The UAE is a leader in giving humanitarian aid

Continuing the legacy of philanthropy, the country distributed Dh28 billion in global aid last year

The Emirates Red Crescent has provided support to two million Sudanese. Reuters
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For the past several years, the UAE's global stature in the humanitarian field has grown steadily, enhanced by its generous distribution of international aid. Take the country's total foreign aid contributions in 2018 of more than Dh28.5 billion. While not surprising, this is a substantive indicator of the UAE's dedication to improve lives. It is a principle attributed to the Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, who believed that foreign aid and assistance were pillars of this country's foreign policy.

For the sixth consecutive year, the UAE's total international aid surpassed the 0.7 per cent of gross national income

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said: “This approach towards human development has been central under the leadership of [UAE President] Sheikh Khalifa, and it aims to improve the welfare of all mankind.”

The UAE has consistently topped the rankings of generous donor aid. In 2017, the UAE was the world's largest donor of official development aid, relative to its national income when the country spent 1.31 per cent of its gross national income (GNI) on foreign developmental aid. This was stated in a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Ranked second and third by OECD were Sweden and Luxembourg. They gave 1.01 and 1 per cent of their GNI respectively.

Whether it is providing emergency food supplies in conflict areas or the construction of homes in Mali; funding efforts to fight a cholera epidemic afflicting children in Yemen or the contribution to education and social support of the 5.5 million people across camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and in occupied Palestine; the UAE has led the way to a more peaceable and sustainable world.

And these crucial disbursements were made to where need was most dire – to 42 countries, primarily in Asia and Africa. For every resident and citizen of the UAE, it is a matter of pride that the amount the country has given is well above what the United Nations recommends. For the sixth consecutive year, the UAE’s total international aid surpassed the 0.7 per cent of GNI, the UN recommendation for donor countries. The Dh28.62 billion figure amounts to 0.93 per cent of the UAE’s gross national income of 2018.

When last year, the UAE rightfully staked claim to similar achievements, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, had tweeted: “We share our good fortune with all humanity”. It was then the fifth consecutive time the UAE had been named the world’s largest official development aid donor relative to national income – giving Dh19.3bn to 147 countries in 2017.

Notably, the increase every year in the amount the UAE donates shows a determination to widen the scope of welfare. The commitment to give more and help as many people as possible is aligned with the country’s core values: a broad generosity, the desire to ease suffering and help rehabilitate people from living in conditions that they had no control in creating. Indeed these core values form the foundations of this country.

There are a range of worthy causes and projects highlighted in the aid report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation: women’s empowerment in Afghanistan and humanitarian assistance in Sudan, Palestine and Yemen, and providing clean and renewable energy sources.

The UAE’s Abu Dhabi Fund for Development yesterday announced $300m in aid for Jordan, a prominent recipient of investment and foreign assistance.

At the heart of these endeavours is the UAE’s will to support 17 key sustainability goals laid down by the UN. These extend from eradicating poverty and hunger to reducing inequalities and providing clean water and sanitation. As Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation said: “Giving and mutual co-operation is our instrument to making a better world.”

Time and again, we have seen the country increase its commitment to humanitarian efforts. By leading the way in philanthropic efforts, the UAE has shown how nations should be driven by a moral duty to help where they can. It is this spirit, after all, that makes a difference to millions of lives.