x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE doing global bood

UAE's donation to the tornado-battered public school system in the US city of Joplin shows a friendly gesture.

Part of being a good friend is to know how and when to give. The UAE demonstrated just that in 2011, when one of its embassy officials in Washington called a public school system in the US state of Missouri - which has just been battered by a tornado - to ask what the system needed.

What emerged was a transcontinental partnership, built out of crisis, that no amount of money can buy.

Today about 2,200 high-school students in the city of Joplin have lap-tops, thanks to the UAE, for studies and online reading (books were among the biggest casualties of the storm). The UAE also spent $5 million (Dh18 million) to build an intensive-care unit at a tornado-hit hospital and provided $150 million to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington. "We spot needs and we try to help," Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE's Ambassador to the United States, told The Washington Post. The country has also made hefty donations to other hospitals and plans to donate to food banks.

For decades the United States has been a major aid donor to the Middle East. Today, this region is repaying the favour. It will take time for Americans to appreciate these goodwill gestures (one recent study found that many in the US still have unfavourable view of the Emirates). But gestures like the one in Joplin demonstrate that friends are there for each other, in good times, and bad.