Sheikh Mohammed attends the Giving Retreat

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attended today  the Giving Retreat.

The retreat included the largest brainstorm of its kind in the UAE, bringing together over 100 experts, stakeholders, officials and humanitarian workers in an interactive dialogue that identified the challenges and opportunities for humanitarian and charitable advancement in the UAE, reflecting the directives of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as well as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stated, "The Year of Giving, under the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the support of our people, will solidify the UAE’s position as the world’s most giving nation."

He continued, "Consolidating the culture of giving in the UAE is a shared responsibility; all individuals and institutions will play a vital role and contribute to making giving a part of our national agenda."

Sheikh Mohammed expressed his pride at the enthusiastic responses that he received on the #YearofGiving hashtag on Twitter saying "We received thousands of responses, creative ideas and suggestions, proving once again that our people are wired to make a positive impact on their communities and give. The eagerness of the responses heartened and assured us that because of our generous people, the future of our country is bright; the people’s ideas will soon be a reality, and everyone will play a role in embedding the value of giving even further in Emirati culture."

Accompanied by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai,Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of Federal National Council (FNC), Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future and the chairman of the Higher National Committee of the Year of Giving, Sheikh Mohammed said, "The Giving Retreat was the largest national gathering dedicated to institutionalising humanitarianism in the UAE. Today we launched dozens of initiatives that are sure to introduce a new era of giving and humanitarian work to the country. The conversations at the retreat proved that our nation, with the help and support of its people, will remain a beacon for humanitarianism."

"We will introduce an integrated legislative system with a clear framework for Corporate Social Responsibility and Volunteering, both on an institutional and individual level. We will provide volunteers with incentives and a comprehensive framework for volunteering in order to document and reward their initiatives and efforts Many young people want to volunteer, but are missing incentive programmes and clear guidance in order to be motivated to start volunteering," he said.

Sheikh Mohammed added, "Our objective for the Giving Retreat is to produce a sustainable strategic framework for the Year of Giving that we are proud of. We will ensure that the initiatives for the Year of Giving will become a dynamic part of the corporate and individual identity and performance."

The agenda for the Giving Retreat, which was held in Dubai for a full day, included discussions centred around six areas of focus for the Year of Giving.

The areas are promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as well as partnerships between public and private sector entities, under the leadership of Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy; Volunteerism, under the leadership of Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar, Minister of Community Development; the growth of Humanitarian Organisations and the development sector; the role of the media in the Year of Giving, under the leadership of Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, and Chairman of the National Media Council; the development of a legislative system supporting the Year of Giving objectives, under the leadership of Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Serving the Nation, under the leadership of Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs.

The Giving Retreat introduced dozens of initiatives to address the challenges and opportunities of each of the six areas, allocating the responsibilities of each initiative to the related stakeholder and providing a framework for performance including key performance indicators that will be used to follow up and measure that success of the initiatives.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said, "The Year of Giving will be an opportunity to create a real and active partnership between the government and the private sector, and to put a legislative framework to guarantee the contribution of companies in the development of the country. We discussed many unique initiatives and programmes, with clear KPIs, that aim to find integrated policies to encourage companies to take part in CSR. The Year of Giving has identified CSR as a clear pillar due to our leadership’s belief in the role that the private sector can play in the overall development of the nation socially, economically and environmentally."

CSR is one of the main pillars of the Year of Giving, and aims to strengthen the partnership between the private sector and government by activating initiatives and development projects in the social, economic and environmental fields, among others.

The challenges defined during the retreat that are currently faced by the private sector in this regard include a lack of a clear role for the private sector in the development of the state, as well as a lack of clear mechanisms that ensure effective contributions to development.

Not enough awareness in the business community was also identified as a challenge, along with a lack of a clear media strategy to guide and encourage CSR among private sector entities.

Other challenges include a lack of solidified partnerships between the private sector, government and humanitarian entities, as well as a lack of official statistics and data related to the state of CSR in the UAE.

Another overarching challenge was the lack of a clear definition of what CSR is, and a lack of a regulatory framework to organise the contributions of the private sector.

During the Giving Retreat, several initiatives were developed to promote constructive partnerships between the private and public sectors and advance the development of the state.

These included mandatory disclosure of a CSR strategy, and of previous monetary donations to the humanitarian sector, when updating business licenses.

There will also be a Responsible Procurement initiative, which will include allocating a percentage of government contracts to companies and suppliers that prove their commitment to CSR.

Moreover, an annual Corporate Social Responsibility National Index will be adopted to track companies in the UAE based on the percentage of their contributions to CSR initiatives.

Also, a Smart Platform for CSR will be launched through an app that includes all data related to CSR, as well as a set of guidelines, success stories, and the latest news.

An annual announcement titled the CSR Annual Results Announcement will also be made, and will include the results of the CSR National Index, honouring prestigious companies and hosting workshops to ensure continuous improvement.

Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar, Minister of Community Development noted, "Volunteering is one of the key pillars of the development and prosperity of our society, and the Year of Giving opens the door to all segments of society to volunteer in all their fields; we will create innovative initiative to reward volunteers. We have adopted a specialized volunteering programme, the first of its kind in the country, that incentivizes skills-based volunteers, and we have agreed to establish a national electronic platform that will collate all information and opportunities for volunteers in one place."

Volunteering is another central theme for the Year of Giving.Many officials from various government entities participated in the discussion, identifying challenges and opportunities.

Some of the challenges identified included a lack of coordination between federal and local government entities in the volunteer sector, as well as a lack of a legislative framework to direct and enhance volunteer efforts, and a lack of training and educational programmes in this area and a lack of professional volunteers targeted by specific sectors based on their knowledge and expertise.

Also noted was a lack of information through surveys, studies and research.

In response to these challenges, initiatives were introduced including the establishment of a National Volunteer Platform, a database that collates information for volunteers including volunteer opportunities based on volunteer interests.

Also, a programme for skills-based volunteering will be introduced, urging professionals including doctors, engineers, consultants and accountants to donate their time in their area of expertise.

The government will also adopt an Opportunities in Government initiative, through which they will share volunteer opportunities for all segments of society.

An incentive programme will also be introduced, the first of its kind the UAE, through which professionals including doctors, engineers, consultants and accountants, will be urged to donate their time in their area of expertise.

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