ISLAMABAD    -     The United Arab Emirates-Pakistan Assistance Program (UAE-PAP) is working on more than 100 large scale projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, said the top diplomat of United Arab Emirates in Islamabad, adding that the organisation was primarily focusing on education and health care sectors during the third phase of its program.

 “Last year in May, we signed a $200 million cooperation agreement to execute Phase III of the UAE-PAP. This was for more than 100 bigger projects in Balochistan and KP focusing on education and health care,” UAE Ambassador to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al-Zaabi said.

The UAE-PAP was launched in January 2011 with the objective of providing help and humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan and support their development initiatives for a better future. The program’s third phase complements the previous two phases in which 165 development and humanitarian projects were completed at the cost of $365 million.

Al-Zaabi said one of the main projects of UAE-PAP was to eradicate polio in Pakistan, though there were also several other programs to improve the country’s water and agriculture sectors.

He added that UAE’s charity institutes, such as Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan foundations, were also managing several projects in Pakistan.

“The Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Foundation has built many schools and hospitals in small villages of Muzaffarabad. They built hospitals, medical clinics, mobile clinics and schools in those areas where even vehicles cannot go,” he said in an interview with Arab News.

Al-Zaabi pointed out that Pakistan and the UAE had always maintained a strong diplomatic relationship. “I always call it classical relations between the UAE and Pakistan because the leaders of the two countries have the same vision of looking to the future.”

The ambassador said his mandate required him to explore new areas where both countries could work together, identify investment opportunities for entrepreneurs in his country, and facilitate Pakistani business people who wanted to benefit from the UAE market.

The envoy added that special emphasis was also placed on improving visa facilities in Karachi and Islamabad to help Pakistani laborers who were looking for work in his country.

Al-Zaabi was awarded the “UAE Medal of Pride” for enhancing bilateral relations between Abu Dhabi and Islamabad by building new partnerships and broadening the scope of economic and trade cooperation in all areas of common interest between both the countries.

“We at the embassy believe in teamwork and this medal is not for me but it’s for my team at the embassy,” he said, adding “Every other day we have a new initiative and idea to improve relations with Pakistan, enhance bilateral trade and also to facilitate Pakistani community in the UAE. I count myself not only as the UAE ambassador in Islamabad but also as Pakistan’s ambassador in Abu Dhabi.”