Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed and Sheikh Ahmad bin Mohammed at the meeting. Image Credit: Twitter

• MBRGI’s humanitarian, social and developmental initiatives touched 83 million lives in 82 countries in 2020

• Dh1.2 billion spent on humanitarian, social and developmental projects in 2020

• Spending on Humanitarian Aid & Relief projects totalled Dh382 million in 2020, an Dh120 million increase from 2019

• Beneficiaries of MBRGI’s Humanitarian Aid & Relief doubled in 2020, reaching 34.8 million people, up from 17 million people in 2019

• Spending on Healthcare & Disease Control programmes totalled Dh49.6 million during 2020, benefiting over 38,000 people

• Spending on Spreading Education and Knowledge initiatives amounted to Dh265 million, touching 45.5 million lives in 2020

• The Innovation and Entrepreneurship pillar saw 2020 spending on various initiatives and projects reach Dh440 million, impacting 1.3 million beneficiaries

• Empowering Communities projects and initiatives reached Dh79.5 million during 2020, benefiting 1.1 million people

Dubai: More than 83 million people in 82 countries benefited from Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives’ (MBRGI) humanitarian and social projects in 2020, the foundation’s annual report has revealed.

Amid the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, MBRGI, the region’s largest philanthropic foundation, carried out Dh1.2 billion worth of humanitarian, social and developmental projects to aid the vulnerable and empower disadvantaged communities in the face of the biggest health crisis of the century.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the Year in Review 2020 in a special event, held at The Union House in Dubai, to highlight the far-reaching influence of MBRGI’s initiatives and activities during 2020.

Sheikh Mohammed said, “The global COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that strategic and sustainable humanitarian work is the best way to serve people in times of crisis. Despite the obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, our projects and initiatives rose to the challenge and, in line with our expectations and ambitions, touched over 83 million lives in 82 countries. Besides its influential economic and political role, the UAE is also a humanitarian entity and a beacon of hope in the region.”

Praising the team’s efforts, Sheikh Mohammed said, “Over 121,000 volunteers and personnel showed competence, courage and determination in the face of the pandemic.” He stressed that “we will continue creating hope across the world, regardless of any circumstances. We will heed the call of humanity wherever it takes us.”

He concluded, “As we continue our work every year, our determination to fulfil our vision grows stronger. We attract more partners and serve more people, and our conviction that humanitarian work is essential to reigniting civilisation burns brighter.”

COVID-19 Response

During the event, Sheikh Mohammed reviewed the key achievements of MBRGI’s 35 entities in 2020. He also reviewed the latest campaigns, programmes and initiatives that were launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He praised the pivotal role played by the International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai as a hub for transporting urgent aid, medical supplies and essential food items to various parts of the world in collaboration with UN agencies and non-governmental organisations. Through its efforts, the IHC helped place the UAE at the forefront of urgent relief work during the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheikh Mohammed also reviewed The Digital School initiative — a first-of-its-kind educational technology (ed-tech) in the Arab world. The School was launched by MBRGI in November 2020 to provide millions of students around the world with access to world-class education, using smart technologies to address the global educational disruption caused by COVID-19.

On the sidelines, Sheikh Mohammed chaired a meeting of MBRGI’s Board of Trustees that included Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MBRGI; Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Member of the Board of Trustees of MBRGI; Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation and Member of the Board of Trustees of MBRGI; Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Member of the Board of Trustees of MBRGI; and Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Secretary-General of MBRGI, as well as a number of members of the Board of Trustees and executive directors of MBRGI.

Honouring Major Donors to ‘100 Million Meals’

During the event, Sheikh Mohammed honoured major contributors and donors to the ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign, the region’s biggest food drive, launched to provide food aid to disadvantaged communities in 30 countries across the four continents of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America during the holy month of Ramadan.

The key contributors, recognised for their pioneering role in supporting the campaign to achieve its goals of raising Dh100 million in just 10 days from its launch, were Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment (MBRCH), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai (RTA), Dar Al Bar Society, Al Rostamani Group, Emirates Islamic Bank, Etisalat, Emirates Auctions, and Dr. Abdulkader Al Sankari and his sons.

