x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Dubai author provides passport to Pakistani life

A Pakistani expatriate is finishing a book on growing up in Dubai.

United Arab Emirates- Dubai - December 21, 2009:    NATIONAL: Mobisher Rabbani (cq-al), 26, of Dubai, poses for his portrait at Times Square Mall in Dubai on Monday, December 21, 2009. Rabbani was recently elected president of the UAE chapter of the Future Leaders of Pakistan, a nongovernmental organisation that aims to reach out to young Pakistanis for professional development.
United Arab Emirates- Dubai - December 21, 2009: NATIONAL: Mobisher Rabbani (cq-al), 26, of Dubai, poses for his portrait at Times Square Mall in Dubai on Monday, December 21, 2009. Rabbani was recently elected president of the UAE chapter of the Future Leaders of Pakistan, a nongovernmental organisation that aims to reach out to young Pakistanis for professional development. "We want to create more leadership skills for the community within the UAE," said Rabbani, who was born and raised in Dubai and educated in Oklahoma in the United States. "So that we can give back to our country." Amy Leang/The National *** Local Caption *** amy_122109_rabbani_04.jpg

DUBAI // Mobisher Rabbani was born and raised in Dubai but has never forgotten his heritage from Sialkot in north-eastern Pakistan.

A businessman and philanthropist, Mr Rabbani, 27, is writing a book about what it means to be a Pakistani expatriate in the UAE, aiming to dispel some of the misconceptions he says the world has about Pakistan.

He is putting the finishing touches to Travelling with a Pakistani Passport and is looking for a publisher.

"The reason I started the book was because of the negative impression people have of Pakistan from outside of the country," Mr Rabbani says.

"I wanted to show people the benefits and disadvantages of having a Pakistani passport."

The story, which he expects to finish by the end of the year, takes the reader through his childhood in the Emirates during the 1980s.

"That was an interesting time because the Pakistani economy was doing well at that time and it was stable, and the GCC countries were on the way up," Mr Rabbani says.

He attended the English Medium Private School in Dubai, which is opposite the Pakistan School in Oud Metha.

"I was in Dubai during the 1990s when the Babri Mosque was destroyed and saw the reaction that had on Pakistanis living here," Mr Rabbani says, referring to the 1992 destruction of the 16th-century mosque in Ayodhya, India.

Babri was the subject of a decades-long ownership dispute between Muslims and Hindus. Pakistanis joined Muslims around the world in their outrage at the mosque's destruction.

"That had a very negative impact on Pakistanis here and I try to explain that in the book," Mr Rabbani says.

He then went to the US to study business administration at Oklahoma State University and was there during the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

"That was a difficult time, not just for me as a Pakistani Muslim but for everyone," he says. "There had always been security measures but following the attacks it became increasingly difficult to go anywhere."

The book also looks at the impact those attacks had on the lives of Pakistanis and their country.

"But there are also many positives to being a Pakistani and carrying a Pakistani passport," Mr Rabbani says. "In countries like Turkey, Sri Lanka, the UAE and China you are welcomed."

He recalls one time when he was in a long line of cars waiting at a checkpoint in Sri Lanka. When the guards spotted his Pakistani passport he was immediately moved to the front of the line.

After university, Mr Rabbani has devoted most of his efforts to supporting human rights and humanitarian campaigns for victims of Pakistan's flooding and earthquake disasters.

He regularly meets ambassadors from other countries to try to bring people together through associations and groups. He splits his time between working for his family trading business and running a foundation that helps disadvantaged people in Pakistan.

"People in Pakistan think that those who live outside of the country have no interest in participating or helping the country, but that just isn't the case," Mr Rabbani says.

"Pakistani expatriates from all over the world have a deep affection for the country and that is one of the reasons I felt I had to write this book."

His uncle, Nawaz Rabbani, says the book will help to dispel some of the myths surrounding Pakistan.

"We call Dubai and the UAE home now as we have been here for 40 years, but your heart is always in your native land," Nawaz says.

"We might not be living in Pakistan, but we do have family there and take a great interest in what the country is going through."

Along with a growing number of young Pakistanis who have studied in western countries, Mr Rabbani is part of a generation with experience outside of the country, his uncle says.

"This means they can bring in new ideas from outside and help improve the situation in Pakistan," Nawaz says.

All of the proceeds from the book will go to the Rabbani Foundation, which carries out charity work in Pakistan, the author says.

nhanif@thenational.ae