Abu Dhabi: The UAE marks the 10th death anniversary of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, on July 17. Shaikh Zayed was a man who gave to his country, and the world, without expecting anything in return and who translated every good thing he knew into action.
Zayed Humanitarian Day is held each year as an occasion to remember his humanitarianism and great achievements.
The initiative was launched by the UAE Cabinet to highlight the key role played by Shaikh Zayed in supporting global charitable events and his acts of goodness and kindness for future generations to appreciate and emulate.
UAE nationals deeply cherish the memories of Shaikh Zayed, as do people of different nationalities around the world who remember him for his extraordinary good deeds whose beneficial effects are being felt even today.
The sweep of Shaikh Zayed’s humanitarianism is vast and it has touched millions of lives. From launching housing projects for the needy to providing food and medicine for people suffering from poverty regardless of race, sex, language or religion, Zayed’s inclusiveness was all-encompassing.
History stands witness to his brilliant decisions, one of which was to pass a resolution to establish the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development in 1971, at a time when he was still laying the foundations of the UAE’s union.
Shaikh Zayed employed wisdom and unflinching hard work in building his nation, a task which came with many challenges. His vision and efforts took the UAE from a sparsely populated desert settlement to a nation with dizzying records of achievements and prosperity, enabling the UAE to be counted among the most dynamic countries in the world in a record time.
Shaikh Zayed believed that the country’s wealth from oil and gas should be devoted to assisting less fortunate countries and individuals. He expressed this very clearly when he declared: “We believe that the benefit of the fortune granted to us by God should spread to cover our brothers and friends.”
Shaikh Zayed’s successor, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has continued on the same path based on his conviction that “humanitarian diplomacy is one of the main pillars of our foreign policy, and our country will continue to support international efforts to respond to disasters and answer the call for relief”.
The Ministry of International Cooperation and Development produces an annual report, which gives a comprehensive analysis of UAE foreign assistance during the year. This report reveals that in 2012, around 43 UAE governmental and semi-governmental development, humanitarian and charity organisations, as well as the private sector and individuals disbursed Dh5.83 billion in the form of grants and loans to humanitarian and charitable programmes in 137 countries and territories, and committed Dh5.59 billion to development projects, causing the UAE to be ranked among the world’s most generous donors of foreign aid.
These funds were spent on a range of projects worldwide for improved access to education and health-care services, supported research, innovation and infrastructure development, and provided relief supplies during emergencies.
How nations around the globe have benefited from Zayed’s legacy
Pakistan: Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan bridge in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan helped connect 15 towns and 45 villages on either side of the Swat River.
Afghanistan: The UAE support for demining projects in Afghanistan has benefited 45,000 people by clearing the way for the construction and restoration of farms, roads, schools, clinics, irrigation channels and other infrastructure facilities.
Africa: The UAE joined global efforts to support health initiatives such as the elimination of guinea worm disease in Africa; the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) to increase access to immunisation in developing countries; and the Roll Back Malaria programme, an international partnership dedicated to combating the spread of the disease.
The report also records the generosity of the UAE’s private sector and individuals, as well as private contributions, that enabled the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) and other organisations to offer significant humanitarian relief assistance to countries in need.
Palestine: The UAE has a long history of assistance to refugees, especially Palestinian refugees, much of which has been provided through the auspices of the ERC, the fourth-largest donor of foreign aid from the UAE. Many of the ERC’s humanitarian, health and education projects in Palestine are executed in partnership with the UN refugee relief agency UNRWA. For example, in 2013, medical equipment and supplies worth Dh5.5 million were provided by the ERC to Al Aqsa Hospital in Ain Al Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, while $2.1 million was donated to support the construction of UNRWA’s Shu’fat Health Centre in occupied East Jerusalem. The UAE had also pledged $200,000 to the UN refugee agency’s 2013 budget.
Egypt: A major focus of UAE foreign assistance in 2013 has been to support Arab countries in need. In July, the UAE gave $3 billion to Egypt in the form of a $1 billion grant and a $2 billion interest-free loan.
The UAE has also been very active in assisting refugees fleeing from crises in the region, particularly from Syria, setting up camps in neighbouring countries to ease the suffering of the many victims of conflict.
Syria: The ERC has also been active on the broader Syrian front. One of its major challenges in 2013 was helping to set up the Emirates-Jordan Camp for Syrian refugees near Zarqa in Jordan. ERC is working closely with a number of international organisations to ensure that the camp will provide decent living conditions for the many families living there.
Global initiatives: In April 2013, the Higher Committee of Foreign Aid at the ERC allocated Dh4 million to carry out development projects in a number of countries, including Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Jordan, Pakistan, Senegal, Bosnia, Uganda, Benin, Thailand, Chad, Ghana, Lebanon, Libya and Mauritania. The assistance has covered health, education and social services, in addition to the provision of water supplies.
Other significant UAE relief programmes in 2013 include humanitarian assistance to the victims of tornados, earthquakes, and cyclones from the USA to Australia, as well as Madagascar, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Helping those in need was not only a primary duty for ERC but also for the Khalifa Bin Zayed Foundation (KBZF), which assisted less fortunate countries and individuals.
The Zayed Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works works continuously to fulfil the mission for which it was created by its founder Shaikh Zayed.
In a tribute to the founding father of the UAE, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, several activities and charity works will be launched across the UAE from Ramadan 19 onwards.
The General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments will hold an event on Thursday at 10pm at the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.