Abu Dhabi: The year 2017 will be the "Year of Giving" in the UAE, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has announced.

To ensure its success the focus will be on three major themes: strengthening social responsibility in the private sector, promoting spirit of volunteerism and specialised voluntary programmes in all segments of society, and strengthening the concept of serving the nation in the new generations.

Strengthening social responsibility in the private sector institutions is aimed at encouraging their role in serving the country and contributing to its development. The spirit of volunteerism and specialised voluntary programmes in all segments of society will enable them to provide genuine services to the UAE society and benefit from its competencies in all fields.

Strengthening the concept of the younger generations to serve the nation is one of the UAE’s most important personal characteristics as serving the nation guarantees developing love for the country, which has been ongoing for decades in the hearts of the people of the UAE, as well as within all expatriate residents.

The launch of ‘Year of Giving 2017’ follows the conclusion of 2016 as the Year of Reading.

“Choosing 2017 to be the Year of Giving reflects the UAE’s humanitarian approach since its establishment as well as providing aid for free,” Shaikh Khalifa said.

“The UAE is the country of giving and the Emiratis are carrying forward the humanitarian legacy of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. When people speak about achievements, we are proud of following the humanitarian approach of the late Shaikh Zayed, and when people speak about their history, we speak about the history of the humanitarian achievements since the establishment of the country,” Shaikh Khalifa said.

Pointing out the importance of enhancing the humanitarian concept in all segments of society, Shaikh Khalifa said, “The UAE has global accomplishments in the field of humanitarian aid and we seek to boost this culture as it represents one of the most important merits of the UAE’s personality and its institutions.’

“As far as we provide assistance, Allah the Almighty will increase blessings, stability, security, safety, peace of mind, and a dignified life for us,” he added.

In this regard, Shaikh Khalifa was keen to explain that the noblest image of humanitarian work is connected with serving the homeland and working continuously to develop and sacrifice for it.

“True citizenship does not mean to take always but also means sacrificing precious things for the sake of the homeland,” he explained, adding, “Serving the homeland and the society is a joint responsibility between the government, individuals and private sector, and the UAE will always be one team.”

The president also pointed out the importance of a voluntary culture as an indicator of the development of the society, saying, “Our goal is to instil the culture of voluntary service and serving the society as a higher value in our institutions and in our citizens.”

The legacy of the late Shaikh Zayed who defined the pillars of humanitarian work is one of the UAE’s main principles, he said, adding, “One of the most important values that we should to instill in our people are his legacies and values.”

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has directed immediate implementation of the directives of the president.

This is to be accomplished through the setting up of an overall framework to activate the ‘Year of Giving’ by identifying the objectives, drafting federal and local initiatives, unification of volunteer work in all its forms, and efforts to strengthen the culture of social responsibility in order to involve individuals and institutions from the public and private sectors in the development of the UAE.

He also said that the initiatives and programmes of the Year of Giving will mainly target the private sector as a key partner in the development process through enhancing the concept of social responsibility in all institutions.

“The year 2017 will be the year of partnership with the private sector to offer something exceptional to the community and contribute effectively to the march of development of our country,” he affirmed.

Shaikh Mohammad stressed the importance of concerted efforts in this area by saying, “Our goal is to let individuals, private sector and government departments work in co-ordination and integration to achieve better development of the UAE society.”

The ‘Year of Giving’ is dedicated to work for the benefit of the Emiratis, the homeland and enhances the humanitarian values in individuals and institutions in society for free as the UAE has provided us everything for free, he pointed out.

Shaikh Mohammad confirmed that designating a year to celebrate and spread humanitarian work enhances the prestige of the country globally as one of the biggest donors.

“Shaikh Khalifa and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have positioned the UAE to be number one globally on humanitarian indicators as they are the role models of the Emirati generations.”

“The UAE was established on the pillars of loving charitable and humanitarian work and we seek to instil this culture in our citizens,” he added.

“The sons of the late Shaikh Zayed are educated, open and ambitious and the best and noble values were instilled in them,” Shaikh Mohammad re-affirmed, adding, “Love of humanitarian work and serving people for free represent happiness, and all that we seek is happiness for our people.”

Regarding the importance of assigning a year for Giving , Shaikh Mohammad said, “The Year of Giving is a message of love, tolerance and development conveyed by the UAE leadership and people to the region and the world. Civilised nations are nations whose individuals support one another and everyone works for the benefit of the nation.”