be a monument of pride for every Pakistani residing here or abroad. Provided every programme has its own challenges, we have a strong team and an even stronger community that is willing to contribute in every possible way. We, at PAD, are thankful for the Government of Dubai for giving us the opportunity to build a home away from home. I am extremely humbled by the extraordinary support of the Community Development Authority in all our projects. I urge all Pakistanis to come forward, join and own the Association and seek support for the role you wish to practice for Pakistan while living in Dubai, UAE.

- Dr. Faisel Ikram is the President of Pakistan Association Dubai.

Own an Hour: Students, mentors and PAD team.
Own an Hour: Students, mentors and PAD team.
Dr. Omar Al Muthanna, CEO Community Development Authority, at a labour camp organised by the Medical Wing.
Dr. Omar Al Muthanna, CEO Community Development Authority, at a labour camp organised by the Medical Wing.

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