Abu Dhabi (PR) On the auspicious occasion of the 47th National Day of the United Arab Emirates, I on behalf of all Pakistanis living in the UAE, and on my own behalf, extend our profound felicitations and sincere wishes to the leadership and the people of the UAE.

Today, the UAE stands proudly in the comity of nations as a hallmark of peace, progress and good governance. It has made spectacular strides to emerge as a world class hub for trade, finance, tourism and transit and transport. Remarkably, this impressive growth has been made possible by fostering tolerance, inclusive economic development and innovation. On this special occasion, we also join our Emirati brethren to pay tribute to their legendary leader, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose vision and sagacious policies have transformed this country into a land of peace and stability, co-existence and modernization.

Pakistan and the UAE have a long history of close and friendly relations, strengthened by shared interests, common values and identity of views on all issues of mutual concern.

Since the birth of the UAE, our ancient kinship has found expression in the establishment of a dynamic partnership between the UAE and Pakistan, ranging from multi-faceted economic and commercial relations to close cooperation in areas of security and defence. Currently, the UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investment. The two countries complement each other’s needs for food and energy security, and can act as springboards for one another for investment and outreach in their respective regions.

The UAE has also been a major development partner for Pakistan. A number of development projects have been funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development over the years. Here I would particularly like to recognize the valuable support Pakistan received from the UAE in its campaign against polio under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. It has saved thousands of children from this highly infectious disease.

The presence of about 1.5 million Pakistanis in the UAE is a manifestation of the people oriented relationship between the two countries. From the laborer in the factory, to skilled worker, highly educated professionals, institution builders and entrepreneurs, all have made an invaluable contribution to the development of the UAE. Remittance sent by these workers who came to the UAE to earn an honest livelihood, have also been an important factor in the social and economic uplift of Pakistan.

High level visits between the two countries have been a key element of this friendship.  The recent two visits of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the UAE in as many months underscore the strength and substance of the Pakistan-UAE special relationship. During the visits, both sides reiterated their resolve to transform the existing special relations into a Strategic Long-Term Economic Partnership.

On this momentous occasion, as our Emirati brothers and sisters celebrate their successes, Pakistanis join them in their joy. We pray for the continued progress and prosperity of the people of the UAE, and for a long life and happiness of its leaders. Amen.