Sheikh Zayed's charitable work transcended religious, national and geographical boundaries and sowed the seeds for today's philanthropic institutions, writes Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid
Zayed Day for Humanitarian Action: a day to remember the Founding Father's philanthropy and humanitarian work
The 19th day of Ramadan in the Islamic year 1425 coincided with November 2, 2004, the day Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father of the UAE, died. Since then, the UAE as a nation has commemorated the legacy of this visionary statesman on this day every year as the Zayed Day for Humanitarian Action.
The commemoration serves as an opportunity for the UAE to renew the covenant of philanthropic and humanitarian work launched by the Founding Father. This annual initiative reinforces the commitment of the UAE's leadership and people to all the values and principles embodied by Sheikh Zayed.
This year, the Zayed Day for Humanitarian Action is even more special as it coincides with the Year of Zayed and the centennial anniversary of the birth of the Founding Father.
Charitable and humanitarian work in the UAE has become a sustainable and enduring way of life, with the country’s public and private sector participating proactively in instilling a culture of giving in society.
These efforts have not gone unnoticed by the international community. For the fifth consecutive year, the UAE has been recognised as the world's top official aid donor relative to national income with its contribution of Dh19.3 billion last year, equivalent to 1.31 per cent of the gross national income, an unprecedented accomplishment for any country to date.
Inspired by the legacy of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s generosity and altruism are based on sound planning and strong scientific foundations that have paved the way for the country to become a global leader in charitable and humanitarian work.
Our leadership’s enthusiasm and commitment to continuing the Founding Father's good work and noble deeds reiterates the deep-rooted love and solidarity for fellow human beings that is inherent in all the people of the UAE. After all, we have an illustrious example to follow. Our Founding Father was revered regionally and globally for his humanity, generosity and charity.
Following the establishment of the UAE in 1971, Sheikh Zayed was keen to make it a land that prioritised goodness and giving, extending a positive influence on the region and the world at large. He emphasised the principle of a strong society based on a cohesive family structure.
Today, owing to his stellar efforts, the UAE is known around the world as a country that is home to generous people and a culture that values tolerance, peace and stability above all.
It is no surprise that the UAE’s institutions and charities transcend religious, national and geographical boundaries today in helping the needy, the elderly, women and children in areas of tension, conflict and drought across the world.
The UAE's charitable work has taken on an institutional character to ensure its continuity and longevity.
It has grown above and beyond material and in-kind assistance to comprehensive development that ensures the ability of the target groups and regions to develop independently and not rely solely on receiving aid.
Developmental projects that bear the name of Sheikh Zayed have spread across several regions worldwide and include educational institutions, hospitals, housing projects, roads, bridges and canals, among others.
The series of initiatives named after the Founding Father, such as Year of Zayed and Zayed Day for Humanitarian Action, confirm that his story will continue to live in the accomplishments of our wise leadership, the people of the UAE, Arab and Islamic people worldwide and indeed the world as a whole.
The momentum of these initiatives confirms that the founder of the modern renaissance in the UAE was also a pioneer of philanthropy and humanitarian work at regional and international levels.
His attitude, initiatives and exceptional leadership continue to register a positive impact and gain the respect of people around the world.
Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid is the UAE's Minister of Community Development