Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Attends Giving Retreat

retreat

The Giving Retreat was held today under the patronage of UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The retreat included the largest brainstorm of its kind in the UAE, bringing together over 100 experts, stakeholders, officials and humanitarian workers in an interactive dialogue that identified the challenges and opportunities for humanitarian and charitable advancement in the UAE, reflecting the directives of UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan as well as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stated, “The Year of Giving, under the wise leadership of Sheikh Khalifa and the support of our people, will solidify the UAE’s position as the world’s most giving nation.” He continued, “Consolidating the culture of giving in the UAE is a shared responsibility; all individuals and institutions will play a vital role and contribute to making giving a part of our national agenda.”

Sheikh Mohammed expressed his pride at the enthusiastic responses that he received on the #YearofGiving hashtag on Twitter (عام_الخير# in Arabic), saying “We received thousands of responses, creative ideas and suggestions, proving once again that our people are wired to make a positive impact on their communities and give. The eagerness of the responses heartened and assured us that because of our generous people, the future of our country is bright; the people’s ideas will soon be a reality, and everyone will play a role in embedding the value of giving even further in Emirati culture.”

Accompanied by Dubai Crown Prince His Highness Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the Federal National Council Amal Al Gubaisi, His Highness Deputy Prime Minister and Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs His Highness Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and HE Mohammed Al Gergawi, the chairman of the Higher National Committee of the Year of Giving, Mohammed said, “The Giving Retreat was the largest national gathering dedicated to institutionalising humanitarianism in the UAE. Today we launched dozens of initiatives that are sure to introduce a new era of giving and humanitarian work to the country. The conversations at the retreat proved that our nation, with the help and support of its people, will remain a beacon for humanitarianism.”

He continued, “We will introduce an integrated legislative system with a clear framework for Corporate Social Responsibility and Volunteering, both on an institutional and individual level. We will provide volunteers with incentives and a comprehensive framework for volunteering in order to document and reward their initiatives and efforts… Many young people want to volunteer, but are missing incentive programmes and clear guidance in order to be motivated to start volunteering.”

Sheikh Mohammed added, “Our objective for the Giving Retreat is to produce a sustainable strategic framework for the Year of Giving that we are proud of. We will ensure that the initiatives for the Year of Giving will become a dynamic part of the corporate and individual identity and performance.”

The agenda for the Giving Retreat, which was held in Dubai for a full day, included discussions centred around six areas of focus for the Year of Giving. The areas are promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as well as partnerships between public and private sector entities, under the leadership of His Excellency Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy; Volunteerism, under the leadership of Her Excellency Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, Minister of Community Development; the growth of Humanitarian Organisations and the development sector; the role of the media in the Year of Giving, under the leadership of His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, and Chairman of the National Media Council; the development of a legislative system supporting the Year of Giving objectives, under the leadership of Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Serving the Nation, under the leadership of Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs.

The Giving Retreat introduced dozens of initiatives to address the challenges and opportunities of each of the six areas, allocating the responsibilities of each initiative to the related stakeholder and providing a framework for performance including key performance indicators that will be used to follow up and measure that success of the initiatives.

Challenges and initiatives

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); under the leadership of His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy.

His Excellency said, “The Year of Giving will be an opportunity to create a real and active partnership between the government and the private sector, and to put a legislative framework to guarantee the contribution of companies in the development of the country. We discussed many unique initiatives and programmes, with clear KPIs, that aim to find integrated policies to encourage companies to take part in CSR. The Year of Giving has identified CSR as a clear pillar due to our leadership’s belief in the role that the private sector can play in the overall development of the nation socially, economically and environmentally.”

CSR is one of the main pillars of the Year of Giving, and aims to strengthen the partnership between the private sector and government by activating initiatives and development projects in the social, economic and environmental fields, among others.

The challenges defined during the retreat that are currently faced by the private sector in this regard include a lack of a clear role for the private sector in the development of the state, as well as a lack of clear mechanisms that ensure effective contributions to development. Not enough awareness in the business community was also identified as a challenge, along with a lack of a clear media strategy to guide and encourage CSR among private sector entities. Other challenges include a lack of solidified partnerships between the private sector, government and humanitarian entities, as well as a lack of official statistics and data related to the state of CSR in the UAE. Another overarching challenge was the lack of a clear definition of what CSR is, and a lack of a regulatory framework to organise the contributions of the private sector.

