Development Dimension of UAE Foreign Aid Policy

  • 13 January 2011

While providing aid to the needy have been a regular feature of the UAE’s foreign policy since its inception it is also keen to implement the philosophy of making aid a tool to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development transcending its narrow and temporary charitable objectives. Perhaps the UAE’s assistance to Pakistan in the fields of education, public health, roads and bridges – launched on Wednesday under the directives of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan – represents an example of the development dimension of the UAE’s foreign aid policy.

The UAE stood by Pakistan in recent years when the country faced adversity and natural disasters. It was one of the first countries to rush aid in times of crises. The UAE did not stop at this point and worked towards streamlining this aid into long-term development projects. The country also recommended this policy to international powers listed under the Friends of Pakistan Group. In an essay published by the London-based Middle East magazine on 19th September, 2010, after the devastating flood hit Pakistan, UAE Foreign Minister His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan maintained that “despite the current international attention on floods, we must not lose sight of the long term picture regarding sustainable development and stability in Pakistan.”

This development philosophy, which guides the UAE’s foreign assistance policy and its orientations, also gives the country the capability to make a real difference on the ground. The country’s focus is not just on sending money and aid alone but launches development projects and programs that go beyond dealing with emergency situations and looks into the future that includes achievement of comprehensive and sustainable development in a manner that creates an atmosphere of security and stability and roots out conflicts. Since areas of conflict become breeding ground for extremism, the UAE, through its distinctive vision in the area of foreign policy, contributes directly to achieve international peace and stability. The UAE’s unique experiences in the field of foreign aid have also earned tributes from various international bodies. John Holmes, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, in his comments on the 2009 UAE report on Foreign Aid, which was launched last year, said that “the UAE’s role does not stop on the edge of participation with aid only but extends to laying the foundation of the humanitarian system for the future and its basis.”