Saudi businesses keen to invest in Pakistani housing, power, hotels

Pakistani Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz meets Saudi and Pakistani investors in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on August 9, 2020. (Courtesy: Pakistani mission in Riyadh)
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Updated 14 August 2020

Saudi businesses keen to invest in Pakistani housing, power, hotels

  • Kingdom-based Pakistani and Saudi investors met with Pakistan’s ambassador to Riyadh on Aug 9
  • Discuss new investment opportunities, businessmen apprise ambassador about problems with remittances and taxes

ISLAMABAD: The spokesman of the Pakistan mission in Riyadh said on Thursday Saudi businessmen had shown “keen interest” in investing in Pakistan’s power, housing and hospitality sectors.
On August 9, the Pakistan Embassy convened a business meeting of Saudi and Pakistani investors based in Saudi Arabia with Pakistan’s ambassador to Riyadh, Raja Ali Ejaz.
Speaking about the meeting, embassy spokesperson Dr. Mudassar Cheema said: “They [Pakistani and Saudi investors] were interested to make investment in Pakistan in the sectors of housing, construction, hotel and hospitality and power generation.”
Cheema said the investors also spoke about problems they had faced in doing business with Pakistan, including with remittances and tax regimes.
“Post COVID, exporters faced many challenges including loss of contracts, lockdown and labor issues,” Cheema said in a phone interview, adding that the embassy would arrange online meetings between investors and Pakistani government departments and officials so interested business groups could learn about public sector organizations in Pakistan.
“The trade minister of the embassy will arrange online meetings of these investors with federal and provincial Board of Investments, Trade Development Authority, Faisalabad Investment Estate Development and Management Company and concerned Chambers of Commerce,” Cheema added. “To explore opportunities in [port city of] Gwadar, a meeting will be arranged with Balochistan Board of investment and other concerned people very soon.”
He also said the mission would arrange for business delegations from Saudi Arabia to visit Pakistan to explore opportunities at the earliest possible date.
“The ambassador, Raja Ali Ejaz assured full support and cooperation to investors from the Embassy of Pakistan,” Cheema said. “The ambassador has conveyed that post COVID, all Pakistanis must put efforts to regain market of Saudi Arabia.”
Chairman of the Pakistan Investor Forum, Raja Khalid, who was part of the delegation that visited the embassy on August 9, said the Pakistani government must clarify policies related to taxation and other incentives so that businesses could invest without reservation.
“Many businessmen, both Saudis and Pakistani origin, who have established businesses in the Kingdom wanted to invest, especially in the housing sector and Gwadar, but we need a clear picture regarding taxation and other incentives,” Khalid told Arab News. “We will follow up with the embassy regarding this as they promised to arrange our online meetings with relevant departments in Pakistan.”


In memory of daughter, Pakistani man runs Dubai desert to raise awareness of ‘newborn screenings’

Updated 52 min 57 sec ago

In memory of daughter, Pakistani man runs Dubai desert to raise awareness of ‘newborn screenings’

  • Seven years ago, Akbar Naqvi lost his adopted daughter Zahra Beau Naqvi to an undetected metabolic disorder
  • Now he runs to raise awareness and funds for newborn screenings that test babies in their first days of life for disorders that can hinder normal development

DUBAI: A Pakistani man has run 200 kilometers through the Al-Qudra desert in Dubai last month to raise awareness about “newborn screenings,” the practice of testing babies in their first days of life for disorders that can hinder normal development.
Seven years ago, Akbar Naqvi lost his adopted daughter Zahra Beau Naqvi to an undetected metabolic disorder. Now the owner of a fintech company in Dubai runs to raise awareness, and funds, for newborn screenings so other parents and children don’t have to go through what his family did.
Last month, the 44-year-old ran 42 hours across Al-Qudra in what he described as “the ultimate test of human endurance.” He slept only two hours and only took very short breaks along the way. His run, on August 28-29, coincided with the beginning of Newborn Screening Awareness Month, internationally observed in September.

Akber Naqvi is taking a short rest during his 200-kilometer run across Al-Qudra desert in Dubai on Aug. 28, 2002. (Photo courtesy of Akber Naqvi via AN)

“I ran to raise awareness on the importance of newborn screenings,” Naqvi, who set up the ZB Foundation in Islamabad, told Arab News this week.
Newborn screening is a simple blood test taken from the heel of a child to check for autoimmune disorders.
Naqvi and his wife Danielle Wilson Naqvi realized within their daughter’s first month of life that “something was wrong with Zahra,” Naqvi said.
Doctors were initially unable to diagnose the problem but “we then got a test done and found out that Zahra suffered from a metabolic disorder called glutaric acidemia type 2, which went undiagnosed at birth due to lack of newborn screening,” Naqvi said.
“By the time we found out, it was too late.”
A month after Zahra’s passing, the Dubai-based couple received a call from Pakistan that another baby girl needed parents. They adopted her and soon Danielle also gave birth to twins — a boy and a girl.
But Zahra is continuously present in their memory, they said, inspiring them to help other children survive through the foundation set up in her name.
The ZB Foundation has an agreement with 40 hospitals across Pakistan and has to date conducted over 30,000 free screenings of newborn babies, Naqvi said. It is now coordinating with the government of Pakistan to make newborn screenings compulsory nationwide.
“In Pakistan this test is not mandatory,” Naqvi said, “so if the hospital had the capability, and which is every baby’s right, Zahra’s disorder would have been diagnosed in time.”