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Pakistan-UAE relationship – on the path of economic upliftment

United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to be major investor and a key trading partner of Pakistan. It also played a key role in supporting Pakistan’s economy after the loss of its eastern wing. The latest investment pledge by UAE has come at a time when the Government of Pakistan is trying to fast-track economic growth. This boost has been facilitated by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, during his recent visit to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi.

UAE continues to make substantial investments in Pakistan helping shape the country’s vibrant economy. Among the seven GCC countries, the UAE is the largest investor in Pakistan with several key Emirati companies continuing to invest here.This was stated by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bank Alfalah Limited. UAE’s announcement to enhance its investments in Pakistan will help attract global FDI and accelerate economic growth in the country.

UAE continues to explore ways of strengthening its investment and business relations with Pakistan, evident from around US$6 billion in the country. Pakistan is UAE’s strategic partner and its government and workers have participated in the development of UAE and its institutions. UAE has been investing in Pakistan during good and bad times. Among the seven GCC countries, UAE is the biggest investor in Pakistan. From 2004 to 2010, its public and private sector investments totaled US$3.74 billion. Several key companies such as Emirates National Oil Company, International Petroleum Investment Company, Etisalat, Al Ghurair, Abraaj Capital, Dana Gas, Emirates Investment Group, Emaar, DP World, Julfar, Arabian Packaging Company and others have invested in Pakistan.

Relationship with Abu Dhabi were established in 1971, Pakistan was the first country to extend recognition and Pakistan and the UAE enjoy extremely close and fraternal relations, founded on deep-rooted cultural affinities, shared faith and traditions, as also geographic proximity and identity of interests. UAE has been a major donor of economic assistance to Pakistan. UAE has been appreciative of Pakistan’s contribution to the evolution of key institutions in the Emirates such as armed forces, police, health and education, and has reciprocated in the same friendly manner to the full satisfaction of Pakistan.

The UAE has emerged as one of Pakistan’s major economic and trading partners. A large number of Pakistani expatriates, exceeding one million are employed in UAE. The Pakistani expatriates in UAE have contributed in a significant manner to promotion of bilateral understanding and to the economy of Pakistan through their home remittances.

In 2011, the UAE Pakistan Assistance Program (UAE-PAP) was launched in order to help and provide assistance to Pakistan and mitigate the impact of floods by redeveloping infrastructure.The program takes into account the harsh geography and the rough weather conditions of the region while focusing on four main areas of social redevelopment: health, education, water and infrastructure. The program has taken some vital steps to ease the pain and suffering that the people of Swat have become accustomed to as it provided for the construction and rehabilitation of two bridges, 52 schools and 7 hospitals, as well as the implementation of 64 water supply schemes.

UAE’s founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, made it his country’s policy to assist Pakistan’s economy by hiring Pakistani labor in addition to giving direct aid. Between 1971 and 2015, UAE was the destination country for 32.9% of Pakistani migrant workers. As of 2016, according to World Bank data, the 1.2 million strong Pakistani diaspora in the UAE sends remittances worth $4.36 billion annually to Pakistan.

 

Moreover, the UAE has periodically offered balance-of-payments support in addition to investment in specific projects to help Pakistan get through times of economic difficulty, such as the years immediately after Pakistan’s loss of Bangladesh and at other interludes of political turmoil. Bilateral aid, which started with the setting up of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) in 1974, over the years has made UAE the second largest Arab donor to Pakistan while Pakistan has been the largest ADFD aid recipient in Asia.

Still, the UAE’s affection for Pakistan’s people cannot alter two harsh facts that make India more important for most countries than Pakistan. First of these is the difference of size between the two South Asian neighbors. Compared to $60 billion in bilateral trade between the UAE and India, its volume of trade with Pakistan stood at only $7 billion in 2015. Although, the UAE is the fourth major foreign investor in Pakistan, the cumulative value of those investments stands at $20 billion, much less than the UAE’s investment relationship with India.

Pakistan – A third largest real estate investor

Pakistan has emerged as the third largest real estate investor in Dubai, reveals Dubai Land Department (DLD), citing data spanning 18 months — from January 2016 to June 2017.

According to the details, shared by DLD on social media, Pakistani nationals have made 5,398 real estate transactions pumping about AED7 billion in Dubai’s real estate sector.According to the DLD report, 217 nationalities have invested a total of AED151 billion in Dubai’s real estate market. DLD Director General Sultan Butti bin Mejren said that these figures showed the confidence of the investors around the globe and the significant efforts made by the government of Dubai to establish a healthy investment climate.

Infinite bonds

Around 1.4 million Pakistani expatriates are working in UAE .They sent $ 2.45 billion being the highest remittances in the current fiscal year which contributed significantly in the macro-economy of Pakistan.

Investments

Pakistan offers vast opportunities for foreign direct investments and joint ventures in infrastructure development; electricity generation, water desalination, agricultural based industries, insurance and real estate. Prospects of initiating joint ventures in aluminum products, agriculture (horticulture, farming, dairy farming and livestock, financial sector, housing prefabricated houses and affordable low income houses are bright. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can also be tapped.

UAE project to assist Pakistan

Upon the directives of H. H. Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan the President of UAE, the UAE project to assist Pakistan was launched in January 2011 at a total cost of US$100 million for the reconstruction of infrastructure damaged by devastating floods and natural calamities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Bajaur and South Waziristan districts of the tribal belt to provide better life to the people by creating jobs. The project is to focus on four major sectors: education, public health, roads, bridges and supply of water treatment plants and networks.

Humanitarian

Under the directives of HH the President of UAE, a joint relief team was recently formed by representatives of UAE Armed Forces, Khalifa Bin Zayed Humanitarian Foundation, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, the Red Crescent and Sharjah Charity Society for providing humanitarian assistance to the flood affected people in Sindh. The team which arrived in Karachi in mid September, 2011 was rigorously engaged in providing shelters and foodstuff to the floods victims in several inundated districts of Sindh province: Badin, Sanghar Mohammed Tando Khan, Mirpur Khas, Nawabshah, etc.

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