ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salim Al-Zaabi on Sunday said the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE-PAP) has successfully completed 165 projects in various sectors, including economic, humanities, social, health, education and infrastructure in Pakistan.
In an interview on Pakistan’s 75th Independence Day that appeared on the UAE media, the ambassador, who has achieved remarkable success in improving further all-round ties between the two countries, said the UAE embassy, in cooperation with the UAE charity and humanitarian organisations, had worked to implement humanitarian and social welfare projects.
The UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE-PAP) was launched to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan and support their development initiatives for a better future. Its mission is to execute development aid projects that offer sustainability and continuous benefits to the Pakistani people in the long run, he added.
The ambassador recalled that as of 2021, more than 30,000 Pakistani students had been enrolled in schools built by the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme with an estimated investment value of $200 million. This programme is also playing a vital role in eradicating polio in Pakistan in coordination with the WHO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
He said the UAE’s polio campaign has provided more than 86 million vaccines to Pakistani children, adding that many other organisations, such as the Khalifa bin Zayed Humanitarian Foundation, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charitable and Humanitarian Establishment, and the UAE Red Crescent, have been providing assistance in several areas of Pakistan.
He said the UAE supported Pakistan’s efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic by supplying medical aid and vaccines, adding that the UAE embassy has initiated various cultural programmes, such as marathons, art exhibitions, Covid-19 awareness drives, and seminars.
To a question, he said that based on deep-rooted historical and cultural ties, the UAE and Pakistan enjoy a unique friendship that has withstood the test of time. Over the years, our cooperation has expanded to encompass all key fields, he added.
“In the economic field in particular, our two countries have strengthened bilateral coordination in the recent years. The UAE has played a vital role in ensuring the economic and financial stability in Pakistan through assistance in critical times. In 2019, the UAE released $2 billion to support the country’s financial and monetary policies and enhance liquidity and foreign reserves,” he said.
The UAE ambassador said both the countries announced a strategic economic partnership by establishing an Investment Fund with $1 billion to invest in vital sectors in Pakistan. In the political and diplomatic fields, the UAE has also worked to bolster global security and stability alongside its international partners, including Pakistan. “Since my appointment as Head of Mission in 2017, I have strived to strengthen bilateral relations in the political, economic, and social arenas.”
He said this has come against the backdrop of the exchange of visits by our countries’ leadership at the highest levels. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, visited Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistani leadership, including Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the UAE. “Our countries are important partners in the region and I believe these visits contribute to further bolstering our relations,” he said.
To another question, the envoy said despite the challenges posed by the pandemic in the global tourism sector, Pakistan’s cultural diversity and landscape have attracted many Emiratis. Notably, Emirati mountaineer Saeed Khamis Al- Memari successfully scaled K2, the highest peak in Pakistan, thereby becoming the first Arab to reach the unprecedented achievement. “We are confident that the adventure tourism sector in Pakistan will continue to attract travellers seeking to explore the country’s numerous offerings.”
To another question about the economic ties of the two countries, Ambassador Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi said the response pertaining to the investment in Pakistan by the UAE investors has been very constructive, as many investment and trade deals were inked during the Dubai Expo 2020. “Many companies are now in the process of entering the Pakistani market to expand economic cooperation in projects covering various sectors,” he added.
The ambassador said the UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East with $8 billion in trade in 2021, adding that the country is also a major source of investments and remittances. The UAE is planning to invest $1 billion in Pakistan’s gas, renewable energy, infrastructure, healthcare, biotechnology, agriculture, logistics, digital communications, e-commerce, and financial services, he said, adding that this is in addition to existing UAE’s investments in the fields of banking, telecommunications, agriculture, and property development.
Expressing his sentiments about the auspicious day, he said: “First, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the government and people of Pakistan on 75th independence anniversary of their country. I am pleased to share the celebration, as our two countries are also commemorating the Golden Jubilee of our relations. I believe that my second home, Pakistan, with its rich cultural history, geographic diversity, and significant economic potential, will continue its journey towards peace and development. I am also confident that under the leadership of both the countries, the bilateral relations will continue to flourish and grow to new horizons.”