GULF INVESTMENT IN PAKISTAN

After PTCL Al Nahyan family plans massive invest in OGDC or PPL

Imtiaz Rafi Butt
July 25 - 31, 2005

Etisalat, an Arab Emirates concern, has recently bought 25 percent shares of PTCL for Rs 2 billion (69 million dollars). It is a huge investment and will, no doubt, boost Pakistan's economy. Modern technology, coupled with more investment in the sector, will open fresh avenues of progress. There were, however, some concerns that the deal would jeopardise secrecy of sensitive agencies and put the jobs of employees at stake. The Pakistan government has obtained firm guarantees from Etisalat in this context and the latter has provided the necessary guarantees and given every assurance of co-operation as well.

The United Arab Emirates, and particularly Sheikh Zayed, the late ruler of Abu Dhabi, have long been working for the welfare of the poor and the needy in Pakistan. Their philanthropic organisations are spread all over the country. Apart from that, the Al Nahyan family plans to make massive investment in Pakistan. It has nominated Sheikh Nahyan Al-Mubarak Nahyan as chief of all such programmes. This decision is, indeed, a farsighted and judicious one.

The House of Al-Nahyan has a soft corner for Pakistan and is a great benefactor of the country. When President Musharraf paid a visit to Qatar and the Emirates last month, he was given a rousing reception by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Khalifa told the President: "We plan to make hefty investment in Pakistan. We have directed the private sector to do likewise and advised them not to focus on profits alone but to also bear in mind the interests of our Pakistani brothers."

Sheikh Khalifa has a charming personality. He is clear-sighted, a man of few words and a firm decision taker. Sheikh Nahyan has been investing in Pakistan since long. Bank Alfalah and the United Bank bear this out. He has now established his own Dhabi Group which has initiated the construction of Zayed Commercial Centre on 91 kanals of land on Ferozepur Road, Lahore. It will be the largest centre of its kind in South Asia. He has also signed an agreement to build an ultra-modern Lakeview City on 30,000 acres of land near Shahdara. (It would have been more befitting to name the new city after Sheikh Zayed). Work is expected to begin on this project by the end of the year. It would provide accommodation to some 1.5 to two million people.

Most people are not really aware of the chief character quality of Sheikh Nahyan Al Mubarak Al Nahyan. As a good acquaintance of him, I can speak about him with honesty and candour. Sheikh Nahyan is the son of Sheikh Mubarak bin Muhammad Al Nahyan. Sheikh Mubarak is a cousin brother of the late Sheikh Zayed, and was for years interior minister of Abu Dhabi and later, the United Arab Emirates. He established a police and administrative system that is among the best in the world. Abu Dhabi today stands in line with countries with a zero crime rate.

Some 25 years ago, Sheikh Mubarak visited London to attend a conference. He was accompanied by Sheikh Nahyan. In London, their car met with a serious accident. Sheikh Mubarak suffered severe head and leg injuries. His brain, too, was affected. However, by the grace of Allah Almighty and the endeavours of the doctors, Sheikh Mubarak recovered. May Allah Almighty grant him a long life.

Sheikh Nahyan is a product of western institutions. A man of knowledge himself, he is a friend of scholars. Sheikh Zayed appointed him vice chancellor of Al Ain University. He has some unique qualities which I have not observed in any other person. He is a paragon of filial loyalty. His father has regained normalcy after the accident but is no longer active. Sheikh Nahyan gets up early in the morning and offers 'Fajr' prayers along with his father. Then they have breakfast together and he feeds his father with a lot of passion. After a short rest, he assists him to attend the Majlis where Sheikh Mubarak meets locals and foreigners from 8 a.m to 10 a.m. As Sheikh Nahyan is also federal minister for higher education, he works till 4 p.m. in his office. If some official business still remains pending, he completes it after 'Isha' prayers. He then conducts his father back to the Majlis which the latter attends from 4 to 6 in the evening. This routine continues throughout the year. Once a year, he brings his father for a month to hunt in Cholistan (Pakistan). At times he has invited me to join in. I once asked Sheikh Nahyan how he could spend a month on such an exhausting exercise. He replied that, regardless of his own love for the sport, he always felt more happy to see his father happy. It is a capital lesson for our younger generation and an example worth emulating. May God guide all sons to be obedient and respectful and make all parents as fortunate as those of Sheikh Nahyan.

After PTCL, the Nahyan family plans to invest in water and power. It is also likely to purchase OGDC or PPL. It, moreover, plans to invest in real estate on a large scale. President Pervez Musharraf has no doubts about Pakistan's future and is pursuing his dream with all the enthusiasm at his command. He has close and staunch relations with the House of Al-Nahyan. President Musharraf is striving to ensure the strategic and economic development of Pakistan. The President's efforts are being ably buttressed by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Chief Minister Punjab, Chaudhry Pervaiz Ellahi and General (r) Khalid Maqbool, Governor Punjab. May Allah Almighty grant them success in their individual and collective efforts.

(The writer is Chairman,
Rafi Group & Jinnah-Rafi Foundation)