On Dec 14th, 2021, Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) organized an event to commemorate UAE’s Golden Jubilee and fifty years of the historic Pakistan-UAE friendship. The evening at Pakistan Auditorium was graced by esteemed guests with the likes of the Ambassador of Pakistan, H.E. Afzaal Mahmood and CEO Community Development Authority, H.E. Dr Omar Al Muthanna. Around 200 guests attended the event which included senior dignitaries, government officials, delegates from foreign countries and distinguished members of the Emirati and Pakistani community.
The core highlight of Tuesday’s flagship event was the celebration of the UAE’s remarkable achievements spanning the last five decades of social cohesion, diversity and empowerment. It was an honor to also celebrate the deeply valued bilateral relations shared between Pakistan and the UAE which dates to 1971 and has only continued to flourish in the last five decades. PAD took the opportunity to bring our communities together and reflect on the ways Pakistani expatriates have contributed to the UAE’s success as well as how this diverse country has supported the growth of our community who found a welcoming second home in the UAE.
President PAD, Dr Faisel Ikram welcomed the esteemed guests while shedding light on the golden values that make UAE one of the most tolerant and inclusive countries in the world. ”Tolerance, social cohesion and inclusivity are the values that form the fabric of the society we live in here. It is a unique model where over 200 nationalities blend together and form a global village. Time has proven that UAE, and particularly Dubai is one of the best cities in the world to live in today and we feel proud to be a part of it,” said Dr Ikram in his welcome address.
He went on to reiterate PAD’s slogan ‘Together We Rise’ as a testament to the heights we can achieve when we join hands for a shared vision. “On behalf of the community, I assure that we will continue playing our role and will prove that our relationship is deeply rooted far before the independence of the UAE. It will certainly continue to strengthen in the years to come. Long live Pakistan and the UAE,” said President PAD.
Distinguished members of the Pakistani and Emirati community joined us for insightful panel discussions about their valuable contributions to the country’s success story over the last fifty years. The first senior panel was moderated by Mr Abdul Karim Hanif who is a regular volunteer at PAD and is also a seasoned radio presenter and multimedia journalist. The panel was joined by Mr Shahreyar Nawabi (Senior Vice President, Compliance and Privacy – Emirates Airlines), Mr Amjad Ali Khan (Cofounder and Managing Partner – Afridi and Angell), Dr Laila Yahya Al Hubaishi (Senior Ob/Gyn Physician and Consultant – Latifa Women & Children’s Hospital) and Ms Shahida Salam (Founder – Pristine Private School).
Mr Shahreyar Nawabi who is Senior VP, Compliance and Privacy at Emirates Airlines discussed the foundations of Pakistan and UAE’s relationship from an Emirati perspective. He talked about the longstanding links between the two countries from Pakistan’s role in the formation of the UAE’s Air Force to the establishment of its world-class airline. “Although today UAE is a world leader in aviation, at the time in the 1980s when Emirates was being formed, Pakistan played a major support. Not only did PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) lease two aircrafts, but also provided pilots and staff training to Emirates in 1984,” said Mr Nawabi.
He also marked the Expo 2020 as proof of the UAE’s resolve to create a peaceful and tolerant society for people from all walks of life. “For people from all citizenships, religions, cultures to come and work together to create something beautiful, especially at a time when there is so much intolerance and division in the world, is truly fantastic. The Expo is the perfect example of that and is a testament to the leadership of this great country,” said Mr Shahreyar Nawabi, Senior VP – Compliance and Privacy, Emirates Airlines.
Mr Amjad Ali Khan who is Cofounder and Managing Partner at law firm Afridi and Angell also joined the discussion to share his story of witnessing the UAE’s journey. “Back in the day when I was in my law firm in New York City, 95% of people did not know where Dubai was. Now recently when I was in Alaska, I was delighted to hear my cab driver expressing his excitement when he heard about Dubai and said he wanted to visit one day. You see the drastic change from 1982 when people did not know where Dubai was to now where people all the way in Alaska know where Dubai is – it really is phenomenal,” said Mr Amjad Ali Khan who is also an Advisor Board Member at PAD and President of the Pakistan Professionals Forum.
