Heralding A Promising Climate Of Growth


Hassan Afzal Khan, Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai and the Northern Emirates
Hassan Afzal Khan, Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai and the Northern Emirates

With newer avenues for trade and business opening up, the CG feels optimistic about how Pakistan continues to reach out to newer horizons and better opportunities

By Muhammad Ali Bandial

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Published: Thu 23 Mar 2023, 10:50 AM

The UAE has always been a home away from home for the Pakistan expat community for decades. This is based on the warm and long-lasting ties that both nations have enjoyed and strengthened over the years. For Hassan Afzal Khan, the Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, building on these bonds and increasing the people-to-people contacts has always been of top priority.

Participation in regional fairs

Khan said that the businessmen from Pakistan, because of the closeness, participate in all the fairs and conferences that take place throughout the year. He said: “Mostly in defence exhibitions, where we have a large presence and then the other exhibitions where we have our strengths, which is textile, food and confectionaries.” Coming to the government side, which falls under the patronage of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Khan added that other exhibitions had also been shortlisted which would support Pakistani products. He listed Gulfood, Automechanika and a few others as well. “Looking at the market, in addition to the six exhibitions we participate in every year, we have identified three other areas where we will be participating this yearThese include Middle East Energy, which is for the energy and power sector, then Arabian Travel Market and Big Five which is for construction,” he added. The Consul-General said that there are around 97 companies from Pakistan that participated in the recently conlcuded Gulfood, which is a positive sign.

Promoting specific sectors

“Textile and food sector are our strengths in exports and also constitute a major portion of total exports of Pakistan. Now we are diversifying our product base,” said Khan. He also identified the emergence of IT as another area where Pakistan had recently started showing great promise. “We have strength in the IT sector and we believe that all the latest things like the app development, AI and e-commerce hold great potential for Pakistan and we are looking to explore more in these areas,” he said.

Response from UAE Trade bodies

On the topic of assistance and response from the UAE chambers, the Consul-General said that the response has always been very positive and proactive. “We have a very close connection with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and of course, the UAE Chamber of Commerce. We remain in close touch with them for these exhibitions, as well as for a number of conferences that are planned throughout the year. And then we also work with them where we have some specific area specific conferences and partnerships.”

Khan also pointed out that Pakistan was working on finalising the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the UAE, which would further broaden the areas of cooperation between the two countries.

Meeting the needs of the community

On the question of the performance of the Consulate, Khan said: “I’m quite satisfied I would say. But of course, we have to improve it a lot. Paksani community is growing immensely. We are almost touching two million expats in the UAE, which is a huge number. Add to that those that are transit travelers and it becomes quite a lot at times. So, providing counselor services with a limited staff and within the space becomes a challenge, but I believe we are moving in the right direction.” He said that Government of Pakistan had recently launched the online application for the ‘Power of Attorney’, which previously required people to physically come to the Consulate. Now they can do it online from the comfort of their homes. Another initiative was making the issuance of the passport a one-window operation, thereby significantly decreasing the time. “So, let me just explain it a little bit. Previously, we had a system where one person had to come to one window for fingerprints and eye scanning, then the other one for photograph and then third one for filling out the form and then fourth one for the authorisation. So now, we have merged all systems in one window. And so now, all the seven windows that we have will be utilised so that the applicant will be sitting on one seat. Everything will be done in one go.”

Message on Pakistan Resolution Day

The Consul-General said: “I would like to congratulate all the Pakistanis who are in the UAE as I’ve mentioned that the number is increasing, which is our strength. We have to remember the vision of our forefathers. That is, we have to live with this country, follow the rules and principles and of course work for the betterment of this society while doing our jobs and affairs to the best of our abilities and in a manner which sheds positive light on our country. This is a day of immense happiness for us and let’s hope and let’s join our hands together to continue working for the betterment of our country, which the overseas Pakistanis are already doing through sending remittances back. I will take this opportunity to also request all Pakistanis to use the legal banking channels for sending remittances back to Pakistan because this is now the most effective way for balancing our import export. I wish everyone a Happy Pakistan Resolution Day. Pakistan Zindabad!”

— ali@khaleejtimes.com

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