x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Pakistani youth club creates valued community spirit

A Pakistani youth club founded 18 months ago helps community members develop their social circle and find jobs.

DUBAI // A youth club created to build a sense of community spirit among young Pakistanis is thriving by helping people find jobs and develop their social circle.

Founded two years ago with just a handful of people, the Youth Club of Pakistan's membership has grown to 1,300. Members come from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

"The group was set up because young people, especially from the Pakistani community, didn't really have a forum where they could come and discuss their concerns," said Qasim Riaz Sahi, 28, the club's president.

"The club is a platform where young people can come together for social gatherings and education courses. The key thing for us is to build up a better sense of a community spirit among the younger generation."

The group was set up in October 2009 and is based at the headquarters of the Pakistan Association of Dubai in Bur Dubai. Membership is open to anyone between ages 20 and 30.

The club organises events ranging from concerts by popular Pakistani musicians to networking seminars.

Last summer, it also raised money to help the survivors of the devastating Pakistan floods.

"We have sports events for people to play cricket, football and badminton and also invite HR managers from various companies to give our members advice on looking for jobs or changing their careers," Mr Sahi said.

Tabish Zaidi, 26, the club's general secretary, said that although fewer Pakistanis had come to the UAE since the economic crisis in 2008, there were still plenty.

"One of the main things for us is to represent young Pakistani professionals and those who are coming to Dubai and the UAE looking for jobs," he said.

"We want this group to help people reach their full potential and the response and feedback we have had has been very positive. We try to organise one event each quarter and that seems to be going quite well.

"We could do more, I guess, but we don't want to overburden ourselves because although we have volunteers everyone also has a full-time day job. It's difficult to manage both."

For Roya Hasan, a marketing coordinator who has lived in Dubai for five years, the group has helped her build a social network.

"When I first moved here, I didn't really know many people, but after joining the club about a year or so ago that has all changed. It is very good."

Ms Hasan, who volunteers at weekends as an administrator, said the members meet every Saturday at the Pakistan Association of Dubai's headquarters in Bur Dubai.

"There is a really good mix of people of different ages, experiences and backgrounds and we all learn off each other.

"There are a lot of female members of the group and there isn't any problems. Everyone is treated as equal."

Her fellow member, Aliya Suhail, 23, a lifelong Dubai resident, agreed. "This is the one place someone can go and get advice on pretty much anything," she said.

Before the group existed, she said, many young Pakistanis felt isolated either in their families or within a small social circle.

nhanif@thenational.ae