During the Giving Retreat, several initiatives were developed to promote constructive partnerships between the private and public sectors and advance the development of the state. These included mandatory disclosure of a CSR strategy, and of previous monetary donations to the humanitarian sector, when updating business licenses. There will also be a Responsible Procurement initiative, which will include allocating a percentage of government contracts to companies and suppliers that prove their commitment to CSR. Moreover, an annual Corporate Social Responsibility National Index will be adopted to track companies in the UAE based on the percentage of their contributions to CSR initiatives. Also, a Smart Platform for CSR will be launched through an app that includes all data related to CSR, as well as a set of guidelines, success stories, and the latest news.

An annual announcement titled the CSR Annual Results Announcement will also be made, and will include the results of the CSR National Index, honouring prestigious companies and hosting workshops to ensure continuous improvement.

Volunteering; under the leadership of Her Excellency Najla bint Mohammad Al Awar, Minister of Community Development.

Her Excellency noted, “Volunteering is one of the key pillars of the development and prosperity of our society, and the Year of Giving opens the door to all segments of society to volunteer in all their fields; we will create innovative initiative to reward volunteers. We have adopted a specialized volunteering programme, the first of its kind in the country, that incentivizes skills-based volunteers, and we have agreed to establish a national electronic platform that will collate all information and opportunities for volunteers in one place.”

Volunteering is another central theme for the Year of Giving. Many officials from various government entities participated in the discussion, identifying challenges and opportunities.

Some of the challenges identified included a lack of coordination between federal and local government entities in the volunteer sector, as well as a lack of a legislative framework to direct and enhance volunteer efforts, and a lack of training and educational programmes in this area and a lack of professional volunteers targeted by specific sectors based on their knowledge and expertise. Also noted was a lack of information through surveys, studies and research.

In response to these challenges, initiatives were introduced including the establishment of a National Volunteer Platform, a database that collates information for volunteers including volunteer opportunities based on volunteer interests.

Also, a programme for skills-based volunteering will be introduced, urging professionals including doctors, engineers, consultants and accountants to donate their time in their area of expertise. The government will also adopt an Opportunities in Government initiative, through which they will share volunteer opportunities for all segments of society.

An incentive programme will also be introduced, the first of its kind the UAE, through which professionals including doctors, engineers, consultants and accountants, will be urged to donate their time in their area of expertise.

Serving the Nation; under the leadership of Her Excellency Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs

Her Excellency said,, “Serving the Nation is one of the most important pillars in the Year of Giving as it targets young citizens who represent the future. We have the responsibility of planting this concept in their conscience so that they can act upon it. The Year of Giving is full of initiatives that reinforce the culture of Serving the Nation, the sense of belonging to the country and the sense of responsibility and commitment; it is critical to turn this culture into a daily practice. Our initiatives target school and university students; they are our real asset, and investing in them means we are building a generation that can give more to its country.”

The discussion regarding Serving the Nation was held by members of the National Youth Council, who identified the opportunities and challenges in this regard.

The challenges identified in this area include integrating the concept of Serving the Nation in all levels of society, a lack of awareness in the private and government sectors on ways to provide opportunities for young people to serve their communities, and a lack of awareness of the concept of Serving the Nation and educational campaigns and how to translate it into practice and establish it as part of the culture of giving.

Initiatives primarily targeting youth were introduced, with support from the education sector. Titled One Hundred Ways to Serve Your Country, one initiative aims to raise awareness of institutions and development projects among youth and guide them on how they can contribute.

Another initiative introduced is called Role Model, an initiative that highlights success stories, for example of doctors, architects, teachers, and more, who has adopted innovative ideas to serve their country. Another initiative will be launched to celebrate the youth who have sacrificed their lives for the country; a national monument will be built in their honour and display all their names.

More initiatives include a Community Service initiative, a programme that includes activities for university and school students to take part of, and the introduction of awards and competitions in the humanities field that highlight artistic expressions that serve the nation.

The National Youth Council will also organise visits to all the landmarks that symbolise Serving the Nation, such as the Etihad Museum and Wahat Al Karama.

The growth of Humanitarian Organisations and the Development sector

This area focused on how to create a clear role for humanitarian organisations in the development of the state. Several challenges that hinder the participation of humanitarian organisations were identified, including a lack of an integrated system for the charitable organisations, limiting the role to not include development work. A lack of statistics and studies about the need for humanitarian work in the country in general also proved to be a current challenge.

