I consider myself privileged to be able to live and work in one of the most dynamic and forward looking cities in the world. Dubai, if you’ve never visited, is a wonderful melting pot of different cultures, and a delightful example of how different nations can not only coexist in perfect harmony, but excel and contribute to achieve incredible feats. You could be stood on an elevator and find yourself sharing the space with ten different nationalities. Visit the food court of any of Dubai’s malls and you’ll find hundreds of nationalities consuming a variety of different cuisines representing all corners of the globe.
When Dubai won the rights to host the 2020 Expo last month, the news was received with jubilation across the nation – with Expats and locals hugging and congratulating each other as they watched the celebratory fireworks lighting up the Dubai skyline. Expatriates, including those hailing from Pakistan, took out massive rallies as a show of support to Dubai and to congratulate its efforts.
Imagine then, my dismay this morning when picking up Gulf News – the most widely read English daily newspaper in this region. The front page carries an editorial demanding explanation from Pakistan for its ‘betrayal’, as Gulf News calls it, for not voting for Dubai’s bid in the voting that took place last month to determine the winning bid.
Here’s why I think this is a disgusting piece of so called ‘journalism’ attempting to sow discord among the populace.
Firstly, Pakistan is an independent and sovereign nation, with its own foreign policy and interests. Voting is a democratic process, with each voter having the right to vote for whichever candidate it wishes, without having its motives questioned or explanations demanded. Gulf News obviously has zero intention to publish the full results of the voting and criticize others who haven’t voted for Dubai. Why target Pakistan? What is the motive?
Secondly, Pakistan committed its vote to another nation it has extremely friendly ties with – Turkey. Pakistan pledged its vote to Turkey months before Dubai made a late entry into the bidding process for Expo 2020 in late 2011. After fulfilling its pledge to vote for Izmir in the first voting round, Pakistan switched to Dubai and supported it in the next two voting rounds, leading to Dubai’s win.
Since its inception, UAE’s relations with Pakistan have been exemplary. Pakistanis constitute one of the largest and most diverse set of expat communities in the UAE, woven into the fabric of the local economy. Pakistanis own and run business, restaurants, retail outlets, educational institutions, and are the third highest investors in Dubai’s real-estate market. Pakistanis have also worked for decades as waiters, construction workers, delivery men, and taxi drivers. Pakistan’s government has been a key contributor to the UAE in setting up its vital national institutions since the late 70s, including Emirates Airlines which today stands proud as the World’s leading carrier.