Dubai: As the Year of Giving approaches its end, we look back at the large-scale success of this national initiative and how it has managed to move the attention of each and every individual and organisation towards giving back to the community.
Since it was launched, the Year of Giving has been able to generate hundreds of humanitarian initiatives, millions of volunteer hours, and boosted private sector contributions like never before.
When the UAE named 2017 as the Year of Giving, it was reinforcing one of its core national values — of humanitarianism and generosity, a guiding principle that has shaped its growth and development as the top donor of aid in the world.
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the one to announce the theme for 2017, which followed the conclusion of 2016 as the Year of Reading. The main goal was to instill the culture of voluntary service and serving the society in institutions and citizens.
The grade 1 students of JSS share a meal for the workers of an underconstruction JSS School building in Jumeira Village Circle, Dubai, as part of Year of Giving initiative. (Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News)
The focus was on three major themes: strengthening social responsibility in the private sector, promoting the spirit of volunteerism and specialised voluntary programmes in all segments of society, and strengthening the concept of serving the nation in the new generations.
The Year of Giving was a golden opportunity to launch the first UAE Food Bank, a humanitarian foundation that would help channel the surplus fresh and dry foods to charities that feed the needy in the UAE and beyond and establish Dubai as the region’s first city in achieving zero food waste to landfill.
Among the main objectives in 2017 was the development of a legislative system around giving, and this was quickly achieved. The UAE managed to introduce the largest number of policies, legislation and sustainable initiatives for giving in the UAE.
“Choosing 2017 to be the Year of Giving reflects the UAE’s humanitarian approach since its establishment as well as providing aid for free,” Shaikh Khalifa said earlier while first announcing it.
“The UAE is the country of giving and the Emiratis are carrying forward the humanitarian legacy of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. When people speak about achievements, we are proud of following the humanitarian approach of the late Shaikh Zayed, and when people speak about their history, we speak about the history of the humanitarian achievements since the establishment of the country,” he added.
Dubai Cares provide 4,250 volunteering opportunities to UAE residents as part of ‘Year of Giving 2017’. (Photo: Dubai Cares)
Pointing out the importance of enhancing the humanitarian concept in all segments of society, Shaikh Khalifa said, “The UAE has global accomplishments in the field of humanitarian aid and we seek to boost this culture as it represents one of the most important merits of the UAE’s personality and its institutions.”
In this regard, Shaikh Khalifa was keen to explain that the noblest image of humanitarian work is connected with serving the homeland and working continuously to develop and sacrifice for it.
A high-level committee was set up for the Year of Giving with the task of developing a comprehensive framework for the Year of Giving and bringing about a qualitative and sustainable shift in public-private sector partnership.
The committee alone launched a total of 1,400 nationwide initiatives which would involve all members of the community and dedicated them to the UAE martyrs, who sacrificed their lives while performing their national duty.
In September, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, expressed his pride on the achievements and successes of the Year of Giving initiative.
“The Year of Giving has revealed and nurtured the philanthropic Emirati spirit. We have introduced the largest number of policies, legislation and sustainable initiatives for giving in the UAE,” he said.
He also introduced ten new sustainable initiatives and policies within the legislative and executive frameworks, in order to ensure the UAE remains a regional and global capital for humanitarianism and that philanthropy is deeply ingrained in the community. He also adopted ten new initiatives and policies, within various elements of the UAE National Strategy for the Year of Giving.
Milestones in UAE’s Year of Giving
Dubai: When 2017 was announced as the Year of Giving, the UAE and its people quickly and devotedly responded.
Public and private institutions as well as individuals and groups came forward to contribute to the noble cause by launching numerous initiatives and spreading humanitarian work that helped change the lives of thousands of people inside and outside the country.
Latest figures in September showed that the Year of Giving has managed to collect over Dh1.6 billion through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and programmes, and private and public sector and individual donations.
Over 2.8 million volunteer hours were registered, and 141 institutions offered 716 volunteer opportunities in various fields, along with almost 275,000 volunteers who registered nationwide through the National Volunteer Platform.
Among the main initiatives of the Year of Giving was the launch of the UAE Food Bank, which was announced by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in January, 2017. With an estimated Dh4 billion worth of food wastage occurring in the UAE every year, the initiative was aimed to curb this practice.
Under the umbrella of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives Foundation, the UAE Food Bank aims to cut food wastage and feed the needy by donating surplus from food businesses to the disadvantaged members of the society through approved charity groups. It has been partnering with major hotel chains, supermarkets, food factories and farms and will open its doors to volunteers to contribute to the distribution of food inside and outside the country.
Almost 136 tonnes of surplus food from food businesses was donated to the needy through the first branch of the Food Bank in Al Quoz since its opening in April until October. A second branch was later launched next to the Canadian University in Al Bada district. Easa Saleh Al Gurg Charity Foundation become the first permanent sponsor of the UAE Food Bank.
