DUBAI // A new television show aims to help Pakistani expatriates solve some of the issues they have with services run by their homeland's embassy and consulate.
From today and running every Friday for the next three months, Hum Hain Pakistani will give expatriates a chance to raise their concerns directly with senior consulate and embassy officials.
The hour-long show will run on the Khyber TV channel.
"The idea is to get consular officials to answer questions on a wide range of topics," said Zahida Praveen, a spokeswoman for the Pakistan embassy in Abu Dhabi. "To our knowledge, we believe this is the first programme of its kind by a foreign embassy, and I think it will prove very popular."
The hour-long programme will have an e-mail and phone-in question-and-answer session, running from 3pm to 4pm each Friday.
"It will be part of an interactive segment on the Gulf Time show and we are expecting a wide range of issues to be raised, from consular services to welfare," Mrs Praveen said.
The first guests will be the Pakistani Ambassador Jamil Ahmed Khan and the Consulate General Tariq Iqbal Soomro.
"Each week we will have a different officer attend to answer questions so the topics will change each time," Mrs Praveen said. "We had been planning this show for about a month and the whole point of it is to bring the consulate and embassy closer to the community. We aim to accept the maximum number of calls from viewers."
The show concept has been widely welcomed within the Pakistani community in Dubai.
"We've needed something like this for a long, long time," said Mushtaq Khan, 27, from Dubai. "One of the big problems is that even for simple questions, it takes a long time to get answered. But by having a phone-in with the people in charge, we can get responses there and then."
For Samreen Hussein, 26, the often slow pace of arranging visas and other documents is the main issue. "It would be good to get a straight answer about why it takes so long," she said, adding that the show was a welcome sign that the embassy and consulate were willing to be more open with the public.
"It's a step forward in the right direction, but they need to do more and be serious about improving the services they have," she said.