He also reminisced the mutual affection that the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan shared with Pakistanis and fondly recalled the late founder’s frequent visits to Pakistan and his many humanitarian projects for the people of Pakistan. Mr Amjad also thanked the Community Development Authority as our project of Pakistan Medical Centre would not have been built without their support, owing PAD’s successful journey to the kind partnership of the local UAE authorities.
Dr Laila Yahya Al Hubaishi who is a Senior Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Latifa Women & Children’s Hospital, shared her account of how the UAE has rapidly progressed in the field of education after herself having returned from Germany in 2017 where she was pursuing her higher education in medicine. Dr Laila talked about being trained by Pakistani medical professionals and how together with diverse skillsets, we can empower many more women in the UAE to advance in science and medicine.
Ms Shahida Salam is the founder of Pristine Private School in Dubai which happens to be the only British Curriculum school in the Emirates established by Pakistani expatriates. She talked about building an environment to nourish the growth of children who accept diversity and become compassionate and tolerant leaders of tomorrow. Ms Shahida thanked the UAE authorities for supporting the education sector and believing in their mission. The school which started off in a small villa is now a well-established institute in Al Nahda which provides a UK curriculum to students across 47 nationalities from the Foundation stage to Year 13. “The future with the UAE leadership is unimaginable and it looks incredibly bright for expatriates, nationals and our future generations to come,” said Ms Shahida Salam.
We were also pleased to welcome CEO Community Development Authority, Dr Omar Al Muthanna who expressed his appreciation on the momentous occasion, “It is my pleasure to address you all on this special occasion being held to mark not only the UAE National Day Celebrations but also to commemorate the great bilateral relations between Pakistan and the UAE. I am honored and thankful to be here and I appreciate you for inviting me to be a part of this great occasion,” said Dr Omar Al Muthanna. He also remarked that PAD is the living proof of the close ties between both nations. “The great precedent that PAD has set in building this institution is a marvelous example that we wish to replicate in other communities too,” said CEO Community Development Authority.
The second panel was led by Mr Omar Hayat who is Director at Gadlang Management Consultancy and a Learning and Development Coach and also volunteers his time at PAD. This youth panel discussion included Mr Abdulla Ziad Galadari (Senior Partner – Galadari Advocates & Legal Consultants), Ms Amal Ahmad (Person of Determination, Inclusivity – Dubai Airports), Mr Waheed Abdul Hameed (Managing Director – Ravi Restaurants) and Ms Samia Hassan (Millennial Mentor Coach & Founder – UnwindTheGrind Dubai).
Mr Abdulla Ziad who is a lawyer by profession, spoke about growing up around the Pakistani community in the UAE and how having Pakistani friends made for a diverse childhood experience – owing it to the product of globalization. “I am amazed at the incredible role that Pakistanis have played in the early days. As a lawyer, I have found my Pakistani peers to be extremely hard working and dedicated to their work,” remarked Mr Ziad, Senior Partner at Galadari Advocates & Legal Consultants.
Ms Amal Ahmad who is a person of determination talked about how she recovered through a harrowing experience and found Pakistani doctors amongst those who supported her rehabilitation and recovery. She now works for Inclusivity at Dubai Airports.
Ms Samia Hasan, a Millennial Mentor Coach who also set up her business, joined the panel to share her experience as a Pakistani female entrepreneur. “I have been in the UAE for 25 years and grew up in a modest background in Sharjah. I was a girl with big dreams and this land of opportunities helped me grow and bring my dreams to realization today,” said Ms Hasan who is the founder of UnwindTheGrind Dubai, a millennial career development platform. Ms Samia mentors aspiring entrepreneurs and believes that a dynamic city like Dubai can empower many more women like her to achieve the impossible against all odds.
Mr Waheed Abdul Hameed who is MD at the famous Ravi Restaurants recalled how his family started their journey in the UAE with a small humble set-up and went on to establish many branches in the country, with one notably functioning at the Expo 2020.
We were also honored to host Ambassador of Pakistan, His Excellency Afzaal Mahmood who expressed his pleasure upon joining the celebratory evening. “My warmest greetings and congratulations to both nations for maintaining exemplary fraternal ties in an excellent manner for the wellbeing of our people and this region. We are glad to have partners in peace and stability and are determined to continue doing so,” said the Ambassador of Pakistan to the UAE.
The event also came alive with two Arabic and Pakistani cultural performances to end the evening.