x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Quiet Independence Day for UAE's Pakistani expatriates

Celebrations for Pakistan's Independence Day are likely to be a subdued affair for expatriates this year due to its coincidence with Ramadan.

DUBAI // Ramadan and the summer heat will mean subdued independence celebrations today for expatriate Pakistanis.

Pakistan is celebrating its 66th anniversary but most expatriates will mark the day quietly with family and friends.

The country's embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai will hold flag-raising ceremonies this morning, while the Pakistan Business Council in the capital has arranged a celebratory iftar.

Tonight the country's former president Pervez Musharraf will also host an iftar at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Dubai, where he will address members of his All Pakistan Muslim League political party.

For Homa Qamar, a Pakistani fashion designer in Sharjah, Independence Day is traditionally one of the biggest celebrations in the community.

"I will be having an iftar with a couple of my girlfriends and we will be dressed in green for the occasion," Ms Qamar said. "We will also be putting the flags on our cars and visiting our friends."

In Dubai, celebrations took place early, with the Pakistan Association Dubai organising an evening of activities last night.

"We started off with a pre-iftar medical check for labourers and had a Quran recital and speeches from various members of the association," said Rizwan Fancy, the group's community welfare officer.

"With it still being Ramadan and so hot outside it hasn't been possible to organise anything during the day, so we felt this was the best way to do it. I think most people are preferring to have a low-key independence day this time around."

Jamil Ahmed Khan, the Pakistani ambassador to the UAE, said August 14 "marks the realisation of that emancipatory dream of the poet philosopher of the East, Allama Iqbal.

"Lighting up the flare for freedom in the hearts and minds of the south Asian Muslims ultimately set the tone for the struggle by the founder of the nation, Qaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, thus culminating in the creation of Pakistan."

Mr Khan praised the close ties between the UAE and Pakistan

"Around 1.2 million vibrant Pakistani expatriates are settled in the UAE and playing their role in the phenomenal success story of the United Arab Emirates," he said.

More than 5,000 Pakistani companies are registered in the Emirates and trade between the two stands at US$8 billion (Dh29.38bn).