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03 December 2023

UAE world's largest donor of foreign aid

By Bindu Rai

Four days ago, Dubai took centrestage as an exemplary case study in crisis management when the emirate effectively battled a New Year Eve blaze that engulfed The Address Downtown hotel.

Residents of the UAE took to social media praising His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, whose prompt directives ensured emergency response teams were on hand to safely evacuate guests and residents, along with relocating them to other five-star hotels across the emirate.

“Which country’s government does that?” asked one resident, thanking Sheikh Mohammed on his Accession Day on January 4.

As the UAE comes together to celebrate 10 years of leadership under Sheikh Mohammed, the country and its people have benefitted this past decade with several initiatives rolled out to bring about a positive change for its global community.

Leader in foreign aid

Over the past few years, the UAE has ranked as the world’s largest donor of official development aid, relative to its national income.

According to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), official development aid provided by the country hit Dh18 billion, being 1.17 per cent of gross national income.

Sheikh Mohammed has said that the UAE’s renewed position as the most generous aid donor in the world reflected the nation’s founding principles of unconditional support for those in need.

An independent report further revealed that over the past year, the UAE aid provided to Egypt amounted to Dh11.8 billion, equal to 52 per cent of the UAE’s total foreign aid.

Meanwhile, since January 2015, the UAE distributed an additional Dh161 million to Syrian aid projects.

Global Initiatives Foundation

Last year, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Global Initiatives Foundation to consolidate a range of charitable and human development initiatives worth about Dh1 billion annually.

In a series of tweets, he said: “Humanitarian work has changed and today’s challenges require huge global foundations to contribute in achieving societal change.

“We will not turn our backs on our region, we will provide our support and bring hope in a better future for our youth.”

The project hopes to reach more than 130 million people in at least 116 countries by 2025, though much of its work will target the Arab world.

The foundation also plans to invest Dh2bn on establishing medical research centres and hospitals in the region and Dh500m on water shortage research.

He further stressed that humanitarian and development work should keep pace with, and benefit from technology developments and work in an institutional manner to fulfil the UAE’s vision of transforming into a real humanitarian capital.

The foundation will consolidate the work of 28 organisations focusing on four main sectors: fighting poverty and illness, spreading knowledge and culture, empowering the community and driving innovation.

By 2025, the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives Foundation hopes to have supported and educated 20 million children, and prevented or treated blindness and eye diseases for 30 million people.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, was quoted at the time saying: “This initiative raises the level of global commitment to international pledges and the responsibility of developed countries to achieve development and extend a helping hand.”

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares, the UAE-based global philanthropic organistion, is a long-term advocate of child rights, as it believes that education is instrumental in transforming the lives of vulnerable children in developing communities around the world.

To date, Dubai Cares has reached more than 10 million children in 35 developing countries.

In a comment, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, praised its leader for facilitating positive change through education in both the UAE and developing countries around the world.

He stated: “Nations best flourish under visionary leaders, and as residents of the UAE, we feel exceedingly fortunate to be led by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum."

As an organisation, Dubai Cares aims to provide children, regardless of religion, creed, nationality or gender with the skills necessary to realise their full potential.

By providing children in developing countries with access to quality primary education, the organisation is supporting and enabling these countries to achieve a consistent path towards socio-economic growth.