Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) share a wonderful history of bilateral ties, a friendship that has been mutually beneficial for decades now. With every passing day, the two countries have built a solid partnership, which is strategically profound and revolves around all economic, social and political dimensions.
The roots of these ties were laid by the founder of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who envisaged Pakistan to be a long-term ally. This relationship was further patronized by the President of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. Today, the UAE celebrates its 42nd National Day and all of Pakistan wishes the country well.
This friendship began when a massive number of Pakistanis started migrating to the UAE in the late 70s in search of better financial opportunities. Since then, the Arab state has become home to as many as 1.4 million Pakistani expatriates. This statistic compelled leaders from both countries to get together and form a strategic partnership that could facilitate growth and development in the region. The UAE has now become a major contributor to the Pakistani economy. It is one the biggest investors in the region only behind the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The current bilateral trade between the two countries stands at US$7.6 billion, while 27 companies from the UAE have established their operations in Pakistan, working in various sectors including telecommunications and aviation. Major names from the UAE also formed strategic alliances as partners in joint ventures with Pakistani companies. These ventures are valued at US$21 billion – a figure that reiterates the importance of the UAE to Pakistan.
Expatriates in the UAE send remittances of over US$1 billion every year. Their presence has also been beneficial for the Gulf nation, with Pakistani businessmen investing over 8.7 billion Dirhams in the real estate sector. There are now more than 6,000 fully operational Pakistani companies in the UAE, who are greatly contributing to its booming economy.
Multinational national companies from the UAE have invested heavily in Pakistan, giving way to the expansion of business and trade in the country. Investors in various sectors have established themselves here or have shook hands in joint ventures with Pakistani companies. Etisalat, the Emirates Telecommunication Network, owns 26% shares of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), which is the state’s telecom authority. Etisalat also owns Ufone, which is one of the largest mobile service providers of Pakistan. The progress of Ufone is epitome of how investment from the UAE has helped Pakistani companies become better service providers. Ufone today boasts a massive network with world class communication services that are second to none. These acquisitions have not only been beneficial for the companies but have also lead to improved service standard in Pakistan. Companies from UAE have helped in raising the bar and providing impetus for other local companies to follow suit and deliver high quality products and services.
Some of the other major companies from the UAE that have established themselves in Pakistan include Emirates Airlines, Warid, Enoch, IPIC, Dana Gas, Al Ghurair, Emaar, DP World, Abraaj Capital, Thani, Dnata, Atharihra, Julfar and Al Nasser Holdings among others.
The UAE has also been a tremendous partner of Pakistan on the development front. In 2011, the President of the UAE, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan gave the green light to initiate a project to assist Pakistan. Valued at a total cost of US$100 million, the project aimed to start the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the infrastructure that suffered unimaginable destruction due to floods and natural calamities. The regions of focus were primarily Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Bajaur and South Waziristan districts of the tribal belt. The UAE set out its objective to aid Pakistan in providing a better life to its people. Projects were initiated as the welfare and betterment of the Pakistani people remained the top priority. The focus was education, public health, roads, bridges and supply of water treatment plants and networks. In Swat, the UAE funded the construction of two bridges, 52 schools and 7 hospitals. Also, 64 water supply schemes were initiated to make it easily available in abundance.
Leadership in Pakistan has changed over the years but what has always remained a constant is the undying relationship the country has enjoyed with the UAE. On this wonderful occasion of their 42nd National Day celebrations, Pakistan wishes and prays for more success for the UAE and many more years of friendship and loyalty in the future. By Emad Zafar