Under the UAE Food Bank initiative spearheaded by the Dubai Municipality was the Ramadan Fridge Initiative which allowed residents in Dubai to donate food to the needy through 80 Ramadan fridges distributed at mosques.
From private institutions who quickly showed their commitment was the currency transfer house, Al Ansari Exchange which allocated Dh25 million to charity in 2017, supporting Dubai Cares, Dubai Club for People of Determination, Dubai Autism Centre and many more.
LuLu Group International also quickly committed Dh10 million to support Dubai Cares in its work to improve children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries.
Charity organisations took the lead in coordinating and executing charitable initiatives across the UAE with private and government institutions.
Nearly 130 patients benefited from a Dubai Health Authority’s ‘Save A Heart’ campaign, with a treatment cost of over Dh1 million and more than Dh48 million worth of medicines were distributed to 300 underprivileged patients in the same year.
Simple acts of kindness were seen taking place everywhere. The Year of Giving lead to a culture of compassion that penetrated all layers of society. From individuals distributing food and clothes to workers to Dubai Civil Defence surprising a woman with the gift of a new furry feline friend resembling the pet she lost in a recent fire, the Year of Giving, generated a groundswell of benevolence in the country
To further instill the culture of giving back and enhance the spirit of volunteering and loyalty within the community Shaikh Khalifa declared 2018 the “Year of Zayed” in the UAE, a year which marks 100 years since the birth of the late founding father Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, It will highlight the role of the late leader in establishing the UAE Federation, and his local, regional and international achievements.
The Year of Giving precedes the Year of Zayed because the value of giving is mirrored in Shaikh Zayed’s spirit and it will be a continuation of giving.
Timeline — Year of Giving
December 24, 2016
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan announces that 2017 will be the ‘Year of Giving.’ Shaikh Khalifa urges the younger generation to carry forward the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s legacy of giving.
December 25, 2016
The committee for Year of Giving set up, which includes five ministers and secretaries-general of the emirates’ executive councils. It may include other members nominated by local governments.
December 26, 2016
Al Ansari Exchange, a currency transfer house, will donate Dh25 million to charity in 2017 as part of Year of Giving.
January 01, 2017
The official logo of the ‘Year of Giving 2017’ is released, to be used by all local, government and media entities in all campaigns, programmes and initiatives related to the initiative.
January 03, 2017
UAE Food Bank, a new charity initiative, is launched to distribute food to those in need while eliminating wastage, as part of Year of Giving.
January 04, 2017
Shaikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum is appointed as chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the non-profit organisation.
January 29, 2017
The UAE’s Lawyers Association launches a Dh1 million legal consultation endowment for the needy individuals in cooperation with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Centre for Endowment Consultancy. The endowment is in line with The Year of Giving.
February 01, 2017
A legislative framework will govern humanitarian activities in the UAE and charity work done by corporate houses will be monitored, it is announced during a retreat on Year of Giving.
February 04, 2017
A large number of Yemenis who suffered injuries during the ongoing war in that country, will receive medical treatment in UAE hospitals, the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) announces, as part of Year of Giving.
February 08, 2017
The Community Development Authority in Dubai (CDA) introduces seven key initiatives to inspire the residents to give back to the community this Year of Giving.
March 01, 2017
Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF) has settled the debts of 25 families whose bread-winners had passed away in 2016, with a total allocation of Dh6.17 million. The development comes in line with the Year of Giving initiative.
March 05, 2017
The UAE dedicates the ‘Year of Giving’ along with all its initiatives and activities to the UAE martyrs in memory of their heroic deeds and in appreciation of their sacrifices.
March 20, 2017
A total of 1,400 charity initiatives launched across the country throughout the Year of Giving. A high-level committee for the Year of Giving announced that various initiatives are being launched by each of the seven emirates and will target all segments of the UAE society.
April 11, 2017
The UAE spends more on aid to develop other countries than any other nation on earth compared to its wealth, states a new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report. The OECD announcement coincides with the UAE’s Year of Giving.
April 18, 2017
Medicines worth Dh48 million are distributed free to more than 300 under-privileged patients by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to mark the Year of Giving.
April 19, 2017
The Low-income Families Committee of the Dar Al Ber Society in Umm Al Quwain successfully completed nine charity initiatives worth Dh5 million over the first quarter of this year. Eleven other charity projects are to be launched in the remaining months of this year as part of the committee’s participation in the Year of Giving.
July 18, 2017
The Dubai Civil Defence surprised a woman with the gift of a new furry feline friend resembling the pet she lost in a recent fire, as part of the Year of Giving.
September 10, 2017
The Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, in cooperation with Emirates Post Group, has issued Year of Giving memorial stamps as part of its Good Post initiative.
September 19, 2017
More than Dh1 million has been spent on the federal ‘Save A Heart’ campaign organised by the Musa’adah (Assistance) committee of the Dubai Health Authority, as part of the Year of Giving.
