Sheikh Khalifa launches new government body to promote civic duty

Promoting volunteerism and fostering relations between public and private sectors is high on list of new body's priorities


Volunteers set up a 20mx20m light installation, comprised of 2,000 solar lanterns, arranged to reveal the Zayed Sustainability Prize logo.

Following a month-long, five-country, transcontinental journey, the Zayed Sustainability Prizes Guiding Light campaign arrived to Abu Dhabi today. 

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

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The President, Sheikh Khalifa, has directed the launch of a new government body that aims to ensure the advancement of society in Abu Dhabi by fostering relations between community organisations and the public and private sectors.

The body, known as Ma’an, has been set up to promote a sense of civic duty through collaboration between the public and private sectors and various community groups.

The project was first announced in June 2018 as part of the Ghadan 21 programme, a three-year Dh50bn project that was set up to support investments and technology that would drive Abu Dhabi’s economy.

“A culture of giving, community participation and generosity are inherent values of our society and these principles are the heritage of the people of the United Arab Emirates,” said Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Community Development.

“Ma’an will continue this legacy in facilitating diverse stakeholders to work together, generating progressive and smart solutions for the city’s social needs and a sustainable economy based on knowledge and innovation.”

He added that the Ma’an platform would engage all sectors of society to participate in the development of Abu Dhabi by “advancing entrepreneurial spirit and social cohesion”.

“Development is a shared responsibility and Ma’an will support multi-stakeholder collaborations with relevant resources to help grow the third sector, including social enterprises, to have a measurable social impact,” he said.

Ma’an was also set up to encourage community engagement by focusing on social investment funds as well as fostering a culture of volunteerism.

The body will create new and social volunteering opportunities to tackle key social challenges, as well as offering support to organisations to improve the quality of volunteering experiences.

“As the city and nation matures, it is our responsibility to ensure that this growth is truly inclusive, compassionate and consistent,” said Dr Al Khaili.

“Ma’an is well-positioned to assist the government in delivering the best solutions to meet our society’s complex challenges.”

The Chairman of the Department of Community Development added that development is a shared responsibility and Ma’an would support multi-stakeholder collaborations, including social enterprises, to improve the standard of life for people in Abu Dhabi.

The Ma'an authority will work with four core pillars at the heart of its ethos.

The first of these is the Social Investment Fund which has been set up to support the growth of social enterprises by encouraging the birth of new ideas which will then be incubated and scaled into projects and organisations.

Ma’an will also partner with the government to steer funds for key social initiatives, designing fundraising plans, allocation strategies and enabling processes, with the belief that economic and social progress go hand-in-hand.

The next pillar is the Incubate and Scale approach. As part of its efforts to build the third sector, as well as empowering social entrepreneurs, Ma'an will help transform ideas with a community focus into social enterprises, and non-government organisations, by leveraging relevant resources such as knowledge, expertise, capital and talent.

The third pillar is Focus on Outcome. This involved seeking innovative financing for social services to sustain long-term solutions.  Ma'an, will be the first to roll out Social Impact Bonds in the region and will support the government by facilitating the management and contracting of potential bidding service providers to ensure efficiency, transparency and a focus on performance-based outcomes.

Social Volunteering Programmes represented the fourth and final pillar. This involved the promotion of volunteering projects to address social challenges as well as improving the quality of the volunteer experience.

The announcement came a mere day after a law was enacted that formalised the creation of another government body, designed to attract direct foreign investment into the UAE capital.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office was also created as part of the Ghadan project.

The 10-step programme is as follows:

  1. Permanent home licences that will except the requirement of having an office or work space for two years.
  2. Instant licensing for most commercial license types and all Government services.
  3. New speedy payments for private sector contractors and a review of fines incurred by delays they cause.
  4. A cost-cutting review of building regulations for infrastructure, residential properties, commercial and industrial sectors.
  5. The establishment of Abu Dhabi Accelerators and Advanced Industries Council, called Ghadan, to identify new technologies and investments that will boost the future economy.
  6. Developing eco-tourism, creating camping villages and areas for recreational sports areas.
  7. Promoting partnerships between the public and private sectors and accelerating projects between the two by the end of 2018.
  8. Creating at least 10,000 jobs for Emiratis in the private and public sectors over the next five years.
  9. Encouraging and organising local production and supporting SMEs to boost their competitiveness locally and regionally.
  10. Dual licences for companies in Abu Dhabi free zones to allow them to work outside the free zones and bid for government tenders.