Effective Humanitarian Impact

Sheikh Hamdan said, “the MBRGI extended a helping hand from the UAE to the rest of the world. Its ongoing efforts have affirmed that what others may see as a challenge, the Foundation sees as an opportunity to achieve more, improve people’s lives and build stable societies.”

He added, “MBRGI played an effective humanitarian role globally in 2020. It dedicated its resources, expertise and capabilities to enable international organisations and agencies to deliver food and medical aid to the vulnerable, no matter where they are.”

Sheikh Hamdan stressed that “MBRGI’s programmes and projects are key drivers to the broader humanitarian and relief work of the UAE on regional and international scales.”

He praised the efforts of MBRGI’s teams and volunteers whose innovative ideas during the first weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak contributed to the Foundation’s swift response to help millions in need across the world, despite the world lockdowns and field restrictions.

Sustaining hope

Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Secretary-General of MBRGI, said, “The year 2020 was exceptional by all standards in the major challenges that emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In return, it was met with a wave of innovation in creating hope, which is the only investment with guaranteed returns.”

He added, “Despite the precautionary measures and the abrupt shifts in the nature of humanitarian work, MBRGI cemented its pioneering role in creating new bridges between nations, establishing solidarity, supporting vulnerable communities and aiding millions of people in need across the world.”

Al Gergawi noted that MBRGI is a major pillar of the UAE’s humanitarian, relief, social and humanitarian work, following the country’s vision to institutionalise philanthropy. “The UAE, under the direction and guidance of its leadership, will continue its pivotal role in charity and humanitarian work to help provide relief to the vulnerable, empower people in need and answer the call of humanity,” he said.

Greater reach

Despite the logistical and technical obstacles posed globally by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, MBRGI reached more beneficiaries than in previous years.


MBRGI spent Dh1.2 billion on the projects, programmes and campaigns under its umbrella, touching 83 million lives across 82 countries, compared to 71 million beneficiaries in 2019.

In 2020, 576 employees joined hands with 121,676 volunteers working in beneficiary countries with varying areas of expertise to carry out various humanitarian and developmental programmes and projects.

The MBRGI’s 35 entities implement hundreds of initiatives, campaigns and projects across five main pillars: Humanitarian Aid & Relief, Healthcare & Disease Control, Spreading Education & Knowledge, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and Empowering Communities.

Humanitarian Aid and Relief

The MBRGI carried out Humanitarian Aid & Relief programmes and projects worth Dh382 million in 2020 — an increase of Dh120 million from 2019, when it offered Dh262 million aid projects. The number of beneficiaries of Humanitarian Aid and Relief programmes doubled, reaching 34.8 million people in 2020, compared to 17 million in 2019.


Under the umbrella of MBRGI, the Humanitarian Aid and Relief pillar includes the International Humanitarian City, the UAE Food Bank, the Mohammed bin Rashid Humanitarian and Charity Establishment (MBRCH), the UAE Water Aid Foundation (Suqia UAE), and the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Centre for Endowment Consultancy.

Under the Humanitarian Aid and Relief pillar, the ‘10 Million Meals’ campaign, the largest community campaign of its kind, launched in Ramadan 2020, provided the equivalent of 15.3 million meals to COVID-19-hit individuals and families across the UAE, with the help of 130,000 donors and 1,000 volunteers.

The World’s Tallest Donation Box initiative was launched to support the ’10 Million Meals’ campaign to encourage people across the UAE to donate as little as Dh10 to provide one meal for those in need. For every Dh10 donated, one pixel on Burj Khalifa was lit, gradually illuminating the 1.2 million lights on the facade of the world’s tallest building, one at a time, in a message of hope and solidarity to the world amid the global pandemic.

Within one week, the World’s Tallest Donation Box raised Dh12 million, equivalent to 1.2 million meals, from 8,500 donors from 111 nationalities.

The UAE Food Bank distributed 9,086 tonnes of food during 2020 to provide a safety net for those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic across the UAE. It also organised an awareness campaign for 250,000 labourers to raise awareness of the importance of food safety and hygiene at a time of a public health crisis.

