Soon after his appointment Ambassador Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Alzaabi has expressed his feelings that United Arab Emirates (UAE) values its relations with Pakistan and looking at a long term roadmap for strengthening economic relations between the two countries. He actually realizes Pakistan-UAE historical relations and shared vision of their dynamic leadership provided a strong basis for tapping the real potential of their economic relations for the mutual benefit. “The most important thing is that we have the same vision, ideas as both Pakistan and the UAE are focusing on counter-terrorism and extremism, promotion of health and education”, he once revealed.
Both the countries have massive economic potential hence they “have chances for investment and they should encourage their businessmen to invest to help bolster trade between the two sides”, he further added. Due to his keen interest and efforts in April 2018 UAE Red Crescent funded “The Diabetes Center” in outskirts of Federal capital Islamabad. While addressing the participants Hamad Obaid Alzaabi said Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) and other charitable & humanitarian organizations of UAE are serving in health, education and infrastructure services programmes in those areas of Pakistan where communities lack the necessary basic services. UAE envoy said that UAE has been on the Pakistani scene since early and supported Pakistanis through carrying out projects that achieve additional gains for the vulnerable segments and enabled them to cope with their living conditions.
His interest in Pakistan can further be gazed by his visit to Iqbal Manzil (the birthplace of Allama Iqbal, the Poet of the East) in Sialkot. He paid rich tributes to Allama Iqbal. He was of the view that the teachings of Allama Iqbal are like a beacon of light to maintain tolerance, peace and stability in the society. Iqbal was one of the great men of Islam and Pakistan, who dreamt for Pakistan, where brotherhood, social and economic justice would prevail. He felt much solaced and great honour to be seated on Allama Iqbal’s personal historical chair. Soon after the establishment of new government in Pakistan he met Prime Minister Imran khan and showed his gratitude and commitment to implement more welfare, development projects with the aim to bring prosperity, progress and development in Pakistan.
He believes that both countries have massive economic potential hence they “have chances for investment and they should encourage their businessmen to invest to help bolster trade between the two sides. During one of his recent interviews he emphasised on the importance of Pakistan’s stability. He also revealed that UAE “supports Pakistan in facing the terrorism challenges and appreciates the efforts of Pakistan in the fight against this menace. Referring to his meetings to further spike the bilateral trade, the envoy said: “Although the volume of current bilateral trade is satisfactory, dedicated efforts are needed from both sides to further improve the two-way trade.” The total trade volume between the two countries is around $8.19 billion, which is not reflective of the friendly relations and potential available in the two countries.
Once asked about Expo 2020 in Dubai, he said it would be a great opportunity for Pakistan to showcase its potential and products to lure investors. UAE appreciates the contribution of overseas Pakistanis in UAE’s development. Ambassador Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Alzaabi is also very concerned about the Gwadar Port. He believes it was not a competing project rather it complements the ports of the UAE and its international shipping. The UAE “supports this project and is keen to cooperate with Pakistan in this field as it will help increase bilateral trade”, he said.
He is also convinced that were many development and social projects which were being built with the support of UAE in Gwadar city, including a water desalination project, whose foundation was laid in March 2018 and will be built with the support of the United Arab Emirates. The project will be completed in 6 to 8 months, and will provide 4.4 million gallons of water per day to the residents of Gwadar with the ability to increase its capacity to 8.8 million gallons of water per day, said the ambassador.
The year 2018 is being observed as the year of Sheikh Zayed by UAE. In this regard The UAE Embassy in Pakistan exhibited rare photos of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, former Emirati president and ruler of Abu Dhabi in Islamabad. The exhibition, titled “Zayed in the hearts of Pakistanis,” included photos taken during his official and private visits to Pakistan.
The embassy tweeted that the images tell the story of Sheikh Zayed’s love and association with Pakistan. It all happened due to the efforts of the UAE ambassador in Pakistan. Hamad Obaid Alzaabi is fully convinced that over the four and half decades the wise leadership of UAE assured all constituents to be future makers both during the era of the founding father Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the persistence of this enormous development movement in the era of His Highness Shheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
It is worth mentioning that according to UN World Happiness Report 2017, the UAE came First in the Arab world for the third consecutive year and ranked 21st as the happiest globally, advancing eight ranks, the UAE would rank 12th globally if only UAE nationals were taken into account, and this is what UAE aims for Pakistan and its people according to the Ambassador Hamad Obaid Alzaabi. H.E. Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi while attending Ramadan Football championship arranged by UAE embassy said that he is pleased to see this remarkable presence of the Arab Ambassadors, Diplomats their families and Pakistani communities and the great interaction that the tournament witnessed during the matches. The Ambassador expressed his thanks and gratitude to the “forward” factory in Sialkot for supplying the footballs played in this tournament.
The “forward” factory is manufacturer of the footballs that will be played the next World Cup in Russia 2018. Recently Prime Minister Imran Khan visited UAE and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed welcomed the PM. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Mr Khan discussed the strengthening of ties and investments, and exchanged views on regional and international developments of mutual concern. Apart from trade and economic relations, Pakistan UAE military ties are time tested. The Pakistani military has a historic role in helping to train and equip the UAE military, such as training fighter pilots of the UAE air force and other defence related equipment and technology acquisitions.
Apart from exchange of delegates at official and unofficial level, military conducts joint exercises to strengthen their capabilities. The UAE has always been among the first countries to deliver humanitarian relief and assistance to Pakistan in times of need and Ambassador Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Alzaabi is fully committed with this particular duty and realises its importance.
Published in Melange Intl. Magazine in November 2018.