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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Dubai made Dh1.8bn worth of difference to world's needy, Ruler tells celebratory iftar

'I am proud of my humanitarian team — over 500 employees in the service of humanity and 90,000 volunteers help us in our journey of giving in over 60 countries,' said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid says

Almost Dh2 billion has been spent by Dubai on alleviating poverty, boosting education and providing humanitarian aid to millions of people in 68 countries.

That’s the result of last year’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global initiatives programme.

A breakdown of the spending revealed that Dh194 million was pumped into relief aid, with health accounting for Dh477m, education Dh634m, while Dh396m was spent on innovation and entrepreneurship.

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The Dh1.8bn figure was revealed at a special iftar at Dubai Opera on Thursday attended by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and representatives of the programme.

“I am proud of my humanitarian team — over 500 employees in the service of humanity and 90,000 volunteers help us in our journey of giving in over 60 countries,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

“We encourage all of the humanitarian institutions under the umbrella of our initiatives to strive to excel in their work.”

The scope of the programme’s work stretches across five pillars: humanitarian aid and relief, health care and disease control, spreading education and knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship, and empowering communities.

Among the many aid projects last year was the transport of 1.8 million tonnes of humanitarian assistance to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh through International Humanitarian City, while the Al Jalila Foundation provided 1.7 million tetanus vaccines in 19 countries.

Other projects included the digging of wells in water-scarce countries such as China, Egypt and Bangladesh by UAE Water Aid (Suqia), while closer to home, about 700 tonnes of food gathered by the Food Bank were delivered to charitable foundations in the UAE.

"We have the resources, the will, the management and no excuse for not being the first in humanitarian aid," Sheikh Mohammed said.

Millions were also spent on institutions such as the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, the Museum of the Future and other institutions.

"Over the past 20 years, we have embraced many initiatives and projects in which we seek to make a qualitative difference in people's lives and communities. We invest in the business of aiding humanity, the business of hope and in creating a better life for millions of people,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Among the countless other worthy initiatives were the Arab Reading Challenge, which saw thousands of pupils from across the region taking part; the “one million Arab coders” initiative to train a million youngsters in programming, while 87,000 people participated in the Arab Hope Makers initiative. This is the largest such programme for philanthropists in the Arab world.

Coming in the Year of Zayed, Sheikh Mohammed said the work was about continuing the late President’s commitment to giving.

“We dedicate the best of the UAE to all humanity, without distinction between race, colour or creed. We believe that our real values lie in changing the lives of people for the better,” he said.

Last year also saw two new initiatives: the creation of the International Institute for Tolerance and the launch of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Tolerance Award. Considered the first of its kind in the region, the institute aims to spread a message of tolerance as a humanitarian value.

"We will continue to work, build and give in accordance with the vision we have set for ourselves and our team at the Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“It is the service of humanity first and last."

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives was launched in 2015 to improve the Arab world through humanitarian, developmental and community work.