UAE donated $540m for humanitarian relief for Syrians, making it the top donor to foreign aid in the world. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE has provided Dh32.34 billion ($8.8 billion) in foreign aid during 2015, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

In its report titled ‘UAE’s Foreign Aid in 2015’, which was issued on Saturday, the ministry said that the provision of financial aid to support humanitarian and development projects in various friendly countries is in line with the defining principles of the UAE ever since it came into being.

The UAE has increased its foreign aid in various humanitarian, charitable and developmental endeavours to ensure an improvement in the living standards of individuals and the needy segments regardless of their race, identity, language or religion, given the country’s firm belief in the role aid plays to enhance international peace and stability through the eradication of poverty.

“The UAE considers provision of aid as a humane duty and within the framework of a number of key values and principles on which the UAE’s vision was based, as they were related to our Arab and Islamic values and approaches instilled by the founder of the country, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said in his message at the beginning of the report.

Foreign aid was provided under the broad classifications of development, humanitarian and charitable aid. Development aid was worth Dh29.75 billion, representing about 92 per cent of the total, as against Dh19.55 billion in 2014.

Humanitarian aid added up to Dh2.16 billion, representing 6.68 per cent of the total figure. Charitable aid stood at Dh429.1 million, representing 1.33 per cent of the total.

The official development assistance in 2015 stood at Dh16.64 billion, representing 51.45 per cent of the total aid, the report said.

“The UAE, through provision of foreign aid and its efforts to achieve international development co-operation, has managed areas of priority including humanitarian assistance, elimination of poverty, and support for children, and global sectorial programmes such as transportation, infrastructure, as well as supporting governments and empowerment of women,” said Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation.

The report also highlights the UAE’s unwavering commitment to helping millions of people around the world in the most vulnerable communities and segments enduring extreme hardship. Among the most prominent instances of humanitarian aid extended during the year was the allocation made for refugees and internally displaced people affected by crises and conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Aid was also provided for the construction of roads, bridges, and infrastructure, notably in renewable energy projects, in addition to multi-year commitments targeting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The report also stated that the UAE allocated about 31.52 per cent of total aid, or Dh10.19 billion, as grants to recipient countries, while loans touched 68.48 per cent, amounting to Dh22.14 billion. Such aid is aimed at strengthening and upgrading development projects in recipient countries.

The report quoted the Development Aid Committee (DAC) as saying that, in terms of official development aid, 51.75 per cent was in the form of grants valued at Dh8.61 billion, while 48.5 per cent was in the form of loans valued at Dh8.03 million.

According to geographical distribution, countries in Africa received the lion’s share of aid at Dh25.11 billion, compared with Dh14.67 billion in 2014. Asian countries received Dh6.63 billion, whereas countries in Europe, North and South America, Oceania and other regions received Dh586.94 million in aid.

The report pointed to the diversity of the UAE’s donors in 2015, where government aid was ranked first at 86.1 per cent of total contributions with a value of Dh27.84 billion (around $7.57 billion). The aid provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development was ranked second at Dh2.70 billion (around $736.73 million).

The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation provided aid to the tune of Dh568.32 (around $154.73) million, representing 1.76 per cent of the total aid, while the Emirates Red Crescent provided Dh380.42 million (about $103.57 million) of aid, representing about 1.18 per cent of the total.

In its report, the ministry also stressed that the UAE’s foreign aid was in line with the country’s policy of supporting the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The country’s contribution towards achieving these goals in 2015 was Dh31.87 billion ($8.67 billion).

The UAE provided some Dh21.15 billion towards achieving the first goal of the MDGs of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty, the report noted.

The UAE also allocated Dh8.86 billion towards establishing a global partnership for development while Dh1.45 billion was allocated to achieve the goal of environmental sustainability.

The report said that the UAE achieved most of its commitments towards the development goals for last year and is currently involved in efforts aimed at achieving other targets for the future.