Pakistani expats have contributed to Saudi Arabia’s development, growth and prosperity, says diplomat

Updated 23 March 2018

Pakistani expats have contributed to Saudi Arabia’s development, growth and prosperity, says diplomat

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have strong brotherly relations, deeply ingrained in the hearts of the people of the two countries.
The presence of more than 2.7 million Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia is a reflection of the strong bonds between the two nations. These expatriates have contributed to Saudi Arabia’s development, growth and prosperity.
The invaluable work done by Pakistani engineers, doctors, financial experts, architects, educationists and ordinary laborers is not only acknowledged but has also helped further cement the subterranean bonds of love and affinity between our two countries.
According to the available data, some 2 million Pakistani workers came to Saudi Arabia between 1971 and 2005.
With the arrival of the Pakistanis, the huge task of the development of the Kingdom began.
Roads and motorways, bridges, the two Holy Mosques, the holy precincts, deluxe hotels, immaculate highways, winding flyovers and underpasses, multi-storied residential complexes, the landmark Kingdom/Al-Faisaliah tower, royal guest houses and communications networks took shape out of brick and mortar. Pakistanis were engaged from designing to execution, everywhere.
In 1978, Pakistani engineers and technicians working with Bell Canada, Ericsson and Phillips were involved with the installation, operation and maintenance of switching, transmission and communication networks.
In addition, the present structure of the Saudi Electric Company is the brainchild of a handful of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA)-trained Pakistani engineers who completed the tasks of planning, designing, installation, operation and maintenance of the company.
Our specialists and consultants also helped to shape the banking and finance sectors of the Kingdom.
The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) was one of the few international banks which, in 1949, received a license to operate in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) was established in 1952, and in 1964 King Faisal appointed a dynamic Pakistani economist, Dr. Anwar Ali, as the first governor of SAMA (1964-74). He formulated the agency’s banking control laws in 1966, introducing an annual report system and established an investment department to divert dollars — pouring in due to the oil price boom in 1973 — toward infrastructure development of the country. These initiatives still work as the bible of monetary policy of the country.
SAMA advisers Saeed Hamid, Hassan Mustafa, Misbah Uddin Farooqi and Pervaiz Hassan toiled from the early 60s till the early 90s to develop banking systems and procedures. Dr. Mohammed Umar Chabra (1966-1998) was another economist and researcher from Pakistan who propounded his theory on Islamic banking and won the prestigious King Faisal Award. He pioneered establishing the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah.
Tariq Jawaid, another well-known economist and Pakistani finance wizard, started his services at SAMA in the early 80s and continues to do so.
He brought in more skilled bankers of Pakistani origin such as Jamil Ahmed, Rana Shahid Habib, Qaisar Noor, Mehdi Hassan and Abbas Hassan, who rendered their services for more than two decades. They made up the second generation of Pakistanis supplementing the commendable work done by their predecessors.
In the late 80s, almost 75 percent of CFOs were of Pakistani origin, and NBP held 40 percent of the shares in Bank Al-Jazeera. World-renowned Pakistani monetary expert Shaukat Aziz worked as a bank CEO from 1986 to 1988 and made a great contribution to the development of the banking sector in the Kingdom. The legacy continues with bankers such as Ghayas Beg, Shujaat Nadeem and Sajjad Rizvi.
Health care is yet another sector where Pakistani medical professionals have earned great prestige for their country.
In 1970, Dr. Naeem Ghani, a UK-trained general surgeon, joined the Military Hospital in Riyadh and established its surgical department, and his commendable work led to him being appointed as personal physician to the current King Salman. The late Princess Sultana Foundation was also established in Rawalpindi at his behest.
Dr. Shahid Nawaz helped to establish the Department of Cardiology in Buraida, and became a renowned cardiologist in the Kingdom. In the early 70s, Dr. Ashraf Ali and Dr. Halim Khan helped to set up the histopathology department in Riyadh.
Dr. Fazal-ur-Rehman, another prominent Pakistani cardiologist, headed the late King Khalid’s medical team and for his services in the health sector he was given a ministerial position.
Over 40 years ago, Dr. Ameer Bux Channa established the department of anesthesiology at the King Khalid University Hospital of King Saud University. His training programs are still followed at the university.
The second generation of health professionals came in the early 80s. Prof. Riaz Qureshi initiated the first Saudi Board Family Medicine Program. Senior Consultant Endocrinologist Dr. Sohail Inaam has been at the Prince Sultan Military Medical City for several decades. His contributions to research in diabetes are well recognized.
In the Eastern Province, the inaugural Eye Hospital was staffed by Pakistani consultant ophthalmologists such as Dr. Wajahat Ali Pirzada, who has been in the post for more than a quarter of a century. Dr. M F Siddiqui is a renowned author.
The Saudi Ministry of Health has been hiring thousands of physicians, medical specialists and consultants from Pakistan to run its national health program.
In addition, Pakistanis have left deep imprints in the educational sector of Saudi Arabia.
At the College of Medicine of King Saud University, Prof. Dr. Sultan Ayoub Meo, an internationally renowned Pakistani scholar, has made an important contribution toward research in diabetes in the Kingdom, for which he has been awarded the King Abdul Aziz medal of excellence.
Another notable Pakistani, Prof. Dr. Mohammed Khurram Khan, has played a pivotal role at the college of Computer and Information Sciences of the university, and set up the Center of Excellence for research in cybersecurity. His endeavors have also earned him the King Abdul Aziz medal of excellence.
There are also dozens of Pakistanis who have worked tirelessly for the university and earned great respect. Dr. Mujahid Kamran was a professor in the physics department before he joined Punjab University as its vice-chancellor.
In the development of mass communication and media, Pakistanis did not lag behind. Professor Javed Iqbal, from the College of Languages and Translation at King Saud University, made the first announcement from Saudi English Channel 2 in June 1981.
He remained as the only Asian program presenter who interviewed dozens of Pakistani dignitaries during their visits to Riyadh and produced programs on Pakistani culture.
In the Urdu service sector of Saudi Radio, he has presented his weekly programs for the past 37 years. For his contribution, he has been awarded the King Fahd Shield.
The hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis who helped to build Saudi infrastructure consider this country their second homeland.
Every inch of Saudi Arabia today bears the aroma of Pakistani sweat, and our Saudi brothers gratefully acknowledge it.


