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UAE Role Model for Foreign Assistance

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


Most recently, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was briefed on the UAE Foreign Aid Report for 2012, issued by the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation.
Sheikh Mohammed expressed his satisfaction with the report, stating that the volume of humanitarian aid documented in the report amounted to Dh5.8 billion, which reflects the noble humanitarian values implanted by the founding fathers of the country. 137 countries around the world were benefitted from UAE aid last year, ranking the country 6th among the biggest donors in 2012. The report gives detailed data on UAE grants and loans provided by 43 donors, charitable and humanitarian organisations, including 22 Emirati government entities.

Different Entities Amount Dh
UAE Government 2.62 billion
Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) 1.28 billion
The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation 563 million
Source: UAE Foreign Aid Report (2012)

The figures uphold the UAE government full commitment towards humanitarian assistance policies/programs around the world extending help for the needy and poor people. The UAE government was among the largest foreign aid donors giving Dh2.62 billion ($712.2 million), which accounts for nearly 45 per cent of the country’s total foreign assistance.

It also shows valuable contribution of the ADFD in the wellbeing of weaker people living in different parts of the world. It disbursed Dh1.28 billion ($348.9 million) or nearly 22 per cent of the total aid. According to the report the ADFD has further committed Dh5.59 billion ($1.52 billion) for future developmental projects in several countries.

The fund focused on energy generation and supply and spent $369.7 million in those areas. The fund granted $44 million to the Seychelles for a wind power station to replace its diesel-operated plants. Allocation of funds to alternative energy mix shows UAE strong commitment to make this world free from carbon-notes and leading towards green energy arena. It also provided grants for the construction of roads and bridges in countries including Afghanistan, Albania, Benin, Morocco and Tanzania which are now contributing positively in their macro-economies.

Its other projects included building housing in Afghanistan and the Maldives, urban development projects in Algeria, Bahrain and Egypt and hydro-electric power facilities in Burkina Faso. It focuses UAE strategic vision to provide basic necessities of life to underprivileged communities living in difficult conditions.

The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation is also rigorously engaged in different kinds of humanitarian assistance programs not confined to relief fund, medication, schooling, health, clean drinking water etc. It was third at 9.6 per cent, donating Dh563.06 million ($153.30).

A large chunk of this $222m allocated to the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Texas, for its Ahmed bin Zayed Cancer Centre and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for cancer therapy. It indicated UAE strong commitment towards healthy life and fight against fatal diseases like cancer.

The report also highlighted the generosity of the UAE’s private sector and individuals, as well as, the private contributions that enabled the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) and other organisations to offer significant humanitarian relief assistance to countries and populations in need.


The President: Pioneer in Humanitarian Assistance

Sheikh Mohammed added, “President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a pioneer in humanitarian work without peer in the country, as aid provided by him alone stood highest among all the government or private institutions in the country.”

The Vice President added that the UAE is presenting a role model to be followed in the field of helping needy people worldwide, out of its commitment to Islamic teachings and the implanting of values of consolidation adopted by the country. It is a role model of foreign assistance in the world. It is one of the main actors of its foreign policy succeeded to win millions of hearts in the parts of the world. The economics of charity has multiplier effects for the people living in difficult conditions in terms of conflicts, wars and natural calamities and UAE is the icon of economics of charity.

Right from the beginning, its global foreign assistance drive in different shapes have been reaching out to struggling people and underprivileged communities situating from Libya to Larkana, Syria to Sudan, Palestine to Peshawar and the last but not the least, Algeria to Abbottabad.

Value of UAE Foreign Aid

The UAE does not provide conditional aid or wait for a return, as the motivating stimulus to provide humanitarian aid is its strong keenness to contribute to achieving stability and providing a dignified life for all peoples, regardless of their race or religion,” added the Vice President. Conditional foreign assistance played havoc in the past where these were granted to gain some specific socio-economic concessions, geo-political leverages and the last but not the least, geo-strategic benefits. Communism and imperialism have been kept on winning and losing allies on the plea of foreign assistance. Misery, political chaos, societal struggle and meltdown of economies have been the ultimate results of conditional foreign assistance throughout the world. Many countries of Africa, Asia, and even Latin America are the prime examples of conditional foreign assistance. But now UAE has its own unique model of foreign assistance which is based purely on humanity, sacrifice, generosity and above all cooperation. It has been distributing generous foreign assistance beyond the parameters of religion, ritual, race and color.

