By Soraya Dali-Balta
The United Arab Emirates has been crowned as the world’s top humanitarian donor of the year 2013, after it offered 5.89 billion US dollars in foreign aid that year, reaching the most vulnerable communities and the least developed societies in more than 140 countries around the world through 38 donor groups.
The announcement was made in early 2015 by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an organisation dedicated to promoting policies which improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. The Committee noted in its yearly report that up to 93 percent of the UAE’s foreign aid were in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA), making 1.33 percent of the country’s Gross National Income.
The United Arab Emirates targeted different sectors in its ODA such as tourism, health, transport and storage, education, social services, infrastructure development water and sanitation, environment and climate change, agriculture, amongst others. Meanwhile, the remaining amount of the UAE’s foreign disbursement was dedicated to charity and humanitarian aid which were translated in supporting the sectors of health and education, in strengthening coordination and support services, and in the provision of food, shelter and non-food items to vulnerable communities.
More than 140 countries benefitted from country’s foreign aid disbursements in 2013, including developing nations in Africa. The United Arab Emirates was also particularly keen on supporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa region who have been strongly affected by turmoil in the past few years, including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, the occupied Palestinian territories and Lebanon.
This achievement of the UAE was only made possible thanks to several governmental and non-governmental bodies who are thoughtfully dedicated to alleviating suffering and promoting development around the world.
The United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority ranked fourth on the list of the UAE’s top donors with 154.19 million US dollars in foreign assistance in 2013. This money was spent on developmental, humanitarian and charitable projects in 71 countries and on one global project. The occupied Palestinian territories received the most support from the UAE Red Crescent in 2013, where more than 600 houses were rebuilt by the National Society in Khan Younis and the Gaza Strip. Yemen and Jordan followed, and projects in these two countries focused on supporting orphans and on the provision of relief services and support for Syrian refugees respectively. Meanwhile, the “Dress One Million Needy Children” project was of a global character and it aimed at providing support to more than two million children in 44 countries around the world.
The official announcement of the UAE as the world’s leading humanitarian donor recognizes a nation which has been on the frontlines of humanitarian crises in the world. And in addition to its humanitarian and developmental donations, the country is home to the International Humanitarian City (IHC), a Dubai-based logistics centre for the distribution of humanitarian aid which hosts more than 50 non-governmental organisations and commercial entities, among them the Global Logistics Service of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who are all involved in the delivery of aid during crises and for long-term development purposes.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and the Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, lauded his country’s achievement, stressing that foreign aid has purely humanitarian purposes. “Our aid has humanitarian objectives only; it is never governed by politics or limited by the geography, race, colour, or religion of the beneficiary,” he said.
Meanwhile, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, the Minister of International Cooperation and Development, promised that the 2013 achievement of the UAE will lead to more people across the world become recipients of UAE foreign aid.