Emirates Red Crescent volunteers distributing aid to Syrian refugees living in camps on the Syria-Jordan border. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: The UAE spends more on aid to develop other countries than any other nation on earth compared to its wealth, states a new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report.

Data published on Tuesday by the Paris-based organisation, which has a membership of 35 developed countries, noted that the UAE spent Dh15.23 billion worth of development assistance in 2016.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, hailed the news.

“The UAE does not provide conditional assistance and neither does for the sake of reciprocal interests. It does so only for the good and stability of all peoples,” the Vice-President said on Twitter.

The OECD announcement coincides with the UAE’s Year of Giving, which sees the Emirati people launch new charitable initiatives every day, Shaikh Mohammad said.

Shaikh Mohammad tweeted: “The announcement of the UAE being ranked first development assistance donor in 2016 coincides with the UAE’s Year of Giving during which the Emirati people launch new charitable initiatives every day.

“The new achievement would not have been possible without the guidance and support by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces,” he said.

Last year, international aid contributions of 29 countries that are members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average 0.32 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI).

GNI is the sum of the total domestic and foreign output claimed by residents of a country.

This figure is slightly up from 0.30 per cent in 2015.

In contrast, the UAE gave more than three times that average over the same time frame — donating 1.12 per cent of its GNI in foreign aid.

The UAE reports its aid flows to the OECD even though it is not a member.

Within the OECD’s member nations, the most generous country in proportion to its national wealth was Norway.

The oil-rich Scandinavian country gave 1.11 per cent of its GNI in foreign aid last year, followed by Luxembourg, at 1 per cent, and Sweden, at 0.94 per cent.

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the UAE has become a role model for humanitarian assistance.

The UAE is among the top donors for the fourth year and the first globally for the third successive year.

Last year saw the continuation of providing aid to Africa, which received Dh8.95 billion of the UAE’s total development assistance — around 54 per cent.

Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, praised the directives and guidance of the UAE’s leaders in providing humanitarian aid to people and countries in need worldwide.

She added that this policy was a result of the humanitarian vision of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, one of the country’s founding fathers.


Why has aid to poor countries dropped?

Although rich countries gave more aid in 2016 compared to the year before, flows to the world’s poorest countries dropped.

“A rise in aid spent on refugees in donor countries boosted the total — but even stripping out refugee costs, aid rose 7.1 per cent,” the report noted.

“Despite this progress, the 2016 data show that bilateral (country-to-country) aid to the least-developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in real terms from 2015 and aid to Africa fell 0.5 per cent.”

The OECD said that some Development Assistance Committee members had “backtracked on a commitment to reverse past declines in flows to the poorest countries”.

The Paris-based think tank said donor countries should use their aid budget first and foremost in development projects in poor nations — instead of spending it on refugees at home.

An official for UK-based charity Oxfam International said while rich countries are obliged to host migrants and refugees fleeing conflicts, it should not be considered aid and development work.

“Rich countries are misleading the public. They are rebranding as ‘aid’ the money they’re spending to process asylum claims or to pay off others to clamp down on migration,” Natalia Alonso said in a statement to Reuters.

Last year, Germany joined five other OECD countries — Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom — in meeting a United Nations target to keep development aid at or above 0.7 per cent of GNI.

Overall, development aid in 2016 reached a new peak of $142.6 billion — around Dh524 billion — an 8.9 per cent increase from 2015 after adjusting for exchange rates and inflation.



Timeline: Recent UAE aid highlights

March 23, 2017: The aid presented by Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) to Yemen from April 2015 to March 2017 is valued at Dh7.3 billion ($1.98 billion).

January 14, 2017: The UAE’s renewable energy development aid offered across the globe has reached more than $900 million (Dh3.3 billion).

December 17, 2016: The UAE provided Dh32.34 billion ($8.8 billion) in foreign aid during 2015.

