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1.2 Million Pakistanis In The United Arab Emirates With 400,000 Based In Dubai, Making Around 13% Of Dubai’s Population.

There are a lot of similarities between Pakistan and many other countries which have a strong common socio-cultural foundation. Putting this into perspective, two places where this is the most prominent are the UAE and Pakistan, which might seem like they might not have a lot in common, but they do.

A little bit about both the countries.

Pakistan called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a country located in South Asia. It has a giant coastline touching the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman to the South, bordered by India, Afghanistan and China, and shares a maritime border with Oman. While the United Arab Emirates casually referred to as the Emirates is a Western Asian country surrounded by the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south and west, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north.

What are the similarities between the culture in the two countries?

Although it might not seem like it, Pakistan does not follow a standard template, much like the UAE. It is a mix of a bunch of cultures and traditions that have come in from Indian, Persia, Afghanistan, Central Asia, South Asia, and Western Asia. Similarly, the Emirates is strongly based on the Arabian culture, however, it does have certain influences taken from the Persian culture. With the common influence of Persian culture and the primary religion of both places being Islam, there is a major overlap between the religious traditions and holidays. Of course, there are other festivals celebrated but they aren’t as large since a majority of the population is Muslim.

Is there a major difference between the population and external exposure between the countries?

Overall, the UAE does have a larger exposure to the west since the country has a lot more people from different social and ethnic groups moving in and out. This can be seen in the population statistics where the UAE's population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million, expatriates. This leans toward a lot of ideas and technological advancements coming in from those countries and blending with the UAE. Pakistan in the same light is moving down a similar path but isn’t quite there yet.

What is the food like?

Overall, the cuisines are quite distinct to the individual places but certain similarities do connect Pakistan and the UAE. The main foods in the UAE are rice, fish, and meat, however, they have adopted a lot of their eating preferences from other West and South Asian countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India and Oman. Pakistan also adopted a lot of their cooking styles from other South Asian countries. Both places do eat a lot of biryani by adding different meats to change the overall taste and style. Rice is quite common in Pakistan and is served in multiple styles; plain, with spices and seasoning, and even in sweet dishes.

Are there any significant differences between both countries?

The Pakistani Government is working on a process of creating computerised identity cards to help streamline the process of international travel. They have a card called the NICOP which is the National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis, which is created through NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) which can be used as their main form of identification.

A large part of the Pakistan population lives in countries around the world either through marriage or work, however, since they travel back to Pakistan often, they can use their NICOP for a seamless trip. The document allows people to travel back and forth, in and out of Pakistan without the need to constantly apply for a visa.

The best part is that Pakistan has a good relationship with a lot of the Middle Eastern countries, allowing dual citizenship. If the people of Pakistan apply for dual citizenship with the Middle

Eastern countries, they only need a NICOP document to be able to make the travel back and forth.

On the downside, there aren’t any major ties between the UAE and Pakistan, however, people can travel using a general tourist visa and the process of applying for one is quite simple. The tourist visa is the easiest visa in terms of the application process and time taken to process it.

Overall, the two countries have a lot in common and share a fair amount of differences. The food, culture, customs and traditions have a major overlap and if people are travelling from Pakistan to the UAE or vice versa, they would feel right at home.

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