Bilateral Collaborations between UAE & Pakistan: Boost positive impact, humanitarian aid and personal growth

Baaghi TV has compiled a list of UAE’s positive impacts in Pakistan since the last decade.

How important is it to have positive international relations between states, especially Muslim economies? Essentially, bilateral relations are needed for the growth and progress of any nation. They can be improved through diplomatic partnerships of nations benefitting from each other. For example: while one may be economically stronger, the other may provide stability in the form of natural resources.

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This is where diplomacy seeps in to reach negotiation of partnerships between two parties. As described by the English Diplomat Sir Harold Nicholson, “Diplomacy is … an essential element in any reasonable relation between man and man and between nation and nation”. Along these lines is one such partnership between Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) initiated in lieu of good diplomatic ties. The two states have initiated thirty-seven collaborations between them, in the last decade alone, ranging from interests in education, development, health and women empowerment respectively.

These include the following (in Chronological order):

1- UAE, Pakistan initiate Assistance Program (2011)

This program, known as the UAE PAP was launched in January 2011 on orders of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed AL Nahyan and aims to rehabilitate people in the Northern regions of Pakistan. It especially focused on the people of Swat who had been the most affected by the floods in 2010.

The program was announced in an event in Islamabad, and was attended by the officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UAE. While speaking at event, WHO Team Leader-Polio Dr. Elias Durry, said that UAE PAP will help to eradicate Polio from “difficult-to-access areas”.

2- Mega project initiated in collaboration of UAE & Pakistan (2011)

This project focused on bringing the Mubarak Centre project in Lahore back on track after having been scrapped in 2009. This project involved The Abu Dhabi Group willing to invest almost $1.2bn in the project.

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According to media reports at the time, the project had been reaffirmed with “modifications”. This project was to be carried out under 70/30 partnership between the UAE investment company and the Punjab government and was aimed at constructing the tallest building that would feature a shopping mall, apartments, hotel(s) and a parking area.

3- UAE fund allocated to support educational projects in Pakistan (2013)

The next project came in 2013 that focused on supporting educational institutions across Pakistan.  The estimated worth of the project was quoted as US$41.5 million (Dh152m) and aimed to facilitate 60 institutions. In the first phase, it aimed to sponsor 53 projects and aid nearly 30,000 students.

Consequently, this first phase saw 43 primary and secondary schools, and 10 technical colleges being built in Pakistan under the UAE PAP. In the second phase, projects were funded in the KP, South Waziristan and Bajaur regions where students had lost their schools.

4- UAE offers grant worth millions to fund development projects in Pakistan (2013)

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), on behalf of the UAE government, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan. In lieu of which, Pakistan was given a grant of US$100 million (Dh367.3 million) for development projects in the region.

The purpose of this grant was to fund three developmental projects in particular, namely: Education, Health and Transport. Acting Director General of ADFD, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi had said, “The UAE is interested in being an effective partner in effective development projects, in particular in infrastructure sector which is a pillar of economic and social development and the solid foundation of growth and prosperity of societies.”

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As reported at the time, the grant was aimed at connecting North Waziristan to South Waziristan by means of construction of the Makeen-Miranshah Road and nearly 10 bridges approximately 50 to 19 meters.

Additionally, it was believed that the agreement with ADFD would boost UAE’s humanitarian efforts in Pakistan.

5- UAE launches development projects in Pakistan (2013)

In 2013, UAE launched more developmental projects in Pakistan, specifically in the Rahim Yar Khan region. These focused on education and health and were launched under the direction from the President of UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

At the time, Pakistan’s Chief Minister for Punjab had lauded the move by UAE and said that the country was ‘indebted’ to them. He had added that the initiative resonated with the “depth of fraternal bonds and cooperation between the two countries”.

6- UAE sought to invest in Pakistan’s Agriculture sector (2015)

The next project came in 2015 and focused on boosting agriculture. Under the leadership of the UAE’s Sheikh, the country had become a hub of development and modernization setting a firm example of progress for not only Muslim nations but others as well. Maintaining this stance, UAE sought to fund the agriculture sector in Pakistan considering their past relations bound in culture, politics, religion and trade.

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Moreover, according to the figures provided by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Board of Investment (BOI) at the time, the UAE was declared the biggest investor to Pakistan. It was stated that UAE’s “collective investment in the country has reached to $US 21 billion in 2012-2013. In the last decade, UAE merged as the biggest investor in Pakistan”.

7- Pakistanis declared third largest investors in Dubai real estate (2016)

Pakistanis were rated as the third largest non-Arab investor group in Dubai’s real estate for the year 2015. It was estimated that AED 8 billion had been invested by Pakistani citizens out of a total of AED 74 billion, while the value of the property market had reportedly increased by 6.7 percent in 2015.

