sheikh hasher tours dihad 2023
Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum (second from left), Chairman of Dubai Media Incorporated, inaugurated DIHAD 2023 and toured the exhibition Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The 19th edition of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD 2023) kicked off today at the Dubai World Trade Centre under the theme ‘Energy and Aid: Capitalising on Available Resources’.

DIHAD 2023 brings together key decision-makers from leading NGOs, UN Agencies, charity organisations and governmental bodies, together with aid, education, and construction providers from the private sector to address the needs of people and countries affected by crises, disasters and natural calamities.

More than 8,200 people from 110 countries are expected to attend the three-day event, including 828 participating NGOs, charities, and aid and relief suppliers. Around 50 specialists in the humanitarian field will share insights on vital topics over six key sessions and deliver 16 workshops focused on Energy and Aid.

DIHAD 2023 is being held in conjunction with the 14th edition of the International Emergency and Catastrophe Management Exhibition (IECM), which provides a platform for the emergency, disaster management and search and rescue community to showcase their equipment, technology and services during emergencies to a relevant audience.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Media Incorporated, inaugurated DIHAD 2023 and toured the exhibition accompanied by dignitaries.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, Dr Maitha bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State, said: “Giving is part of human nature, as man is born by his instinct as a social being, who lives and interacts with others.” She praised the humanitarian efforts and example set by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the ‘Mother of the Nation’, saying: “She has been blessed with a big heart and a soul that yearns for giving. Her Highness naturally has the personality of a charitable person, and this character is an essential part of an individual. Her Highness is known for these inherent qualities, and her achievements in humanitarian giving are only an expression of the depth of these qualities.”

‘Mother of Peace’

The International Advisory Board of Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development (DIHAD), located in Geneva, Switzerland, awarded Sheikha Fatima, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, the Best International Personality Award for Humanitarian Relief in 2023, as well as the title ‘Mother of Peace’ in recognition of her efforts to promote international humanitarian and relief work.

The award also recognises the leading role of Sheikha Fatima in providing medical aid, assisting needy people around the world, and supporting women’s rights and gender balance.

On behalf of Sheikha Fatima, Dr Maitha, who is her advisor, received the award, which was presented by Dr Abdulsalam Al Madani, Chairman of DIHAD and the International Advisory Board, and Gerhard Putman-Kramer, CEO of DIHAD’s Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation, during the opening ceremony of the three-day DIHAD Exhibition and Conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

On behalf of Sheikha Fatima, Dr Maitha, who is her advisor, received the award
On behalf of Sheikha Fatima, Dr Maitha, who is her advisor, received the award Image Credit: WAM

The award is among the leading awards in international humanitarian and relief work. DIHAD’s International Advisory Board awards it to persons who have made valuable contributions to support needy people around the world. Sheikha Fatima is the first woman to receive the award.

Significance of gathering

Dr Hamad Al Sheikh Ahmed Al Shaibani, Director-General, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, said: “This year’s DIHAD Conference and Exhibition aims to shed light on the issue of energy and aid for international relief, as well as the situation of supply chains and logistics in the humanitarian field. We will discuss the challenges of these issues at the conference, in addition to exploring how to benefit from the available resources at all levels to provide the necessary solutions.”

Ambassador Dr Abdul Salam Al Madani, Roving Ambassador for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean for the GCC, Chairman of DIHAD Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation and Chairman of INDEX Holding, said: “DIHAD reflects the UAE’s commitment to supporting humanitarian missions around the world. Through international collaboration, we seek to support humanity in maintaining sustainable economies and livelihoods. This year’s edition is set to highlight the importance of energy and aid.”

Ambassador Gerhard Putman-Cramer, CEO, DIHAD Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation, said: “We are set to focus on and outline the essential facts and figures around energy and aid: why energy is an essential pre-requisite to both our “saving lives and livelihoods” mission and our pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, we are ready to review key challenges to our agreed norms and principles, as well as to our field-based operations.”

Dr Hamdan Al Mazrouie, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Red Crescent, said in his speech: “Our humanitarian and moral commitment to the victims of disasters puts us in the face of great challenges and responsibilities to end the suffering of humanity. We value and support this edition of DIHAD, for we can discuss fundamental issues through this platform related to energy and aid, and how we can benefit from available resources.”

Michael Koehler, Director-General, European Commission’s Department for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, explained in his speech how DIHAD 2023 is taking place at a time when many people across the world face dire living conditions. “103 million persons today are living in displacement. 2023 will set another record high of humanitarian needs, with 339 million people in need of assistance and protection. The UN estimates that $51.5 billion will be needed to meet the needs of the 230 million people most in need,” he said.

Another key speech during the opening was delivered by Ramesh Rajasingham, who spoke on behalf of Martin Griffiths, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. He praised the efforts of the UAE for its steadfast commitment to serving people in need and contributing more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance in the past three years alone.

After discussing the recent devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, Rajasingham said: “Never before has the global humanitarian system been stretched so thin. Events like DIHAD can help amplify the ideas of some of the world’s leading aid practitioners. Together, we are seeking new ways to drive innovation in our global humanitarian responses.”

DIHAD Conference and Exhibition is organised by INDEX Conference and Exhibitions, a member of INDEX Holding and supported by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, the Dubai Future Council on Humanitarian Aid, the Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment, the UAE Red Crescent Authority, the United Nations, and International Humanitarian City.

DIHAD 2023 is also supported by the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, Muslim World League, Al Mustafa Welfare Trust, MASHAV, IEC Telecom, and Life for Relief and Development, USA.