Logo of the renamed entity 'Dubai Humanitarian' revealed on April 22, 2024
Logo of the renamed entity 'Dubai Humanitarian' revealed during the Global Humanitarian Meeting in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: A new centre aimed at preparing local communities for emergency response by focusing on sustainable humanitarian action will open in Dubai within days.

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The Knowledge and Development Centre will open in the premises of the world’s largest humanitarian hub International Humanitarian City (IHC), which was renamed as ‘Dubai Humanitarian’ on Monday.

Team Dubai Humanitarian poses for a group picture after the Global Humanitarian Meeting in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

The centre was announced as part of the new projects under the rebranded hub that aims to boost global aid with partners, particularly the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

Established within Dubai Humanitarian’s warehouse compound, the new facility signifies a commitment to knowledge sharing and capacity building in the humanitarian sector, it was announced during the ‘Global Humanitarian Meeting’ attended by more than 250 stakeholders and representatives of partner humanitarian hubs.

This space will serve as a hub for various activities aimed at enhancing the skills and expertise of humanitarian workers, ultimately improving their effectiveness in delivering aid.

Purpose and goals

Revealing more details to Gulf News, Giuseppe Saba, CEO of Dubai Humanitarian, said the centre was ready for its opening next Friday.

“It will be a Centre of Excellence focusing on more sustainable humanitarian action,” he said.

Giuseppe Saba, CEO of Dubai Humanitarian, addressing the gathering Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter

According to him, it will serve as a hub for academia, private sector, and humanitarian communities to exchange knowledge and develop courses on logistics and humanitarian aid and prepare the local communities for emergency response.

“It will be an innovation centre. Let me say that we are creating the best of the conditions in order to set up a neutral zone where all parties can discuss together and can bring innovation together…and of course, share information, knowledge and best practices, and prepare the future humanitarian action.”

Operations and courses

Saba said the facility will directly get into operation without any formal opening ceremony. However, it will organise a conference in November to explore how to apply existing innovation to the humanitarian field.

“That’s going to be the topic and we are going to sit together with the academia, the private sector, as well as with the humanitarian community.”

The centre will then offer dedicated courses focused on health logistics and humanitarian logistics. “Those are going to be the first courses… It is because we have experienced an exponential growth of repositioning the health stocks that are needed during an emergency,” said Saba.

The courses aim to attract the youth into humanitarian activities with expert knowledge in the subject.

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Recognising rain volunteers

The UAE’s response to last week’s record rainfall highlighted the role of volunteerism in emergency situations. While the participants at the Global Humanitarian Meeting took a moment to appreciate and applaud the efforts of Dubai authorities in getting the city back on its feet in record time, Saba also appreciated the role of volunteers in relief efforts, despite facing challenges. He suggested that they should be recognised for their selfless acts.

While the new courses would motivate more youths from the UAE into humanitarian activities, a similar component in the WFP’s future projects would also do the same.

Dubai fund for WFP

Alex Marianelli, director, Global Supply Chain Support Centre of WFP, said the UN agency aims to scale up its global programme and supply chain operations with direct support from the Dubai government.

“It’s about logistics. It’s about partnership, and it’s also about recruiting and engaging young Emiratis and giving them exposure to humanitarian aid,” Marianelli told Gulf News.

Alex Marianelli (left), Giuseppe Saba (extreme right), and other panelists at the Global Humanitarian Meeting in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: WAM

He revealed that the Dubai government had last year announced a three-year funding for WFP.

“It’s three years of funding with $7.5million per year. It’s really a statement from the Government of Dubai and from Dubai Humanitarian that it is a long term engagement and its funding for us to enable the growth of that structure and to use the UAE in a far more meaningful, potent way over many years.”

He said 70 per cent of WFP’s emergency work already comes from Dubai and the new funding will mean “a more efficient response, which means more and faster aid.”

2 decades of growth

Saba also highlighted the support from the Dubai Government for the IHC. “We could not have done all that we have done without the support of the Dubai government in the past 20 years. I am extremely confident that we will continue to get that support.”

Over the past 20 years, he said, the humanitarian hub dispatched aid to 135 countries. The latest figures show that the hub sent out 1200 shipments carrying humanitarian aid worth over $40 million per year.

From a 30,000sqm facility behind Burj Khalifa, it expanded to a 140,000 square metres hub in Dubai Industrial City. The humanitarian aid stock of the IHC also has increased significantly from millions to close to 190 million, he said.

To enhance humanitarian operations, a Global Safety Net that aims at strengthening collaboration among hosting nations’ humanitarian hubs was also announced. It will be done through the Humanitarian Logistics Databank for improved resource management, enhancing emergency preparedness and sustainability in aid delivery worldwide.

As the only non-profit, independent, humanitarian free-zone Authority, Dubai Humanitarian is home to a diverse community of approximately 80 members. This community comprises international entities such as UN organisations, non-profits, non-governmental organisations, and commercial companies, collectively working to advance humanitarian and development efforts worldwide.

Global leader

Meanwhile, the IHC’s transformation into Dubai Humanitarian is said to solidify the humanitarian hub’s position as a global leader in humanitarian endeavours, reflecting a renewed commitment to serving humanity and fostering sustainable development.

Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, Chairman of Dubai Humanitarian, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in our humanitarian journey. As we unveil Dubai Humanitarian, we embark on a new era, extending our hands in aid across global borders for the benefit of humankind."

Abdulla Al Shaibani (second from right), Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani (second from left) among the audience at the Global Humanitarian Meeting in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: WAM

He added: "Our commitment goes beyond mere assistance; it’s about forging partnerships, leveraging innovation, and amplifying impact. With a growing number of simultaneous crises and operations, and given our dedication to sustainability, we stand poised to serve humanity with greater efficiency and efficacy. Together, let us write a new chapter of hope and resilience as Dubai Humanitarian leads the way in helping build a much-needed better tomorrow for our world.”

In his opening address, Abdulla Al Shaibani, Board Member of Dubai Humanitarian, reflected on the journey and achievements of the past two decades, emphasising the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, and the transformative impact of Dubai’s humanitarian initiatives on a global scale.

The event featured a compelling panel with prominent figures in the humanitarian field along with Saba and Marianelli. They included Rick Brennan, Regional Emergency Director for the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO EMRO); Dr. Enrique Steiger, Board Member and Swisscross Founder and Chair; Dr Gustavo Antonio Montero, University Professor and Former Director at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.