Traditional food, cultural performances: How expat community is celebrating Pakistan Day in Dubai

The two-day family festival, which is running until March 19, will also feature cooking competitions and comedy shows


Nasreen Abdulla

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KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

Published: Sat 18 Mar 2023, 9:04 PM

Last updated: Sat 18 Mar 2023, 9:44 PM

With the aroma of traditional Pakistani street food and the beats of a dholwalla (drummer), it was a colourful evening of festivities and fun for hundreds of families at the Pakistan Association in Dubai (PAD).

The two-day festival, organised to celebrate Pakistan Day on March 23, will run on March 18 and 19 between 4pm and 11pm, bringing together homepreneurs, small businesses and cultural performers.

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

Restaurant stalls lined up on either side of the walkway through the PAD premises tried to recreate the street food vibe.

Pakistanis turned up in large numbers to celebrate the occasion with community spirit and fervour. While for some it was a chance to enjoy their favourite dishes and spend time with their extended family, for others it was the perfect occasion to get some Eid shopping done.

Amina S. attended the fair with her family and cousins. “We try and come for this event every year,” she said. “It is a great time for my cousins and me to hang out together and meet our friends. We love street food. So far we have tried gol gappe, kebabs and some biryani. It was all delicious. Maybe we will have some kulfi after a while.”

Bringing together nationalities

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

For Indian national Khatheeja, who sells homemade pickles, curry powders and readymade mixes, exhibiting at the Pakistan Day festivities has become a part of her yearly calendar. “I have done it every year since starting the business,” she said.

“This year I thought I won’t do it because it is so close to Ramadan, but the organizers called me and urged me to come. So here I am. I think this is one of the great things about being in a city like Dubai. There are so many nationalities that come together and celebrate their special days.”

The festive weekend also showcases cultural programmes, art and cooking competitions, comedy shows and more to represent the heritage of Pakistan.

For husband-and-wife duo Fiza and Jassim, it was the first time exhibiting at the Pakistani Day event. Fiza, an accountant by profession, quit her job to start a business selling traditional Pakistani clothes. “We specialise in selling clothes with Ajrak-themed block prints that are the traditional wear of those living in the Sindh province,” said Fiza. “Today, we have had a lot of people coming in doing their Eid shopping. The jackets worn by men over their kurtas and the women’s salwar khameez sets are especially popular.”

Inaugural performance by Dubai Police band

KT photo/Neeraj Murali
KT photo/Neeraj Murali

The event was inaugurated with a performance by the Dubai Police band with Consul General of Pakistan Hassan Afzal Khan as the chief guest. This was followed by colourful cultural performances inside the auditorium where calls of Pakistan Zindabad filled the air.

In addition to the performances, there were live calligraphy and painting stalls, kids workshops, bouncy castles and a sports wall of fame that exhibited details about Pakistani’s most famous athletes.

A large group of cricket enthusiasts gathered around the screen that was showing the live finals of the Pakistan Super League where Lahore Qalandars took on Multan Sultans.


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