The UAE distributed more than Dh28 billion in international aid last year, the latest government figures show.
A report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation revealed that the amount of aid donated by the UAE exceeded the recommendations from the United Nations for the sixth consecutive year.
The UN has set targets of 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) from donor countries. The Dh28.62 billion ($7.79 bn) figure amounts to 0.93 per cent of the UAE’s GNI of 2018.
“When formulating its approach to providing foreign aid, the UAE has adopted its idea of sustainable development from the foundations set by the late Sheikh Zayed,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
“This vision upon which our nation has been built is being elevated to a global level.
“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.”
Although the figures are from 2018, they are the latest data set available to show the extent of international support offered by the UAE.
More than Dh15 billion is understood to have contributed towards peace and justice, economic growth, and initiatives aimed at eliminating poverty.
Aid offered to the 14 least developed countries topped Dh10.33bn, contributing to emergency health, transport, education, power generation, medical and food supplies.
“The UAE has long exerted significant efforts to support friendly nations,”said Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation.
"Whether through development projects or response to disasters, the UAE aims to do this in a manner that bolsters prosperity and stability, while alleviating suffering in recipient countries. Giving and co-operation is our instrument to making a better world."
The report highlights the extent of financial support offered to African nations, where aid reached Dh61.80bn between 2014-18 and a further Dh48.04bn for similar projects in Asia during that time.
Details have been released revealing the extent of charitable contributions by the UAE to help small island states in the South Pacific region, and elsewhere.
As a percentage, of the total value of aid from the UAE between 2016-18, 52 per cent was distributed to Asia, 32 per cent to Africa and 10 per cent to European nations.
A further 0.4 per cent of UAE aid was sent to the Americas, 0.04 per cent to nations in the Oceania region and 5 per cent elsewhere in the world.
Projects highlighted in the report include provision of clean and renewable energy sources, women’s empowerment in Afghanistan and humanitarian assistance in Sudan, Palestine and Yemen.
“The UAE works alongside regional and international partners and UN agencies operating in the development and humanitarian sectors,” said Ms Al Hashimy.
“Giving and mutual cooperation is our instrument to making a better world.”
How the UAE is spending Dh28.6bn to make the world a better place
At the core of the UAE’s extensive foreign aid budget of Dh28.6 billion in 2018 lies the determination to support 17 key sustainability goals laid down by the United Nations.
More than half of this fund contributed to aiding the development of infrastructure and societies in the world’s Least Developed Countries.
Three key Sustainable Development Goals have been earmarked as a priority for foreign assistance policy until 2021. These are peace, justice and strong institutions that will benefit from Dh9.35bn, growth in work and economic opportunities to the tune of Dh6.83bn while Dh2.83bn will be spent to alleviate poverty.
The top three most supported markers of foreign aid accounted for two thirds of the spending in 2018.
Key UN sustainability goals are to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, build resilient infrastructure and innovation, education, peace and inclusiveness, gender balance, access to justice, affordable and sustainable energy, access to jobs and support for global partnerships.
Ending poverty is a key driver of UN and UAE ambitions.
A UN report this year revealed 132 million people across 42 nations are in need of humanitarian support.
Emergency humanitarian aid
As a result, the UAE mobilised Dh429.8 million to emergency aid sector to support vulnerable communities around the world.
Those caught up in conflict have received particular attention. Three protracted crises in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have retained the focus for much of the UAE foreign aid contribution.
That support has enabled humanitarian relief workers to offer life-saving assistance in parts of the world where it is needed most, by providing food and shelter and operational costs of camps for communities displaced by war.
The UAE has specifically supported relief work in Sudan, where there has been extensive flooding and in Indonesia, where 92 tonnes of aid was delivered to victims of the Sulawesi earthquake and subsequent tsunami that wreaked havoc on the region in September last year.
Transportation costs on behalf of the United Nations Children’s Fund were also paid for by the UAE’s foreign aid budget.
In Mali, 100 tonnes of emergency supplies and food aid was provided by the UAE in 2018 while a significant portion of the total UAE emergency health sector aid to Yemen was allocated to fight an outbreak of cholera — after the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Yemen reported 12,289 suspected cases.
Substantial support for refugee camps around the world, such as the Zaatari and the Mrajeeb Al Fahood refugee camps in Jordan, is also continuing.
Renewable energy projects
Renewable energy has been another key focus of investment and foreign aid support by the UAE, according to government report, with Jordan one of the largest beneficiaries.
The Quweira Solar Power Plant project, located in the southern part of the country, involved the installation of 328,320 photovoltaic panels that are expected to produce enough to power about 50,000 homes, creating more than a thousand jobs.
Global projects for wind power, solar and energy from other renewable sources received UAE subsidies worth Dh344.9m in 2018.
Refugees and education
Work continues from the UAE to support Palestinian refugees via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
More than 5.5 million people have been helped at camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and in occupied Palestine thanks to donations from the Emirates.
That cash has enabled refugees to gain access to education, healthcare and social support, in some cases for the first time.
In Mali, where more than two million children across the country, aged 5 to 17, do not attend school, the UAE funded the implementation of more than 40 education projects, including the construction of training centres and education facilities.
More than 50,000 homes are also being built with the help of UAE finance to increase social housing in all major cities in Mali, where 5.2 million people are in urgent need of support.
Since 2012, UAE aid has increased to its highest level – a total of Dh110.9m in 2018.
Pakistan has also been a major beneficiary of aid.
It was the eighth most supported nation, according to the report, with grants worth Dh251.10m disbursed to the country – the highest in five years.
Total foreign aid grants to Pakistan from the UAE have been Dh1.76 billion since 2013.
Sudan is also in the top 10 most-supported nations, with a five-year aid plan totalling Dh3.19bn.
The UAE is the world’s largest donor to Yemen, providing the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan with Dh1.71bn.
Sustainable development goals
A key sustainable development goals for the UN is the empowerment of women, an ideal the UAE is full-square behind.
The government foreign aid report states gender mainstreaming is at the core of the UAE’s aid programming and projects.
“Women’s views, interests and needs are increasingly shaping the UAE’s thinking to achieve equality; by removing barriers that hold women and girls back, including accessing education, health and social services; empowering women and girls economically, politically and socially while protecting them from all forms of violence, including sexual violence in conflict,” the report said.