Dubai: A concrete national strategy consisting of various humanitarian initiatives was announced by six ministers at the Year of Giving’s first national retreat in Dubai on Wednesday.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, joined the workshop discussions, which gathered over 100 cabinet ministers, government officials, and community and humanitarian leaders.
“With the generosity of citizens, the Year of Giving, launched under the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, will consolidate our position as a nation and people, especially as we are the most generous nation globally,” said Shaikh Mohammad while speaking at the Year or Giving Retreat.
Shaikh Mohammad pointed out that consolidating a culture of giving in the UAE is a joint responsibility, and that the role of individuals and institutions to transform the year of giving into a platform for hardwork so that we can make generosity a part of our national scheme.
Shaikh Mohammad expressed his pride with the notable response of the Emirati community with the hashtag #theYearOfGiving, which he launched on his social media accounts.
Shaikh Mohammad pointed out that Year of Giving is considered the largest national gathering to create a long-term strategy for charitable work.
Shaikh Mohammad said the discussions held in the gathering proves that our nation, with the hardwork of citizens, will be a beacon for humanitarian work that supports people and builds a nation.
“We are striving to establish a sustainable and comprehensive legislative system for social responsibility in which companies can carry out their development role more efficiently within a clear legislative framework. We are also striving to offer permanent incentives to volunteers and rewarding philanthropists,” said Shaikh Mohammad.
Earlier, Shaikh Mohammad tweeted about the retreat. “Today, we received thousands of ideas and participations through the #theYearOfGiving initiative. The participation of the people and their love for charity is an incentive and driving force for everyone to bring about a change in their community,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, discussions over the future of philanthropy in the UAE, brought about suggestions focusing on three major themes for the Year of Giving — how to strengthen social responsibility in the private sector, how to promote spirit of volunteerism and specialised voluntary programmes in all segments of society, and how to strengthen the concept of serving the nation in youth.
Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and the Future, started the retreat by pointing out there is good and giving in each emirate.
“Our leaders have established charitable associations that are represented by officials from the public and private sector as well as humanitarian leaders and businessmen,” he said.
Al Gergawi pointed out the need to create a legislative framework for humanitarian and charity work.
“The Year of Giving initiative reflects the identity of the UAE in human activity. The UAE is a very young country and in a short period of time it became an example in giving and in creating a balance in economic and humanitarian growth. This is what makes it exceptional,” he said.
While the UAE currently has over 200,000 registered volunteers, Al Gergawi said the upcoming initiatives aim to increase that number and establish a regulatory institution that can monitor the number of hours volunteered by each individual in companies across the country.
“Our aim is to include residents and students in the volunteering programme and to further engrave the sense of giving in our youth,” he said.
Al Gergawi also highlighted the need to oversee charity work by businessmen in the country.
“The richest individuals in the region live in the UAE. While they already contribute to humanitarian work, clearer legislations are needed to outline and regulate their contributions,” he added.
Al Gergawi also highlighted the media’s role on reporting successful charitable initiatives, volunteering experiences, and the benefits of giving in the society. Placing laws on the regulation of endowments is another area of focus in the Year of Giving, he added.
Values of generosity
During the retreat, discussions also included suggestions on ways to cement a partnership between the public and private sectors as well as NGOs and society in general, in order to shape a future defined by the values of charity and generosity.
Shaikh Mohammad has also previously called on the public to participate in this national plan by contributing ideas and suggestions via the #YearOfGiving hashtag.
Six key pillars
The agenda of the retreat highlighted six areas for the Year of Giving; corporate social responsibility, volunteering, serving the nation, the role of the media, developing a legislative system to achieve objectives, and the growth of the development sector and humanitarian organisations. Each area will be led by a minister in a related field, who will work on coordinating between federal and local authorities for major initiatives, following up on progress and achievements, and reporting periodically to the Higher National Committee for the Year of Giving.
Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, is in charge of the corporate social responsibility pillar.
The volunteer work pillar falls under the remit of Najla Mohammad Al Awar, Minister of Community Development. Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, will oversee the humanitarian organisations pillar.
Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of the National Media Council, is responsible for the media pillar. Uhoud Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, is heading the pillar related to legislative system and government policies. Shamma Suhail Faris Al Mazroui, Minister of State for Youth, is heading the “serving the nation” pillar