The MBRCH’s programmes and initiatives reached 2.1 million people across Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Senegal, Uganda, and Ghana in 2020.

The IHC, which hosts a community of 80 members from UN organisations, non-profits and non-governmental organisations, airlifted urgent aid supplies that supported more than 1.1 million people affected by COVID-19 and natural disasters in 2020.

Suqia UAE implemented 38 water projects in 2020 that benefited 182,000 people.

The Mohammed bin Rashid International Centre for Endowment Consultancy launched the Dh23 million National Endowment Project to combat COVID-19 in 2020.

Healthcare and disease control

Spending on Healthcare and Disease Control programmes and projects amounted to Dh49.6 million in 2020, benefiting 38,000 people. The Healthcare and Disease Control pillar comprises Al Jalila Foundation, dedicated to transforming lives through medical innovation, and Noor Dubai, which works to improve the level of health care systems to create a world free from avoidable causes of blindness.


Al Jalila Foundation witnessed the launch of the Dh300 million Mohammed bin Rashid Medical Research Institute, the first independent biomedical research centre in the UAE, by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in August 2020. The centre strives to strives develop a team of specialised researchers and establish advanced and tech-driven research tools to proactively monitor potential outbreaks. It also aims to respond to the urgent need for in-depth research into the fields of biomedicine, preventive medicine and epidemiology, prompted by the global health crisis that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused.

Al Jalila Foundation organised the A’awen campaign during Ramadan 2020 in cooperation with 14 partnering entities to fund treatment for UAE residents with life-threatening diseases and raise awareness of healthy eating and preventive measures for the pandemic.

In addition, the Al Jalila Foundation continued to organise the Ta’alouf programme to support parents and teachers of children of determination. In its sixth edition, the programme trained 73 teachers and school principals and benefited 7,600 students. It also provided research and study grants totalling Dh7 million during 2020.

Among Al Jalila Foundation’s 2020 initiatives is the ‘Bassmat Rashid Bin Saeed’ initiative that raised over Dh22.5 million in donations from 107 individuals and institutions with aims to advance medical research in the UAE.

As for the Noor Dubai, it continued its work providing eye care to those most in need, reaching 11,564 people in Ethiopia who, in 2020, benefited from the ‘Trachoma Elimination Programme’. It also resumed the Katsina comprehensive eye care program that provides free surgeries to more than 11,000 people, free eye examinations for 363,000 people and school students, alongside educating more than two million health and community care providers in Nigeria.

Noor Dubai also organised a mobile eye camp in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in 2020 which benefited 3,900 people, including 500 who underwent a cataract surgery. It also educated children and students about the precautionary and preventive measures necessary to combat COVID-19.

The year 2020 witnessed the completion of the first phase of the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre project in Cairo, with the support of Dh88 million raised from donations through the Arab Hope Makers grand ceremony. Once complete, the centre will perform 12,000 free-of-charge heart surgeries annually, 60 per cent of which will target children.

Spreading education and knowledge

MBRGI invested in Dh265 million worth of programmes, initiatives and projects in the Spreading Education and Knowledge pillar, benefiting 45.5 million people in 2020.


The Spreading Education and Knowledge pillar comprises: Dubai Cares, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF), the Knowledge Summit, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Arabic Language Award, the Arab Reading Challenge, the Madrasa e-Learning Platform, and the Digital School.

Dubai Cares added 15 new programmes in 2020, bringing the total number of its programmes up to 227 since its inception that collectively benefit over 20 million beneficiaries in 60 developing countries. The new programmes covered a diverse range of vital areas including early childhood education, literacy and numeracy, education in emergencies, girls’ education, tertiary education, infrastructure and nutrition, and teacher training.

The year 2020 also witnessed the inclusion of Dubai Cares among the members of the United Nations Department of Global Communications’ Civil Society Association Committee, and its joining of the Unesco Global Education Coalition for COVID-19 Response. It has also invested in building schools and developing literacy skills in Nepal, Cambodia and Senegal.

Dubai Cares also pledged Dh18.5 million towards global advocacy efforts including its support to the ‘Giga’ initiative, launched by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to connect every school around the world to the internet.

