U.A.E.’s leading initiatives in the service of humanity

ABU DHABI: Earlier this year, the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, announced that, based on data of official development assistance of donor countries for 2013, the U.A.E. had achieved first position globally as the largest donor of Official Development Assistance in proportion to its gross national income, noting that the country’s development assistance in 2013 amounted to US$5.2 billion.

Last year, the Clothe One Million Children Ramadan initiative, launched by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, eventually benefited more than three million underprivileged children in countries all over the world, including Bosnia, Albania, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Djibouti, Senegal, Tanzania, Malawi, Jordan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the West Bank, Gaza, South Africa, Kenya, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Romania, Thailand, Ethiopia, Malaysia and Uganda.

For this year s Initiative, the Holy Month of Ramadan sees the U.A.E. Suqia (charity drinking water) project launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, with a mission to provide clean drinking water to approximately five million people worldwide, in cooperation with the Emirates Red Crescent, U.A.E. Embassies abroad and other charity organisations. It is estimated that, worldwide, 4500 children die every day as a result of water-related illnesses. The U.A.E. Suqia Initiative will be implemented through digging wells, the provision of water pumps and water purification equipment to needy areas.

The humanitarian nature of the U.A.E. and its culture of charitable giving was highlighted in a report issued on the U.A.E. s 42nd National Day, in December 2013, where it was revealed that during that year, the U.A.E. was one of the world s most committed suppliers of aid to Syrian refugees, with over US$300 million being donated for the benefit of displaced Syrians.

The U.A.E. is also exerting its utmost efforts to strengthen international resolve to eradicate polio among Syrian children, with the Emirates Red Crescent sponsoring the immunisation of 1.6 million Syrian children in co-ordination with UNICEF. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, has donated AED440 million in support of efforts to eradicate polio by 2018.

And in November, the U.A.E. responded rapidly to the crisis in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, when President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed provided immediate funds of US$10 million to ease the suffering of the people.

The charitable donations continued into early 2014 when in February, the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC, set aside AED50.5 million for its seasonal humanitarian programmes abroad. AED6m will go to Ramadan fast-breaking programmes, AED3.5m to Zakat ul Fitr, AED1.5m for Eid clothing, AED6.5m to sacrificial animals and AED5m to stipends.

The committee also approved AED10m for health and social programmes in the Palestinian Territories, while Somalia, Yemen and Lebanon will each get AED2m in miscellaneous assistance. Syria will receive assistance worth AED 5m while Pakistan will have AED1m.

The ERCA had already offered AED1m assistance to India, while countries struck by tsunamis received AED1m.

Many organisations in the U.A.E. are dedicated to providing aid for humanitarian causes: The Emirates Red Crescent is the country s main relief and aid agency. It is independent, but takes a lead role in the government s humanitarian activities. It is guided by the principles of the international movement, such as non-alignment, non-intervention and independence. Outside the U.A.E., the Red Crescent responds to emergency situations, as well as undertaking health programmes and humanitarian projects.

Grants and loans from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, ADFD, together with Government aid administered by the Fund, have now reached over Dh 58 billion (US$15.79 billion) since the Fund was established in 1971, with a total of 62 recipient countries.

The Khalifa Foundation provides relief to victims of natural disasters and human conflict and supports health and social centres, family and vocational organisations and care for the elderly. The Foundation has funded projects in more than 35 countries around the world.

The Zayed Foundation was established with the aim of conducting philanthropic activities and providing public utilities both in the U.A.E. and abroad. It supports hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, first aid centres, child care centres, orphanages and homes for the elderly. It also supplies relief to the victims of natural and social disasters.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment provides services that include building hospitals, schools and cultural centres, digging wells, and responding to emergencies, be they natural or man-made. Major areas of operation have included Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Yemen, Kosovo and Turkey.

The Al Maktoum Foundation s goal is to improve social and economic welfare, health and education, and to this end it has built a number of medical and cultural centres, schools and academies, as well as sponsoring orphans, helping poor families and funding medical students. The Foundation has been involved in a number of relief missions in countries affected by wars or natural disasters.

Dubai Cares has reached more than four million children in countries including Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Palestinian Territories, Bangladesh, Comoros, Chad and Mauritania. It aims to improve access to primary education in developing nations by eliminating the underlying obstacles, it focuses on improving infrastructure, quality, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation. Activities include building and renovating schools, training teachers, establishing parent-teacher associations, creating libraries and distributing books.

International Humanitarian City is a global humanitarian aid hub aiming to provide facilities and services to all international aid actors. It is a non-religious, non-political and non-profit organization.

The Noor Dubai Foundation aims to prevent and treat blindness and poor vision, targeting more than one million people as part of a drive to rid the world of curable forms of blindness. Noor Dubai provides therapeutic, preventative and educational programmes to prevent visual impairment in developing countries on a local, regional and international scale.

The Dubai Charity Association has funded projects to build mosques, schools and wells across Asia and Africa. It supports religious observance, providing Iftar meals, Eid clothes and meats for sacrifice.

The Sharjah Charity Association has supported projects across the globe. It sponsors students, assists orphans and poor families, sets up schools, clinics and mosques, digs wells, and provides Iftar meals and meat for sacrifice. It also responds to emergencies, be they natural disasters or man-made.

The U.A.E. International Humanitarian Mobile Hospital was launched by the Zayed Giving Initiative in order to deliver free specialised medical services to patients in the U.A.E. and abroad. It focuses on children and the elderly as well as maternal health care.

MICAD, the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation, was established on 12th March 2013. MICAD s role is to work with U.A.E. donor organisations to boost the U.A.E. s contributions as a major international donor and a key player in development and international cooperation. According to the Ministry, the U.A.E.’s assistance for refugees worldwide, between 2009 and mid-2014, amounts to AED 2.60 billion and has benefited 71 countries. U.A.E. humanitarian aid to Syrian Refugees, between 2012 and June 2014, has amounted to AED 502.34 million.

With the advent of the Holy Month of Ramadan, many more charitable projects are being undertaken, including provision of Iftar meals around the world, which are not only supported by government bodies, but also by companies expanding their Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, commitments, and individuals, through Sadaqah and Zakat contributions.

The U.A.E., as a nation, demonstrates the qualities of giving and volunteerism every day. As the U.A.E. s Minister of Development and International Co-operation, Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, has said, the country s position as number one donor nation was not accidental: “The U.A.E. continues its work with its international donor partners in line with the directives of our wise leadership in order to enhance sustainable development in Third World countries and eradicate poverty.

The culture of giving is deeply rooted in our society and it has always nurtured by its leaders since the inception of the U.A.E.” Moran