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Refugees at a camp in Afghanistan, funded by UAE

The True Art of Giving

BY NAJLA AL ROSTAMANI Head of Gulf News Research Centre

Gulf News December 2001


 SINCE the establishment of the federation in 1971, the UAE has played a major part in setting up an outreach programme to countries around the world.  This policy has been based on the principle that eventually became one of the foundations of the country's foreign policy. Building bridges with the world is achieved through investment  in a number of areas ;political, economic and cultural. As the years went by, the nation gathered economic momentum, enabling it to send aid to other countries, especially those affected by disasters.


It was just a matter of working out how the aid would be allocated and handed out. It was more a logistical question  that  needed   to  be addressed, rather than a question of 'should' or 'must' the UAE be a participant in an aid effort. What governed this attitude and stance are the guidelines of the President, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who said,

"It is important to have an effective presence in this changing world."


The conviction is that countries like the UAE can play a role and make a difference, and that small nations in terms of geographical size and political weight can still be a part of change. One significant aspect of this belief is the fact that this has been carried out over the years in the UAE. For over 30 years, the UAE has been at the forefront of relief efforts. There is a consistent channelling of aid and the recipients have not just been disaster-hit countries or peoples. 


The UAE's involvement has taken two main forms over the years — first, aid provided in emergencies, and second, aid sent as part of an ongoing programme.This principle is based on a belief that a country such as the UAE, though small, can and should offer help within its capacity, mainly to those countries who share the UAE's Arab and Islamic identities.


That, however, has not limited the UAE's outreach. It has also extended help to several developing and developed countries, in keeping with its foreign policy principle of cooperation and goodwill in its dealings with other nations. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Develop­ment (ADFD) was established in 1971. The fund was to lend aid to Arab and Muslim countries to pursue their development plans. The aid would be in the form of grants, loans and technical aid, some of which was provided in long-term soft loans.

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