Dubai Cares also launched the Humanity Inspired in collaboration with international artist Sacha Jafri, UNICEF, Unesco and the Global Gift Foundation to ensure minimal disruption to education globally. Through the initiative, Jafri painted the ‘The Journey of Humanity’ that broke Guinness World Records as the ‘Largest Art Canvas’ and was sold for Dh227.8 million. Proceeds went to support the programs of the four institutions participating in the initiative.

Furthermore, Dubai Cares provided 40,000 computers as part of its national ‘Education Uninterrupted’ campaign, and organised ongoing education programs and projects in Senegal and Tanzania, benefiting 50,000 students.

The MBRF held the ‘KnowTalks’ webinar series, which attracted 5,559 online attendees to discuss the role of knowledge in facing epidemics. The Foundation’s ‘Digital Knowledge Hub’, which includes more than 300,000 books and more than 3.5 million digital items, has reached 252,000 beneficiaries during 2020.

The MBRF’s ‘Bil Arabi’ initiative continued to promote the use of the Arabic language, with the number of #BilArabi hashtag reaching 3.5 billion views, while its ‘Dubai International Programme for Writing’ saw the graduation of 54 young writers who honed their creative writing skills in 2020.

The Mohammed bin Rashid School of Communication Scholarship, offered by MBRF, benefited 66 students across the Arab world. In the Spreading Education and Knowledge pillar, the Arab Reading Challenge achieved a record participation of 21 million participants from 52 countries in its fifth edition, while 96,000 schools from the Arab world competed for the ‘Best School’ award.

In conjunction with the World Arabic Language Day in 2020, the Madrasa e-Learning platform completed the development of its Arabic curriculum, which launched in 2019. It includes 1,000 educational videos targeted at all school levels.

Madrasa also launched the ‘Be Aware’ campaign, in partnership with UNICEF, Unesco and ISESCO, to educate children about the dangers of COVID-19 through a series of Arabic language animated educational videos.

In response to the pandemic that forcibly and radically shifted learning patterns, MBRGI launched the first comprehensive Digital School in the Arab region. It aims to provide quality education to students wherever they are in the world and promote self-learning in flexible and smart ways.

Valuable collections and books were added to the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library, which is preparing to open its doors soon after the completion of its rich diversity of millions of print, digital and audio titles in various languages. Precious early Arabic works by renowned Arab and Muslim scholars, such as Ibn Al-Haytham, Al-Zahrawi, Ibn Sina, Al-Razi and others were also added to its list.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship pillar received the highest investments allocated by MBRGI in 2020, with the volume of spending on various initiatives and projects reaching Dh440 million, from which 1.3 million people benefited.


The Innovation and Entrepreneurship pillar includes the Museum of the Future, the One Million Arab Coders initiative, the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development (Dubai SME), the Mohammed bin Rashid Award for Young Business Leaders, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award.

The Dubai SME provided a comprehensive package of incentives and facilities worth Dh192 million in 2020, benefiting 3,563 Emirati entrepreneurs.

During 2020, the Hamdan Innovation Incubator’ (Hi2), an affiliate of Dubai SME, provided business incubation services, bringing the number of beneficiary start-ups to 654 since its inception.

The year 2020 also saw the installation of the final piece on the façade of the Museum of the Future, an iconic landmark which sits at the bustling heart of Dubai. Once complete, it will act as an incubator for innovations and emerging technologies.

MBRGI launched ‘Global Coder’ initiative in 2020 as the largest training initiative of its kind to provide free accredited distance learning courses in coding to five million young people in 50 countries.

In 2020, the Dubai Future Foundation launched One Million Arab Coders’ COVID-19 Hackathon to engage Arab programmes from around the world in developing solutions to the challenges facing the health care sector amid the pandemic, with prizes totalling Dh184,000.

During 2020, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award continued to recognise outstanding partnerships in the UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council and organised a series of webinars amid the COVID-19 restrictions.

In its third cycle, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award expanded its scope to include new technologies that produce, distribute, store, monitor, desalinate and purify water using renewable energies. In 2020, the new category ‘Innovative Crisis Solutions Award’ was also introduced to recognise innovations that can provide water relief during declared emergency situations.

