Emirati culture is steeped in compassion and giving, from the material to the moral, and all its sectors, from the official to the common; in accordance, the UAE is considered one of the world’s leading aid donors, leading in its philanthropic contributions to humanitarian and developmental relief and aid. The UAE provides philanthropic support in a wide variety of forms, including mobilising emergency aid relief to alleviate human suffering in areas stricken by natural disaster or human crises and conflict, or through consistent donations to support worldwide development programmes.
The UAE, through its philanthropic efforts, aims to improve the quality of life of the less fortunate, and to contribute to eradicating obstacles hindering human development, especially in underprivileged societies, where poverty, disease and unemployment destabilise fragile and marginalised citizens. The philosophy behind the UAE’s philanthropic mission is that compassion and giving, through charitable and humane work, are the tools that will help achieve world peace and stability. This is a reflection of the UAE’s leadership and people, who value giving on a wide scale.
Instigated by its Islamic and Arabic identity, the UAE’s humanitarian vision encompasses helping everyone, regardless of any political considerations, and without any form of discrimination, be it by race, religion or gender. Humanitarianism is one of the core principles of the UAE: since its foundation, the UAE has believed in being part of the international community’s ethical commitment to contribute positively and constructively to human development and prosperity.
The UAE’s history of philanthropy (1971-2014)
Since its foundation in 1971, the young country has extended philanthropic aid, in the form of humanitarian relief projects or through cooperation with international and UN organizations, to 178 countries worldwide, with the total aid given reaching approximately AED 173 billion by 2014.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the majority of aid given focused on “government and civil society” sectors in developing countries, as they received approximately AED 80.6 billion, followed by “general support”, with a given value estimated at AED 22.5 billion, and approximately AED 7.7 billion dedicated to “emergency humanitarian aid”.
A Global leader in giving
In recent years, the international community has recognised the UAE as one of the largest donor countries in terms of percentage of Gross National Income (GNI). Moreover, in the last three years (2013, 2014, 2015), the UAE has consistently increased the ratio of foreign aid by GNI by 0.7%, a feat achieved by few other countries.
A report by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development indicated that the UAE’s foreign aid amounted to more than AED 21.6 billion (equivalent to US $5.2 billion) in 2013, making it one of the largest donors globally in terms of percentage of GNI. According to DAC, development assistance from the UAE had increased 375% in 2013 from 2012, the largest percentage increase in the history of grants and aid internationally.
In 2014, the UAE maintained its position for a second year in a row as the world’s biggest foreign aid donor in terms of percentage of GNI, donating 1.71%, which amount to over AED 22.6 billion (more than US $6 billion). Sweden was the second largest donor by percentage of GNI, donating 1.10%, followed by Luxembourg at 1.07%, Norway at 0.99%, Demark at 0.85%, the UK at 0.71% and the Netherlands at 0.64%.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced that the total aid donated by the UAE in 2015 amounted to AED 32.34 billion (approximately US $8.80 billion). The aid was distributed through 40 Emirati entities to 155 countries across the world, from which 120 countries were eligible for financial aid and developmental assistance, including 43 of the most under-developed countries in the world.
The UAE’s commitment to sustainable development has led to a focus on giving towards concrete initiatives to drive human development. In 2015, development aid received 92%, approximately AED 29.75 billion, of the AED 32.34 billion granted by the UAE. Humanitarian aid received 6.7% (AED 2.16 billion) followed by charitable aid which received 1.13% (almost AED 429 million).
Geographical Distribution of Aid
Africa was the biggest beneficiary of UAE foreign aid in 2015, receiving over AED 25 billion (approximately US $7 billion), and 77.6% of the total foreign aid. Asia was the second largest beneficiary and received approximately AED 7 billion (almost US $2 billion) in aid.
Prosperous communities that make a global impact are the ones that embrace the humanitarian principles of love and giving to all mankind.