The Role of the UAE in Global Development

  • 12 April 2015

Development aid is an integral part of the foreign policy of the United Arab Emirates and its relations with the world. UAE aid extends to various regions and is offered to all countries that are in dire need of support, be it in the face of poverty and disease, natural disasters, or political and armed conflicts. In keeping with this aim, several decades ago the UAE began implementing a variety of humanitarian aid programs—some in the form of direct assistance provided to recipient countries, others comprising indirect aid to those countries through international development organizations and institutions.

As a result, the UAE has steadily progressed over the years to become the world’s largest donor of official development aid relative to its national income during 2014 for the second year running. The Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (DAC/OECD) has ranked the UAE first globally in terms of development aid as a share of national income. The Committee has confirmed that official development aid provided by the country represented 1.17 per cent of gross national income (GNI), overtaking the rest of the world, including the wealthy developed countries. In fact, the UAE is among only three countries worldwide which allocate more than one percent of their GNI to development aid.

The commitment of the UAE to development aid reflects an awareness that global goals in the field of development – in the form of the Millennium Development Goals – will only be attained via the delivery of aid to less developed countries to help them overcome chronic development problems. This stems from the UAE’s desire to contribute to enabling the nations of the world to achieve an acceptable level of development and to affirming their right to access public services and utilities of appropriate efficiency, quality and affordability, thereby satisfying their daily needs.

In addition, the UAE is aware that the less developed countries which require aid comprise the weakest links in the global economic system and in terms of international development in general. The longer these countries suffer such problems and crises, the more likely they are to spread to other areas and ultimately affect the entire world.

This means that the global development role played by the UAE through its aid programs is based on the human responsibility the UAE feels towards mankind. It also stems from its balanced development vision – at the local and foreign levels – and the full awareness that in such an interconnected world, no country can live in isolation from the others. Unless all countries join forces early in the face of economic and development challenges, these may develop into widespread crises which in the long term no country will be able to avoid.