October 02, 2016: The UAE has announced the allocation of $50 million (Dh184 million) to support the stability and reconstruction of Mosul after its expected liberation from Daesh.

September 30, 2016: The UAE has pledged to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Yemen, to the tune of $1.2 billion.

September 18, 2016: An aircraft carries more than 100 tonnes of relief supplies from the UAE to Entebbe, Uganda to provide assistance to refugees from South Sudan.

May 24, 2016: The UAE announced that it will increase its financial support for humanitarian aid to 15 per cent of its annual budget, over the next four years. The UAE has been steadily increasing its foreign aid, with its assistance between 1971 and 2014 adding up to Dh173 billion that has benefited 178 countries.

April 22, 2016: The UAE has pledged to provide $4 billion (Dh14.7 billion) in aid for Egypt to prop up its economy.

March 30, 2016: A plane carrying more than 30 tonnes of relief supplies provided by the Emirates Red Crescent was flown to Benghazi, Libya.

January 05, 2016: The UAE continued to be the world’s top donor of development aid for the second consecutive year, a report said. The Dh18.36 billion worth of assistance extended in 2014 constituted 1.26 per cent of the UAE’s gross national income.

November 08, 2015: Emirates Red Crescent has expanded its relief operations and humanitarian projects in regions of Yemen which have been liberated from Al Houthi control. More than 141,968 families benefited from such programmes in Taiz, Lahj, Abyan, Shabwa, Aden, Bab Al Mandab and Al Subaiha areas.

November 02, 2015: Emirates Red Crescent announced plans to spend around Dh400 million on rebuilding Yemen’s electricity, sanitation, health and water infrastructure.

October 20, 2015: A monthlong campaign launched in the UAE to collect clothes for people in the war-affected areas of Yemen. Launched on October 21 by Oasis Mall in collaboration with Emirates Red Crescent, ‘Clothes for Compassion’ collected clothes until November 21.

October 18, 2015: The UAE delivered 75 tonnes of relief materials to Yemen. The plane carried 64 tonnes of food aid and 11 tonnes of medical aid to be distributed to Yemeni hospitals and medical centres in various governorates and Socotra.

September 16, 2015: The UAE provided Dh4 billion in aid to Syrian people since the onset of the crisis, of which more than half being humanitarian.

September 04, 2015: The ‘Yemen: We Care’ fund-raising campaign was raised to more than Dh500 million after an 11th-hour donation in a telethon broadcast live across the UAE.

August 23, 2015: The UAE provided humanitarian aid totalling Dh744 million ($202 million) and became the world’s largest aid donor to Yemen in 2015.

July 11, 2015: The UAE immunised more than 20.6 million Pakistani children against polio with nearly 87 million vaccines administered as part of the Emirates Polio Campaign.

June 06, 2015: The UAE’s Human Appeal International (HAI) gave $260,000 (Dh954,967) to local societies in four months to help 1,600 Palestinian orphans in the City of Tulkarem, West Bank.

April 08, 2015: The UAE ranked the world’s largest donor of official development aid in 2014, relative to its national income. According to figures from the Development Assistance Committee at the OECD, official development aid provided by the country hit Dh18 billion, 1.17 per cent of gross national income.

March 13, 2015: Shaikh Mohammad announced that the UAE had offered $4 billion to back Egypt. He added that $2 billion would be deposited in the Egyptian Central Bank, and $2 billion used to activate the Egyptian economy.

February 17, 2015: The UAE provided Dh55 million in food aid for Palestinian refugees in Damascus.

January 9, 2015: A telethon organised for Syrian refugees reeling from the effects of Snowstorm Huda witnessed an outpouring of generosity and support. Through the telethon, Emirates Red Crescent raised Dh150 million for the Syrian refugees.

January 03, 2015: The UAE named the world’s largest donor of official development assistance in 2013, offering $5.4 billion (Dh19.84 billion), representing 1.34 per cent of its gross national income.

— Compiled by Gulf News Archives