DUBAI // Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, visited the logistics hub Dubai International Humanitarian City accompanied by Princess Haya bint Al Hussein on the final day of their state visit to the UAE.
The prince met aid workers and viewed innovative projects delivering emergency support to where it is needed most as well as having talks with Princess Haya, the wife of Vice President and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and chairwoman of International Humanitarian City (IHC).
In a speech, Prince Charles said the UAE was well placed to become the world’s foremost humanitarian logistical power.
“The UAE and broad spectrum of support it offers could not be more needed in these complicated times,” he said.
“It is part of the nation’s long track record of helping those who have been affected by natural disasters, not to mention the 65 million people who have become displaced by conflict.
“The UAE is second to none in its generosity. This is one facet of Sheikh Zayed’s remarkable legacy.
“I’m delighted with the collaboration between the UK and UAE for a range of projects, such as delivering water and sanitation to humanitarian causes; it has become an important part of our bilateral relationship.”
One innovative project the prince seen was Shelterbox, which has delivered more than 1,500 emergency packages to Haiti from Dubai, helping those made homeless by the recent disaster when Hurricane Matthew pounded the Caribbean. Camilla is patron of the UK-based charity, which is distributing emergency tents and life kits.
Each box contains a tent, groundsheet, water purification equipment and solar-powered light that charges during the day so children can do their homework at night.
“The tent helps bring the family unit back together as there are separate areas inside, so they are very important,” said Sarah Jane-More, a logistics co-ordinator at Shelterbox.
“In Dubai we are well-positioned to distribute aid in the wake of any conflict or humanitarian disaster.
“I’ve met the Duchess before in the UK but it was great to see her here in Dubai and show her our operation here.”
Welshman Wayne Ffoulkes works for Fittest training services, in association with the World Food Programme. He is delivering communications equipment to aid workers and unstable governments in war-torn areas, and spoke with the royal couple.
“Our mandate is to provide communications in any of these areas where there has been a humanitarian disaster,” he said.
“We’ve been out to Yemen, Iraq and Haiti. Dubai is geographically central to many of those areas, and Jebel Ali Port is crucial.
“If you go to a country where the government is not as stable as it could be, such as Yemen, we can help deliver a crucial communications network to help coordinate where food and other aid is most required.”
Other projects on show for the royal visit were a solar-powered water pump, temporary shelters and bridge-building equipment to help deliver aid on the ground.
IHC was founded in 2003 and is among the 28 entities that make up the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, the largest development foundation in the Middle East.
As well as delivering humanitarian supplies, it has helped protect more than 600 United Nations staff from conflict in Afghanistan, Yemen and Egypt through evacuation operations.
“In the UAE we are standing by humanity, and this has always been championed by Prince Charles,” said IHC board member Hilal Al Marri.
“His charities provide critical support to a wide range of global causes.
“He has installed an ethic of giving at the core of British society, one which is emulated the world over. The sun never sets on British generosity.
“In the UAE, our record is only decades old but we have become the world’s most generous donor.”
In the afternoon, Prince Charles met Sheikh Mohammed and Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed at Zabeel Palace. They discussed the promotion of cultural, tourism and sports ties between their two countries.