Pakistan Youth Forum (PYF) of Pakistan Association Dubai (PAD) organised their first Youth Convention of Pakistan in Dubai, UAE. The evening celebrated Pakistan’s people, culture, art and nature as Pakistani speakers from various walks of life grace the stage with their stories.
The Youth Convention was a conference with speeches, performances and art exhibitions from Pakistanis.
“It is very important for us expatriates to be reminded of the wonderful things Pakistanis are doing through such events,” said Adnan while talking to Pakistan Today during the event.
The speakers included a star-studded cast: Waseem Badami – popular Pakistani journalist and TV personality, Haya Fatima – Oscar winner, Faiza Saleem and Salman Qureshi – stand up comedians.
Along with people who make difference with their work, Todd Shea – American disaster relief worker in Pakistan, Atif Bin Arif – Managing Director of Pakistan’s Super Savari Express, Mashall Chaudhry – founder of the Reading Room Project and Ali Haider – co-founder of Humans of Pakistan.
“We put a lot of effort in bringing together different aspects of Pakistan and showcasing a positive image of Pakistanis to the community in UAE,” Dr Jameela, chairperson of Pakistan Youth Forum said during her opening speech.
The first speaker was the inspirational Haya Fatima Iqbal, who recently won the Academy Award for her movie ‘A girl in the river’. Like her work, Haya encouraged the expatriate community of UAE to indulge in charity and community work, “Until you do not know the people around you and their conditions, you won’t be able to help them. You are one of the fortunate ones and can be the driving force of the country,” she said during her speech.
Next up was Todd Shea, who has spent more than 11 years in Pakistan working towards the cause of disaster relief allied with various NGO’s. He spoke of his love of the company, how Pakistan was the only country that asked him to stay. Having worked vastly throughout the country, Shea invited the youth of UAE to participate in various volunteer programmes to have more in-depth knowledge of their parent company.
Todd was followed by Salman Qureshi – one of the funniest Pakistanis who left the crowd in fits. His jokes were a mix of Pakistani and Arabic culture, which was appreciated immensely by the mixed crowd.
Another person who jiggles the funny bone was Faiza Saleem, who started off her slot with her story, which was all about breaking stereotypes, within a person and in the society. She spoke of her struggle, how her body type was an issue for people and breaking free of it. “People still ask me what I do for a living. My heart was not in the field I was in, but was somewhere else,” she told the crowd. She called her calling in comedy and left her day job as a lawyer. Her message being, “Find your passion and your true calling above all break stereotypes.”
Atif Bin Arif narrated how his business started off without any plans. “Some of us friends went out for a tour of Karachi one day, and, after uploading some pictures on Facebook, we started getting calls that we, too, want to do it,” he told the crowd. Super Sawari Express brings city tour culture to the country and has served 12,000 people across the country in the major cities. Atif plans to spread his baby and invited the youth to participate in the initiative.
Todd Shea was again on the stage to perform for the audience, he played Dil Dil Pakistan and Na Janae Kabse which had the crowd singing along with him.
A lesser known hero, Mashall Chaudary, enlightened the audience about her journey. In 2013, she started ‘the Reading Room Project’ which worked towards redefining the role of the teacher. “We started off thinking that the teacher is the villain – the reason that children cannot read, write or solve sums. But along the way we understood that the person too is human,” Mashall expressed. RRP had brought about change in the curriculum of students in Karachi which is being taught to thousands of students. They are also training teachers for a better future now. “We are trying to humanise education by introducing technology to students and teachers,” she concluded.
Ali Haider, the person behind the camera of Human of Pakistan, disclosed that the idea was inspired from Human’s of New York but his journey wasn’t an easy one. His family’s agricultural business was hit by a flood which left them poor and helpless. It was only his drive to be educated which lead him to where he is now. “My past has made me empathise with everyone. I have seen highs and lows of our life and through the many pictures I try to portray just that,” he said.
Last but not the least was the panel discussion on the agenda, which was lead by Wasim Badami, who started of with a small nagma of ‘Ye Tera Pakistan Hai, Ye Maira Pakistan Hai”. The panel took questions from the crowd who was interested in knowing the role of the media in Pakistan image and how they go about their work. The convention was attended by over 200 people.
“Pakistan Association Dubai takes pride in its youth. This youth convention was a fantastic addition to our attempts to highlight the positive image of Pakistan. We hope to see more good initiatives in Ramadan,” Dr Zia, President of Pakistan Association Dubai said in his closing speech.
The event positively encouraged the youth to be part of a better and brighter future of Pakistan – be it within the country or outside.