In different countries of the world, the tradition of awarding medals to diplomats is sometimes seen and given by different institutions or organizations. Since last year, the Government of Bangladesh has introduced awards for diplomats residing in Bangladesh from its own country and other countries for their contribution to the field of diplomacy.
Two diplomats, Former ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Bangladesh Saed Mohammed Saed Hmaid Almheiri and Secretary (Maritime Affairs Unit) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd) Md Khurshed Alam have been awarded "Bangabandhu Medal for Diplomatic Excellence" medals for their diplomatic roles from their respective positions. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina awarded the prize to them on Monday. The award was declared in December 2020. Due to the Covid-19 situation, the distribution of the prize was belated. The Government of Bangladesh has introduced the Bangabandhu Medal for Diplomatic Excellence to inspire peace-loving people and diplomats around the world. The two winners are chosen by the prime minister herself after a high-level committee formed to shortlist the candidates submits its proposal mentioning the names of the deserving candidates.
A former Navy high official Almheiri previously worked as a deputy ambassador of the UAE Embassy, New Delhi. He gave priority to our neutral thinking. He used to tell us that ‘there are many people to say yes, you are here to say no also. You must be considerate’. He worked with his diplomatic wisdom. As we two were former journalists, he wanted us to provide accurate information. It was his priority. He was never satisfied with information whose accuracy was not proved from more than one source. He used to discuss with colleagues’ different topics but decided his way. He sent us to diplomatic briefings organized by the Bangladesh government. And it was a great chance for us to attend several diplomatic briefings along with diplomats stationed in Dhaka. He used to see ours (Bangladesh) problem from our viewpoint.
My first assignment was on the expatriate workers' situation. Based on our report he took different initiatives to lessen their sufferings and reduce the migration cost. There is no doubt that the relation of Bangladesh with the UAE is labour relations. The government's popularity to some extent depends on how many people got employed in overseas countries. So, the government’s priority and Ambassador’s priority have got similarities.
He involved us in his every work so that it would be done perfectly maintaining the interest of Bangladesh as well as that of the UAE. To lessen the suffering of expatriate workers, really, he worked a lot to increase the flight number of emirates so that expatriate workers can easily move to their destination.
His initiatives to represent Bangladesh to UAE people were undoubtedly praise-worthy. He directed us to publish a booklet regarding Bangladesh highlighting the tourist spot of Bangladesh. In a word, it was the task of the Tourism board of Bangladesh but he took the responsibility to represent Bangladesh in his country so that tourists feel free to move to Bangladesh.
UAE is one of the contributors to OIC's established Islamic University of Technology (IUT). He allowed me to represent the Embassy at the board of directors meeting and all activities regarding IUT. As a part of this, I was representative of UAE in the Governing Board, Academic council, and Finance Committee. He allowed me so that I could contribute the best as a Bangladeshi as most of the students of IUT are from Bangladesh.
In view of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, “Saed Mohammed Saed Hmaid Almheiri made an outstanding contribution to the development of bilateral relations and protection of mutual interests with the UAE, during his tenure as ambassador. He was instrumental in the resumption of labour exports from Bangladesh to the UAE.”
H. E. Almheiri played a vital role in signing several bilateral agreements on seaport development, power sector development, and UAE investment in special economic zones. After assuming office for the fourth term, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as her maiden foreign trip. During the Ambassador’s tenure, Prime minister Sheikh Hasina visited UAE three times. All this was made possible by the effort of Almheiri. His efforts made the UAE one of the top contributors in the Rohingya crisis.
Fuad Abdul Hamid Al-Khatib, Saudi Ambassador in Bangladesh was the most influential in the country and he initiated the establishment of different hospitals, educational institutions and banks in Bangladesh. This time among the Arab Ambassadors Almheiri is considered the best for his performance and the award proves it.
It is mentionable that H.E. Almheiri made all this possible with the partnership of his deputy Abdullah Ali Al Hamoudi, charge d’Affairs of the Embassy of the UAE. He gave the credits of the award to all embassy staffs whose efforts also inspired him to go ahead. It is expected that the award will highlight Bangladesh in the UAE. H. E. Almheiri will act as a brand ambassador of Bangladesh to the UAE.
The writer is former Political Analyst of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, Dhaka