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Thursday, March 23, 2023

A candid conversation with UAE Ambassador Al Zaabi

Jan Achakzai and the UAE Ambassador had a hearty conversation during which the Ambassador commented on issues ranging from the UAE–Israel deal, to UAE's ties with Pakistan.

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“In school we grew up with kids from over 200 countries and nationalities, as we (UAE) are a multi-ethnic society,” the young UAE Ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Al Zaabi, said during a candid conversation on Friday.

In the conversation, held to welcome the Ambassador to Pakistan, Zaabi commented on issues ranging from the UAE–Israel peace deal to UAE’s ties with Pakistan.

UAE-Israel peace deal

In an exclusive meeting at his sprawling Embassy Office, at the posh corner of Islamabad’s Diplomatic Enclave, the UAE’s envoy was very open on recent events in the region.

Developments in the Middle East, with regards to the normalization of ties between UAE and Israel, qualifies as perhaps the most important geo-political breakthrough of the 21st century. Israel could not normalize relations with any other Muslim country in 20th century except Egypt and Turkey – the main reason being the Palestine-Israel conflict.

However, UAE’s normalization of relations with Israel came as a pragmatic decision by the Arab leadership. The soft spoken Ambassador observed, “We have 200 nationalities in UAE including 450,000 Iranian nationals, so we could not afford enmity with other nations. He said that we have strong divergence, even with Tehran on issues from Iraq to Lebanon and Palestine for their interference, yet we have good economic ties with Iran”.

Read More: UAE’s recognition of Israel dents Emirati soft power as a Muslim state

‘We have not compromised stance on Palestine’

Zaabi rejected all criticism on the peace deal with the Israelis. “We have not compromised our stance on Palestine. Yes, it was the UAE which prevented further annexation of the Palestinian territory by Israel and we made it conditional upon the agreement while normalizing ties,” he noted.

“So yes, you have to engage with Israel if you want to resolve the Palestinian issue. Zero engagement would not help in resolving the issue as diplomacy is the only solution,” he opined. VIP visitors, including ministers, bureaucrats, and fellow diplomats are making a beeline to meet the Ambassador to the UAE, and also getting a beeline response.

Read More: Op-ed: The UAE-Israel Abraham Accord has varied implications for stakeholders

‘Relations with Pakistan are strategically strong’

Besides, using his diplomatic charm, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Al Zaabi is very much active in doing humanitarian and relief work in Pakistan. Since his arrival and taking over as Ambassador, the UAE Embassy has been on the forefront sponsoring various projects in various parts of the country. On his latest trip to flood affectees in Sindh, the Ambassador helped rescue up to 100,000 victims.

Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Baluchistan, and ex-advisor to the Baluchistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated with BBC World Service. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.