Shaikh Zayed exemplified the spirit of giving and assisted all those in need regardless of race or religion. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE marks the death anniversary of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the United Arab Emirates, on Sunday.

Emirati Humanitarian Day will be held each year in his loving memory and aims to inculcate the spirit of giving and philanthropy he exemplified. This 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, according to a report by the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation.

The whole world recognises Shaikh Zayed’s huge influence in fostering goodness.

He was a man who gave without expecting anything in return, one who translated every good thing he knew into action. He directed assistance to all countries and peoples suffering from poverty or lack of decent living conditions regardless of race, sex, language or religion.

His vision always extended beyond the borders of the UAE and prioritised moral values, as reflected in his untiring support for charity and philanthropy. President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, all the other Rulers of the Emirates and Supreme Council members, and all UAE citizens and residents, have continued to walk in the footsteps of the late leader. Because of Shaikh Zayed’s generous vision, the UAE is now regarded as one of the world’s most charitable countries.

History stands witness to the brilliant decisions of the late Shaikh Zayed, one of which was his passing 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, charity and giving still managed to occupy his mind. The inception of the Fund marked a major milestone at that time and sent a strong message to the whole world that the United Arab Emirates cherished its philanthropic and charitable heritage, that this federation of seven emirates, even at its nascent stages, aspired to cooperation and integration for the benefit of all the peoples and the nations of the world.

Shaikh Zayed fully grasped Islam’s compassion for the needy. He never hesitated to extend assistance to the global community and was a pioneer in humanitarian work.

The following figures clearly indicate the success of the directives of Shaikh Zayed in supporting development and providing humanitarian aid. From 1971 to 2004, the UAE gave Dh90.5 billion worth of aid in various forms to 117 countries around the world.

The figures reveal that the UAE provided development and humanitarian aid totalling Dh90.4 billion from 1971 to 2004. Government aid accounted for the largest percentage at over Dh73 billion, followed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, an autonomous institution owned by the Abu Dhabi Government to help developing countries achieve growth and development through assistance in the form of concessionary loans, at Dh15.3 billion.

Another major source of aid, the Emirates Red Crescent, accounted for Dh1.3 billion, followed by the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation with over Dh450 million, the Al Maktoum Foundation with Dh295.3 million.The founding of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development was followed by a number of initiatives launched by Shaikh Zayed to institutionalise the foreign aid sector, improve the viability of aid, and promote responsibility. Today, the UAE is home to more than 40 donor organisations and humanitarian and charity foundations that provide aid to all countries and peoples in need.

Despite being a relatively young nation, the UAE managed to rank 16th globally in the proportion of foreign assistance it provides in relation to its Gross National Income (GNI). This is a remarkable feat that reflects global recognition of the exceptional path of goodness laid out by Shaikh Zayed. It highlights the genuine charitable values he instilled in us and is the fruit of his passion for rescuing the needy and developing the capacities and resources of other countries.

Monitoring charity:

On the occasion of Emirati Humanitarian Day, the UAE Ministry of Development and International Cooperation, as part of its task to oversee and coordinate the foreign aid sector, deems the issuance of a report that reviews the most prominent aspects of UAE foreign and humanitarian aid from 1971 to 2004 of great importance. Although he passed away in 2004, Shaikh Zayed remains alive in our hearts. We continue to be inspired by his actions, his good qualities and charitable philosophy. We promise God that we shall walk in his footsteps.

Institutionalisation of the foreign aid sector:

Shaikh Zayed ordered the institutionalisation of the foreign aid sector in order to enhance delivery to beneficiary countries. This initiative sought to create a regulated system of institutions that do humanitarian work and provide assistance to countries around the world.

He also established a large number of donor organisations and humanitarian and charitable institutions led by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development which commenced operations on July 15, 1971. Its purpose was to provide assistance to developing and friendly countries and support their efforts to achieve economic and social development

Through the establishment of the Fund, the UAE has been able to institutionalise its foreign aid policies and distribute aid in an efficient and regular manner which ultimately maximises benefits to recipients.

The UAE Red Crescent Authority (now the Emirates Red Crescent) was established in 1983 as the entity in charge of providing humanitarian assistance. The authority has worked hard to extend aid to several countries in keeping with the directives of Shaikh Zayed. It has also responded to international appeals issued by organisations worldwide.

The humanitarian landscape began to evolve in the 1980s with the establishment of entities such as the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation. Today, there are more than 40 UAE-based donor organisations and humanitarian and charitable foundations providing aid to all countries and peoples in need.

All of them adhere to the humanitarian foundations set by Shaikh Zayed. They have helped uplift the UAE as one of the world’s most charitable countries.

Giving and Inclusiveness: A map without borders:

The Charity Map:

Shaikh Zayed’s approach to charity did not distinguish between race, sex, language or religion: it sought to benefit all human beings. Figures reveal that 117 countries have benefited from development, humanitarian and charitable aid provided by the United Arab Emirates.

Regional Aid Map:

He also wanted to ensure the feasibility of aid plans and the achievement of the best possible results. This could only be attained through a holistic approach that does not exclude other developmental sectors in the targeted developing countries. The figures reveal that a total of 21 sectors representing key economic segments affecting the basic needs of citizens in the needs of citizens in the countries that received UAE’s aid and assistance were targeted from 1971 to 2004.

Sectors Targeted for UAE Foreign Aid (1971-2004)

Government and Civil Society received Dh70.7 billion, Social Services Dh2.03 billion, Financial and Banking Services Dh36.7 million,

Agriculture Dh2.6 billion, Tourism Dh84.9 million, Health Dh803 million, Industry Dh871 million; Humanitarian Aid and Emergency

Relief Dh1.07 billion; Commodity Aid Dh4.1 million; Mineral Resources and Mining Dh769 million, Water and Sanitation Dh898 million; Transport and Storage Dh4.2 billion, Infrastructure Development Dh2 billion, Energy Generation and Supply Dh1.4 billion; Business Services Dh365 million; Public Programmes Support Dh160 million and Fishing Dh23 million.

Building and Development Vision:

Shaikh Zayed had an ambitious vision to provide aid to developing countries all over the world. This vision primarily sought to strengthen national development capacities that combine to form a firm foundation for a decent life and a strong nation and serve as effective tools for building a secure future for the coming generations. The late Shaikh Zayed was keen to help people affected by humanitarian challenges and emergency crises all over the world.

The statistics indicate that development aid provided by the UAE between 1971 and 2004 come first in the list and amount to more than Dh89 billion. This is followed by humanitarian aid at Dh1.1 billion and charity aid at around Dh267 million. The majority of the development aid went to infrastructure projects in the target countries - including residential communities, dams, health sector developments, schools, agricultural developments - as well as enhancements to other development capacities in various sectors. These have had a deep, positive impact on the development plans and strategies of the target countries and their peoples.

UAE Foreign Aid Categories 1971-2004

The value of Development Aid stood at Dh89 billion, Humanitarian Dh1.07 billion and Charity Dh267 million.