Saudis unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

Updated 08 December 2019

Saudis unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

  • The attack, in which a Saudi gunman killed three Americans, is viewed as an act that does not represent Saudi people
  • The OIC has said the attacker did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people

From the king and top-level Saudi government officials to everyday Saudi citizens, all are united in condemning the attack on a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, calling it as “un-Islamic” and barbaric.

The shooting of three Americans by a Saudi gunman was an individual attack that does not represent the Kingdom’s people, it has been widely  stressed. 

For decades, many Saudis have lived in the US for work or attended universities across many states, becoming their own ambassadors. 

Nedda Akhonbay, a communications professional working in Jeddah, expressed her sadness when she heard the news.

“My condolences go out to the families of the victims as I hope they find peace in their lives after facing such a tragedy. As a Saudi-American and having spent many formative years in the US and made friends who became like family, I thought this attack was very close to home and I hope both people work together to get past it.”

“As a student who lived in the States, I never faced any problems for being a Muslim,” said Alaa Sendi, an American-Saudi lecturer working in Jeddah University.

Having obtained a PhD in electrical engineering, Dr. Nazih Al-Othmani lived between the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania for ten years in the late 1990s and was in the US during the 9/11 attacks. He recalled how Americans understood that such atrocious attacks never represented a community, and this one was no exception.

“The tragic event that took place yesterday does not represent us, this attack is unacceptable regardless of any reason and no sane person can ever accept it,” he said. “I lived in the States for many years, I was also there on 9/11, and made many American friends throughout my time there. They stood by us, they helped us, protected us and our relationship was very civil and courteous. We need to stand together to combat this dangerous tendency that can be found in every community.”

The attack at the US naval station in Pensacola, Florida, was the second incident at an American military base in this week, following another shooting at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Wednesday. (AFP)

Many Saudis are angered over the actions of this one individual. Dr. Al-Othmani expressed his concerns about those who would take advantage of the situation and try to point a finger at Saudis.

“Though right-wingers will take advantage of the event and attack Saudi Arabia, I don’t believe many Americans will see it that way. Americans are aware enough to differentiate between the nationality of an individual and his actions,” he said.

Al-Othmani recommends that Saudi students communicate, cooperate and extend a hand of friendship to their respective communities.

In the decades of friendship and cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, many Americans have come to work in the Kingdom and some have made it their home. 

Dr. Alia Mitchell, vice dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, is an American citizen who has been a Muslim for more than 30 years and has lived in the Kingdom for more than 20 years. She has chosen to live in the Kingdom as she sees the beauty of the religion interwoven into society, one that she believes is not represented by the shooter. 

“When something tragic that happens like this, it’s on the individual,” she said. “it doesn’t go back to the community or the society.

“I’m still sickened and mostly very, very saddened with this tragedy,” said Melanie H. “I’ve a son the same age as the shooter and can’t imagine what the pain and grief his actions would do to me as a parent. To learn that your son has caused so much hell… that he has taken others’ lives.”

She said: “I lived in Saudi Arabia for over 10 years and I have experienced Saudi’s hospitality, warmth — nothing like what I imagined or expected before arriving. It isn’t perfect but then what country or nation is?” 

“Now that the country has opened its doors to the world, people really shouldn’t judge the book by its cover especially when criminals like this shooter make such a false, misleading cover.” 

Melanie H continued: “Do not judge a people by an individual — that’s what we Americans are all about. No judging.”


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• King Salman leads Saudi official condemnations of Florida attack

He doesn’t represent us’: Saudis tweet in solidarity with Americans over Florida Navy base shooting

 Florida shooting ‘nothing to do with gunman’s family, tribe’


“This crime does not represent us as Saudis,” said Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, minister of Islamic Affairs, on his personal Twitter account. “We reject such criminal acts and we sympathize with the injured and the families of the victims. It is a horrible crime and a dishonest act.

“We condemn crimes anywhere and anytime, and we stress our complete rejection of such horrible criminal acts which Islam forbids.”

Saudi scholar and Imam of Quba Mosque in Madinah Saleh Al-Maghamsi shared the same notion. He said: “This incident should be stripped away from religion and from the country to which whoever committed this criminal act is affiliated. The Shariah does not approve of this act for it violates the texts of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet, which is based on the principle of no bloodshed. Logic also does not approve of this action.” 

Opinion

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The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the aggressor did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people and all Muslims who believe in tolerance, moderation and coexistence.

The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia also condemned the shooting incident in Florida and called it a heinous crime. 

Describing it as a crime against humanity, the senior scholars stressed that such actions were against the true teachings of Islam. They said that the Saudi people will continue to uphold their noble values and contribute to the progress and prosperity of the world and humanity.