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UAE World’s Major Aid Giver and Sponsor of Tolerance

By Bernard Schell

MUMBAI (IDN) - As the international community starts to implement the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, funds from countries that are not members of the Paris-based 29-nation Development Assistance Committee (DAC) have “an increasingly important role in financing development co-operation”, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). [P34] ARABIC | ITALIAN | JAPANESE TEXT VERSION PDF | NORWEGIANPERSIAN | PORTUGUESE | SPANISH  TURKISH | URDU

Though China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa are some of the major non-DAC countries giving concessional loans or grants to the countries in need, over the past years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ranked as one of the world’s largest donor of official development assistance (ODA), relative to its gross national income (GNI).

According to latest figures released by the 34-nation OECD, official development aid provided by the UAE amounted to about 4.9 billion USD, being 1.17 per cent of its GNI – a significant share when compared to 0.30% of the gross national incomes of the DAC members mainly comprising the U.S. and Western European countries.

The largest DAC donor countries by volume were the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan. But Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom continued to exceed the United Nations’ ODA target of 0.7% of GNI.

Reports in the UAE media quote Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai stating that the Emirates’ “renewed position as the most generous aid donor in the world” reflected the nation’s founding principles of unconditional support for those in need.

In October 2015, Sheikh Mohammed launched the Global Initiatives Foundation to consolidate a range of charitable and human development initiatives worth about 272.23 million USD annually.

In a series of tweets, he said: “Humanitarian work has changed and today’s challenges require huge global foundations to contribute in achieving societal change. We will not turn our backs on our region, we will provide our support and bring hope in a better future for our youth.”

The project hopes to reach more than 130 million people in at least 116 countries by 2025, though much of its work will target the Arab world. The foundation also plans to invest 544.5 million USD to set up medical research centres and hospitals in the region and 136 million USD on water shortage research.

Sheikh Mohammed further stressed that humanitarian and development work should keep pace with, and benefit from technology developments and work in an institutional manner to fulfil the UAE’s vision of transforming into “a real humanitarian capital”.

“The culture of giving is deeply rooted in our society, and it has been always nurtured by UAE leaders since the inception of the UAE. We are humbled and pleased that the UAE came in the first place worldwide in terms of the value of its official aids as a percent of gross national income,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The foundation will consolidate the work of 28 organisations focusing on four main sectors: fighting poverty and illness, spreading knowledge and culture, empowering the community and driving innovation.

By 2025, the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives Foundation plans to support and educate 20 million children, and prevent or treat blindness and eye diseases for 30 million people.

Commenting on the launch, Sheikh Mohammed said: “The Arab region is undergoing massive challenges. We will not turn our backs on our region, we will provide our support and bring hope for our youth.”

He added: “The world today is facing great challenges on all levels; in terrorism, wars and mass immigration and the only solution lies in human development which can be achieved by educating people and helping them build their future.”

The Foundation will continue with its relief work and will empower more than 2 million families, enabling them to become self-sufficient within the next ten years. The new institution will also support young entrepreneurs in order to provide more than half a million jobs over the next few years.

In the field of spreading knowledge and science, and encouraging the translation of key works into Arabic, the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives will work on printing and distributing more than 10 million books, and the translation of the top 25,000 titles from various languages to Arabic, as well as continuing with promoting a vibrant reading culture among school students.

The Foundation will support programmes that aim to see over than 500 million books read over the next ten years across the Arab world. The investment in educational, knowledge, and scientific initiatives will total about 409 million USD to create real change in this sector.

The Global Initiatives will also work within its overall development strategy on establishing a new culture in societies based on tolerance and cultural and civilization openness.

“To achieve this goal, the foundation has dedicated more than163 million USD to promote a transparent and lively media dialogue and also to enable communities to live in harmony, away from extremism, ethnic, religious or sectarian discrimination.” The institution will target over a million participants in awards and forums related to community empowerment over the next 10 years.

As part of its overall vision to develop the region, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives will support innovation and scientists in the region by fostering 5,000 innovators and researchers and will invest more than 1.5 billion USD in building a better, world-standard environment for innovators in the region.

The institution will also focus on fostering entrepreneurship by supporting and nurturing 50,000 young entrepreneurs and supporting the establishment of new companies that will provide 500,000 job opportunities in the region during the coming years.

“All of this is part of the institution’s comprehensive development vision to contribute, even if for just a little bit, towards eradicating unemployment and providing Arab youth with a dignified life, preventing them from being misguided and lured to terrorism,” states the Global Initiatives on its website. [IDN-InDepthNews – 5 January 2016]

Photo: Sheikh Mohammed. Credit: www.sheikhmohammed.co.ae