I'm grateful to UAE for golden visa, says Peshawar Zalmi chairman Javed Afridi Filed on April 21, 2021
Javed Afridi, CEO of Haier and Ruba, and the chairman of Peshawar Zalmi and the Zalmi Foundation, at the Khaleej Times office. (Photo by Shihab)

Afridi also showed his admiration for the UAE’s vision and its resilience amid the Covid-19 pandemic

For a man whose exemplary leadership has made Peshawar Zalmi one of the biggest T20 franchises in the world, Javed Afridi bats for cricket at the grassroots level.

His heart fills with happiness every time he sees little kids swing a cricket bat for the love of the game.

And it was Afridi’s passion for cricket that saw him launch the Zalmi Madrasa League in 2018, laying the foundation for students across Pakistan to chase their cricket dreams.

No wonder then that the UAE government, in recognition of his support to the community through sports and his resounding success as a businessman, has honoured him recently with the golden visa.

The Peshawar-born businessman says he can never thank the UAE enough for the wonderful gesture.

“I am pretty much grateful to the leadership of the UAE for the visa. It’ not just a visa, it’s also to pass on the message to the next generation that if someone has the ability, he can achieve those things. I am hopeful that this course of action, many investors will come to the UAE,” Afridi, CEO of Haier and Ruba, and the chairman of Peshawar Zalmi and the Zalmi Foundation, told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

Afridi also showed his admiration for the UAE’s vision and its resilience amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The country’s leadership is exemplary. They have a very big vision for their nation. The UAE has become the biggest attraction for anyone who has some innovative ideas. Also, the responsibility shown by the UAE government during the pandemic has been exemplary,” he said.

Now having received the golden visa, Afridi hopes to play a key role in the relations between the UAE and Pakistan.

“We used to come to the UAE for cricket. We (Haier) used to sponsor Pakistan’s bilateral series (in the UAE). But this time they offered the golden visa, so, it’s not just cricket now....maybe I can become the bridge between the business community here in the UAE and Pakistan,” he said.

Afridi then revealed what inspired him to take a plunge into the world of franchise T20 cricket when the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was launched in 2015.

“Cricket and, especially Zalmi, are very close to my heart. And yes, I belong to Peshawar and Peshawar is a city that is very close to my heart. I was born and brought up there. And I know every inch of that city and I know every inch of my people’s feelings in my city,” he said.

“The city and the province had gone through a lot because of terrorism, and sports can bring people together. And that’s why we put an extra effort in Zalmi and the PSL. Thanks to the people and the fans all over the world, they have supported me a lot in every aspect. Now international cricket is back in Pakistan, and we will make sure cricket is back in Peshawar as well. Next year probably, we will have some good matches in Peshawar.”

Afridi, who also has a desire to invest in Pakistan football, says cricket can play a big role in bridging the gap between India and Pakistan.

“When the relations between Pakistan and India improve, I would like to see matches between PSL and IPL teams. The political differences between the two countries, I hope can be reduced by cricket,” he said.

“And if I get a chance to play a role in that, I would be very happy. Now we have a cricketer (Imran Khan) leading our country. And now we have a great opportunity because Pakistan would be granted visas for the World Cup in India. I think we, as stakeholders in cricket, have a role to play in bringing the two countries together.”


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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