Empowering communities

Spending on Empowering Communities initiatives and programmes totalled Dh79.5 million in 2020, benefiting 1.1 million people worldwide.


The Empowering Communities pillar comprises: the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, the International Institute for Tolerance, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Tolerance Award, the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, the Arab Media Forum, the Arab Journalism Award, Arab Social Media Influencers Summit and Award, Dubai International Sports Conference, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, Arab Strategy Forum, Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Leadership Development, and the Arab Hope Makers initiative.

In 2020, the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Leadership Development celebrated the graduation of the third cohort of 28 participants in the ‘Influential Leaders Program’ to train aspiring Emirati leaders. In addition, the first cohort of 30 participants graduated from the ‘Global Secondment Programme for Emirati Leaders’, which prepares Emiratis for top-level leadership positions.

By 2020, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum School of Government continued to support students with outstanding academic and professional records. In 2020, the School awarded academic scholarships to 71 students to pursue a Master’s degree under the ‘Future Government Programmes’.

The school’s international events recorded a distinguished virtual attendance, with 1,223 participants watching the UAE Public Policy Forum and 1,918 people following the activities of the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research. The School’s scholarships and fellowship programs reached 86 people.

With aims to empower youth and adolescent to pursue their dreams, the Real Madrid Social Sports Academies in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Uzbekistan, enrolled 530 trainees across all ages in 2020 to practice their football passion. The academies are an outcome of a partnership between MBRGI and the Real Madrid Foundation.

The Dubai Sports Council also held the Dubai International Sports Conference 2020, hosting 200 attendees under the theme ‘Football at the Top’. A special edition of the annual ‘Globe Soccer Awards’ was held on the sidelines of the Conference, recognising the performance of legendary players, coaches, clubs and agents between 2001 and 2020 in a unique series that highlighted the Best of the 21st century.

In February 2020, the Hope Makers Development Programme was launched in cooperation between MBRGI, the Dubai Future Council on Humanitarian Aid, and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Leadership Development to train national leaders who will shape the future of humanitarian work and establish the UAE’s pioneering status in the field.

The virtual sessions of the 19th edition of the Arab Media Forum, held under the slogan ‘Arab Media: the Future is Digital’, attracted over 3,000 prominent Arab and international media experts and thought leaders from around the world.

In its 19th session, Arab Journalism Award honoured 13 winners in 11 categories, selected from 5,874 candidates. The winners represented daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, online web portals and media organisations from 43 countries in the Arab world and beyond.

In 2020, the International Institute for Tolerance launched several events to support communities at home and abroad to face the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘United in Hope’ campaign distributed meals daily during Ramadan in cooperation with the Dubai Health Authority, while an event at the ‘Crossroads of Civilisations Museum’ highlighted positive principles of cultural cooperation to preserve historical and religious heritage and promote interfaith dialogue.

The International Institute for Tolerance also held an interactive panel on social media about the causes of bullying and ways to protect children, attracting 22,000 online viewers.

The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding reached 450,000 people in 2020 through diverse virtual programs and some field trips organised to enhance dialogue and cultural understanding.

The Middle East Exchange attracted 20 million views per month in 2020, receiving a wider reach and greater demand, especially among young people after its shift to the digital space in light of the global pandemic.


On the sidelines, Sheikh Mohammed chaired a meeting of MBRGI’s Board of Trustees that included Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of MBRGI; Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation and Member of the Board of Trustees of MBRGI; Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Member of the Board of Trustees of MBRGI; Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group, and Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Secretary-General of MBRGI, as well as a number of members of the Board of Trustees and executive directors of MBRGI.

Sustained Humanitarian Work

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives was established in 2015 as an umbrella of 35 charity and humanitarian institutions sponsored by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for decades. The Foundation aims to institutionalise humanitarian and community work, and build a sustainable system across its five main pillars. Its initiatives and campaigns are devoted to investing in human capabilities, empowering youth through culture and knowledge, meeting the basic needs of communities, and devising new innovative solutions to challenges. Through its sustainable and institutionalised work, the Foundation strives to contribute to promoting peace and stability and instilling a culture of hope as a driving force for positive change to shape future of humanitarian work in the world.