Full Commitment

He also cited the country’s full commitment to its humanitarian message and its pioneering role in the in the international community, since this stature shoulders responsibilities towards effective and positive participation in achieving desired targets.
The value of the aid reached Dh5.8 billion in 2012 in addition to the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development’s (ADFD) pledge to provide aid valued at Dh5.59 billion for the benefit of developmental projects in several countries. According to the report, 10 Arab countries were among the world’s top beneficiaries from the foreign aid provided by the UAE in 2012

Continental Distribution

Continents Allocations Dh Details
Asia 3.24 billion It received more than 50 percent foreign assistance of the total disbursements. The largest portion of Dh2.24 billion ($610.6 million) was allocated to countries in Western Asia, mainly Jordan, Palestine, Yemen and Azerbaijan. Western Asia has been the primary destination of UAE assistance for three consecutive years since 2010.
Africa Dh1.26 billion It received more than 20 per cent of the aid in 2012.
Countries Jordan Dh966.9 million
Palestine Dh507.2 million
Afghanistan Dh366.8 million
Pakistan Dh354.1 million
Yemen Dh208.8 million

On assistance category, majority of the UAE’s aid, 87 per cent or Dh5.07 billion ($1.38 billion), was distributed for developmental projects such as infrastructure, health, education, social services, water and sanitation and agriculture while Dh404.4 million ($110.1 million), 6.9 per cent, was for humanitarian assistance used to help alleviate the suffering of people in Syria, Yemen and 49 other countries and territories.

A total of Dh356.2 million ($97 million), 6.1 per cent, was dedicated for charitable projects including religious sites and education, support to individuals and small communities.

Details of the UAE Foreign Assistance (2012)

Disbursement of Funds Amount Dh
Development 5.07 billion
humanitarian services 400 million
Charity 360 million
Source: UAE Foreign Aid Report (2012)

The above table clearly shows that the government of the UAE has great vision about the socio-economic development of the people around the globe because its multiplier effects. It would reduce ratios of poverty. It would decreases levels of unemployment. It would also catalyst for sustainable development in these countries and struggling communities in the world.

Sector Allocation

Sectors Allocations Dh
General assistance 2.24 billion
Health 200 million
Transport and Storage 348 million
Tourism 35 million

Twenty-four women and children who were victims of human trafficking received $100,000 worth of support from Ewa’a shelters, including medical and psychological treatment, shelter, legal assistance, vocational training and airline tickets home.

UAE Foreign Assistance in MENA

The UAE has been famous for its healthy foreign assistance programs since its inception. But its donations notably increased following the eruption of protests in Libya in February 2011.

On February 25, 2011, the President, Sheikh Khalifa, ordered donor organisations to work together as a “UAE Relief Team”, which included the UAE Red Crescent, the Khalifa Foundation, the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment, the Zayed Foundation and the Government. Within the year, the UAE gave Dh247.7m to help refugees on the Egyptian and Tunisian borders, Dh213m coming directly from the UAE Relief Team.

During these times of political uncertainty and social chaos, the UAE planes and cargo ships full of medicine, medical equipment, food and other items were sent regularly. As the crisis continued, refugee camps and field hospitals were set up, sheltering 27,000 people and treating 16,000. UAE humanitarian programs succeeded to save millions of people from hunger, poverty and dying from many fatal diseases.

UAE played extraordinary work on the soil of Sudan. When Sudan split into two countries on July 9, 2011, the UAE contributed Dh149.6m to both new countries to help rebuild and support education and orphans and provide potable water. Yemen was also benefited from the lavish foreign assistance drive of the UAE and when Yemen was hit by a humanitarian crisis in 2011 the UAE donated Dh292.1m. Help came in the form of 40,000 tonnes of diesel fuel, shelter, non-food items and medical and health programs.

In case of Syria according to UAE foreign aid office (2012), Dh106m aid was given to Syria in 2011. The amount increased substantially during last year as the crisis worsened and again this year. After more than two years of bloodshed the number of refugees is now more than a million.

On its part, the UAE Red Crescent alone provided Dh42.487m in aid last year, which was used building the biggest field hospital in Jordan, and bringing in ambulance cars and housing refugees. Furthermore, The UAE pledged an additional Dh1.1bn in January 2013 at the International Donors Conference for Syria held in Kuwait. It was the joint-largest donation along with offers from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

In these countries the majority of aid was directed towards humanitarian assistance, but in other parts of the world aid was given to promote development. In Africa, Dh83.7m was given to Egypt, followed by Dh42.4m to Tunisia and Dh33m to Algeria. Funds passed to Egypt were used for housing developments, cancer treatment and support for orphans. In Tunisia funds were used for medical supplies and mobile hospitals.

In East Africa, aid was given to Tanzania (Dh32.7m), Seychelles (Dh21.6m), Kenya (Dh10.1m), and Uganda (Dh9.2m). Most of the funds were used in developmental projects. Other countries among the top 10 helped by the UAE in 2011 include Kazakhstan (Dh315m), Pakistan (Dh277m), Afghanistan (Dh149m), Palestine (Dh124m), and Bahrain (Dh140m). Beyond the Middle East and Africa, aid was given to Australia (Dh118m), the US (Dh110m), and the UK (Dh48m) among others.

Concluding Remarks

Ours is the age of humanitarian diplomacy and the United Arab Emirates is now the role model of global foreign assistance and it has attained this position because of strategic visions of its founding father and the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan towards the wellbeing of helpless humanity in the world. It has been on the effective tools for turning tears into smiles in the needy, poor and needy people along with neglected communities around the world.

Development has been one of the main areas of its foreign assistance drive achieving sustainable growth mechanism throughout the world. Its foreign assistance helps to reduce high ratios of poverty, generate employment and provides best available medical facilities and medications etc.

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