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All too often the news from the expat community is bad; many expats, especially less skilled migrants, are often viewed with suspicion.
Concerns are voiced about expats taking jobs from locals. Healthcare systems and public transport officers claim to be suffering under the strain. Nimbyism persists.
But not all stories end like this.
Every once in a while expats are applauded for their selfless attitudes, and are held up as an example to the rest of us.
Mohammed Idris Malek is one such expat recently to have gained national fame for his mammoth trek around the UAE.
It is no secret that the Gulf States represent one of the most attractive areas in the world for expats. Jobs proliferate and with no income tax to pay salaries can often be generous. Over the last few decades many poor workers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have flooded into the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and their neighbours seeking a better life.
There are estimated to be around 1.2 million Pakistanis living and working in the UAE, often employed in construction roles, and playing an important part of the national economy, despite the sometimes derisory treatment some hard-working expats experience.
Now, however, Malek has sought to set the record straight. Such is his professed love of the UAE and all that it represents that this Pakistani carpenter opted to walk the length of the country to highlight “the spirit of solidarity” that Pakistanis share with the UAE.
Malek set off on his epic trek on December 2nd last year – the UAE’s National Day. Carrying just basic provisions, Malek planned to sleep rough and accept gifts of food from those he met on his journey while completing his 900km trek.
His plan was to walk for roughly 20 hours a day in order to complete his journey in under two weeks. As it turns out his estimated route was actually much longer than planned. Leaving Hatta in early December the 54 year old expat ended up covering an astonishing 1050km (652 miles) before completing his walk. He arrived safely at the Pakistani embassy in Abu Dhabi after just 12 days.
Everywhere he went he claimed he was met with kindness, cheers and good humour, with many people he met opting to take selfies with him. Even the police were thanked for their patience and kindly nature.
The final words go to Mr. Malek who explained the reason for his epic trip thus: “the UAE is an oasis of peace and prosperity that should be followed by the Arab and Muslim countries.”
Not just an inspiration to his fellow Pakistani kinsmen but to expats everywhere. The modesty shown by Mr Malek is a perfect example of expats doing their bit to make their adopted country just that little bit better. Mr Malek, we applaud you.
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