As reported by the Arab Post, “According to the Financial Year 2015 – 2016, the total Pakistani expatriates’ remittances from Dubai to Pakistan amounted to $1.67 billion with a growth by 39.7 percent of total Pakistani remittance transfers to Dubai”.

8- Significant increase in bilateral trade between UAE, Pakistan (2017)

According to reports at the time, bilateral trade between Pakistan and UAE was at an all time high with trade value estimated at $8.3 billion with a record increase of 9.4 percent in the fiscal year 2016-17.

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Dr. Nasir Khan, Commercial Counseller, Consulate General of Pakistan at the time said, “imports from UAE to Pakistan increased last year from $6.62 billion to $7.23 billion whereas exports from Pakistan to UAE has decreased about 1.83 per cent from $1.08 billion to $1.06 billion.”

He added that the 10th exhibition would provide more opportunities as it would allow opportunities to foreign exhibitors to showcase their products.

9- UAE offered $200 million aid to Pakistan (2018)

The UAE PAP signed a US$200 million cooperation agreement for the execution of the 3rd phase of the assistance program. Forty projects were to be included in this third phase while continuing to provide ‘humanitarian assistance’ to Pakistan and lend support in development initiative for a better future. The UAE reportedly aimed to offer “sustainability and continuous benefits” to Pakistan in the long run.

UAE’s Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi said, “Pakistan and the UAE share the same principles of tolerance and inclusiveness as being the main guarantees for peace and stability in the region.”

Other Collaborations: 

10- Pakistani declared among top 10 investors in Dubai’s property sector (2018)

11- Pakistan, UAE explore opportunities to expand defense production (2019)

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12- Pakistan & UAE agree to expand their Naval Collaboration (2019)

13- UAE to invest billions in Pakistan’s oil sector (2019)

14- UAE announced $6.2 billion support package for Pakistan (2019)

15- Pakistan to boost space program in collaboration with UAE (2019)

16- Pakistan, UAE relations to enter new phase of collaboration (2019)

17- UAE announced $3billion lifeline to Pakistan (2019)

18- Pakistan, UAE agree to boost bilateral ties (2020)

19- Pakistan & UAE relations take next step (2020)

20- PM  Pakistan inaugurated Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road in Pakistan (2020)

21- Discussion of facilitating Pakistani citizens in attaining business visas (2020)

22- UAE extends $200 million aid to Pakistan in lieu of economic projects (2020)

23- UAE sent medical, food aid to Pakistan to fight covid-19 (2020)

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24- Pakistan received second batch of UAE aid to fight the contagion (2020)

25- UAE delegation met with federal minister of Pakistan, expressed interest in investing (2020)

26- UAE pledge to boost Pakistan’s liquidity, reserves (2020)

27- Pakistan Expo 2020 in Dubai gets $14 million funding from UAE (2020)

28-  US$60 million supplementary funding to support the polio eradication programme in Pakistan (2020)

29- UAE shows interest for Investing in Development Projects of Pakistan (2020)

30- Pakistan, UAE agree to strengthen bilateral ties (2020)

31- Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met UAE counterpart in Dubai (2020)

32- Ambassador Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Alzaabi thanked Islamabad for helping in food security during pandemic (2020)

33- UAE provided emergency help to 100,000 families in Pakistan (2020)

34- UAE, Pakistan to strengthen cooperation on jobs in post-Covid era (2020)

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Most Recent Collaborations include:

35- Pakistan and UAE in discussion with regards to energy projects (2021)

Hamad Obaid Alzaabi, UAE Ambassador met with Pakistan’s Energy Minister, Omar Ayub Khan and discussed bilateral ties and collaboration in the energy sector.

According to latest reports, Pakistan is focusing on energy projects under its renewable energy policy to utilize its local energy resources as well as to revive activities in the oil and gas sector, respectively. This move will not only allow foreign investment opportunities but also boost economic growth across Pakistan.

36- UAE lends support to women led business in Pakistan (2021)

With the spread of the global pandemic, COVID-19, many businesses shifted from physical office units to more online spaces which included Pakistani businesses as well. In this regard, Karachi-based EdTech Dot & Line claimed that it had received investment from UAE’s Falcon Network.

“The challenge was to train the teachers how to engage the students via the screen,” co-founder Lina Ahmed said at the time. She added, “30% of our students currently are international, usually the children from Pakistani expats, mainly working in the Middle East”.

37- Progress marked for on-going petroleum projects in collaboration between Pakistan, UAE (2021)

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