Among the initiatives adopted at the Giving Retreat for this area is the National Strategy for the Development of Humanitarian and Charity work, a five-year strategy implemented by the government, private sector and NGOs, and prepared in accordance with an extensive study of the current situation to ensure the advancement of humanitarian and charity work in the state. Partnerships will also be developed between local humane and charitable institutions, and global development leaders, in order to exchange knowledge and improve internal mechanisms. Also, a smart podium for humanitarian and charity work was agreed upon; the electronic platform will contain the latest information and news on humanitarian and charity work in the state. The Quality and Excellence in Charitable and Humanitarian work initiative was also announced and will set quality standards for charitable and humane development work, and will require local institutions to comply.

In addition, an independent authority for the development sector will be established and governed by the UAE cabinet, and formed by the secretary-generals of the local humanitarian institutions; its main mission will be to improve development work and link it to the nation’s overarching strategy, as well as the needs of government entities. Also, a statistical ecosystem to define the needs of the development sector in the UAE through data will be established. Furthermore, it will be recommended that the Ministry of Education develop programmes for degrees related to humanitarian work and development.

The role of the media; under the leadership of His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State, and Chairman of the National Media Council

His Excellency stated, “The media is a core player in the Year of Giving, we have a big responsibility to contribute to all the initiatives, where we can be the link to provide great awareness and credibility between decision makers and the public, where we can contribute to building the national opinion and encourage people to continue giving.”

The media was encouraged to support all the pillars of the Year of Giving during and beyond 2017, working as a key partner to build and promote the value of giving. His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said, “The major challenges are the absence of media monitoring strategies and analytics on the response of individuals and corporations to the Year of Giving. Also, there’s light media coverage for individual initiatives, which need to be highlighted within a framework that incentivizes more people to participate in the Year of Giving.”

Some of the innovative ideas discussed include A Billion in Giving, a CSR initiative for the local media to pledge to support the different initiatives across the Year of Giving by contributing with approximately one billion dirhams work of media coverage across all platforms including print, radio and TV.

Another initiative announced was the Giving Influencers; an initiative that engages thought leaders and social media influencers and urges them to communicate the key messages of the Year of Giving to the public.

The Giving Knights initiative was also announced, and will aim to unify media efforts on all media platforms to shed light on the individual efforts in the humanitarian fields and highlight success stories in order to inspire more people to do good and participate.

A Giving App that collates all information regarding events, activities, news and contributions related to the Year of Giving will also be launched so that everyone can stay up to date on the latest progress and achievements.

A strategy for volunteer work in media will also be launched, with the goal of volunteering 150,000 hours on behalf of media to train students, give lectures and complete research related to the Year of Giving.

Another initiative will be the Giving Walkathon, an annual event that will engage media representatives in a walkathon that aims to raise awareness about the goals and objectives of the Year of Giving.

The media sector will also launch several competitions for young people in the UAE in order to boost their participation and creativity, and incentivize them to create emotional and meaningful digital content, which will be shared on the #YearofGiving hashtag in order to increase engagement on digital platforms.

The Development of a Legislative System; under the leadership of Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness

Her Excellency said, “The development of nations is measured by their legislative ecosystem, and the UAE has proven its leadership among the most developed countries, through the adoption of a regulatory framework for the humanitarian sector. We will start working on two of the main regulations, which are a federal law for volunteering and a federal law for CSR, which will pave the way to institutionalising an ecosystem for giving in our country.”

This discussion was also attended by CEO of Mashreq Bank and Chairman of Abdul Al Ghurair Education Foundation His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, who spoke about the lack of a clear legislative framework for CSR, and a lack of a regulatory ecosystem to help develop and sustain the volunteer sector, on the federal level.

At the end of the discussion, it was decided that federal laws for CSR, volunteering and endowment will be created to ensure a seamless legislative process that functions efficiently and that introduces the two laws before the conclusion of 2017.

Also, a Giving is Happiness programme will be introduced, and will feature several initiatives aimed at providing support and happiness to vulnerable social groups, including the elderly and orphans.

With that, the Giving Retreat concluded with a confirmation from all stakeholders to work toward creating mechanisms to quickly and swiftly implement sustainable initiatives while ensuring communities, both individuals and institutions, participation, to transform the vision for the Year of Giving, as set by the national leadership, a reality.