How can I help? What can I do for the people? How can I improve people's lives? It is these constant questions that have helped shape the value system and assisted His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to successfully branded Dubai into a 'City that Cares'.
As he himself points out the Dubai narrative is all about changing people's lives for the better.
It has been his constant endeavour to be engaged in a different types of war - fighting to alleviate poverty, generating better education and creating economic opportunity for his people. As he notes it is war that is really worth fighting.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charitable Foundation (MBRCF) has been involved in various charitable and developmental activities across the Middle East and Africa.
Last year, soon after the UN declared famine in parts of Somalia owing to the worst drought in decades, MBRCF launched a massive humanitarian operation to help victims of famine. It set up an operation room to coordinate relief and built contacts with aid organizations operating in the Horn of Africa to determine priorities in Somalia in particular. It was also involved in distributing 1,305 tonnes of relief food items to 11,000 affected Somali families in refugee camps in Kenya and later signed an agreement with the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) for rebuilding 20 water wells in the drought affected areas in Somalia at a cost of Dhs3 million – greatly enhancing the portable water security for people who had fled their homes due to drought and famine.
An year after his accession, in September 2007 Sheikh Mohammed announced Dubai Cares, a pioneering initiative aimed at providing education to the poor children across the globe.
In four years the foundation has managed to reach out to more than 5 million beneficiaries in 24 countries, building over 1,000 schools. Among its other achievements include drilling more than 1,000 water wells for schools, providing daily nutritious food to more than 2,000 school-going children, distributing over a million books and training over 20,000 teachers.
Sheikh Mohammed has also played an important role in UAE emerging as one of the key donors in case of emergency relief.
Speaking in 2010 while presenting the inaugural annual report for the UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid (OCFA), Sheikh Mohammed pointed out that the estimate of the total aid emanating from the UAE since its establishment in 1971 till 2009 was more than Dh163 billion.
Speaking on the occasion, he had pointed out that the country is not merely focused on being a financial, economic or tourist destination, but an important humanitarian centre on the international stage. “UAE people are not living in a state of luxury disconnected from the world around us; we feel the pain and suffering of our fellow man around the world, and we make a positive and effective contribution to alleviate the suffering of others; we help the needy to combat poverty, hunger and disease around the globe.”