October 08, 2017
Philanthropic fund Sandooq Al Watan get an additional Dh62 million thanks to a donation by Emaar Properties PJSC, as part of the Year of Giving.
October 22, 2017
Dubai Municipality announces a Dh10m park named Charity Oasis which will accept date palm trees from the public to donate the yield to the needy.
November 20, 2017
Dubai Cares received a contribution of Dh1 million from Emirates Islamic, through the bank’s Emirates Islamic Charity Fund, to support Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, as part of the Year of Giving.
Compiled by Gulf News Archives
Main contributors of Year of Giving
December 26, 2016
Al Ansari Exchange, a currency transfer house, donated Dh25 million to charity in 2017 as part of Year of Giving.
January 04, 2017
Dubai Police distributed a number of meals to a group of workers, as part of Year of Giving.
January 12, 2017
Dubai Municipality gifted a recreational park to the members and inmates of Emirates Down syndrome Association in Al Ghusais as part of the Year of Giving initiative.
January 15, 2017
The Dubai Courts Department (DCD) launched a voluntary initiative to promote legal experts’ participation in charitable and humanitarian movement in the UAE as part of 2017 being the ‘Year of Giving’.
January 24, 2017
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) adopted seven initiatives to mark the Year of Giving.
February 23, 2017
A new innovation Centre dedicated to developing skills of children with special needs through their interaction with modern technologies was launched by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). The facility was launched as part of the Year of Giving
March 19, 2017
Dubai residents who ditched their cars for a day have helped donate Dh200,000 to support needy people and persons with special needs in the emirate. Dubai Municipality donated the amount as part of a Year of Giving initiative linked to the Car Free Day it observed last month.
April 18, 2017
Medicines worth Dh48 million were distributed for free to more than 300 under-privileged patients by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to mark the Year of Giving.
April 19, 2017
The Low-income Families Committee of the Dar Al Ber Society in Umm Al Quwain successfully completed nine charity initiatives worth Dh5 million over the first quarter of this year. Eleven other charity projects were launched in the remaining months of 2017 as part of the committee’s participation in the Year of Giving.
May 26, 2017
In line with the Year of Giving initiative Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation in collaboration with the Department of Awqaf, Sharjah, organised an Umrah trip for 11 orphans.
July 16, 2017
Dubai Municipality started giving out umbrellas to the public to protect them from the summer heat, as part of the Year of Giving.
July 26, 2017
Dar Al Ber Society signed an agreement with Zulekha Healthcare Group in Sharjah and Dubai and Alexis Hospital in India to secure free treatment for low-income patients. The move was in line with 2017 being declared the Year of Giving.
August 10, 2017
A charity project led by Seddiqi & Sons in collaboration with Emirates Red Crescent saw around 2,200 watches donated by people across the UAE to support those in need, as part of the Year of Giving.
October 18, 2017
A rewards programme for around 300,000 people in the GEMS Education school network was kicked off, giving them discounts in leading brands and referral points in the form of discounted school fees, among others, as part of the Year of Giving.
Compiled by Gulf News Archives
Other top events of the year
The Rohingya crisis intensifies
The plight of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people is said to be the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis. Risking death by sea or on foot, more than half a million have fled the destruction of their homes and persecution in the northern Rakhine province of Myanmar for neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017. The United Nations described the military offensive in Rakhine by the Myanmar military regime, which provoked the exodus, as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Based in Myanmar for centuries, the mainly Muslim Rohingya have long been discriminated against. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Myanmar’s most prominent face, has stood by silently even as the Rohingya either endured or fled the violence.
Trump declares Jerusalem as Israeli capital
US President Donald Trump has scrambled to contain the remarkably broad international rejection of his new policy towards occupied Jerusalem, including from key allies — using threats, assurances and a cold shoulder to try to limit the diplomatic damage. Trump recognised occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel against the publicly-stated advice of Washington’s closest Arab and European allies, many of whom characterised the move as shortsighted. Major protests followed – and not one major ally or geopolitical leader pledged to follow the US lead. Many have also spoken in starkly critical fashion against Trump’s break with 50 years of diplomatic convention that treats occupied Jerusalem as an open question to be resolved only through negotiations. The UN General Assembly also delivered a stinging rebuke, voting by a huge majority to reject Trump’s decision.
#MeToo campaign goes viral
From Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore to Dustin Hoffman and Charlie Rose, 2017 saw a host of public figures being named and shamed for alleged sexual misbehaviour and abuse of power – ranging from boorish innuendo to outright assaults. It was Tarana Burke who coined the phrase MeToo as an awareness campaign for survivors of sexual harassment on Myspace back in 2006, but it wasn’t until the autumn of 2017 that the phrase went viral. On October 15, the hashtag exploded across social media and onto the posters of protesters after actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The flood gates opened and hundreds of thousands of women came forward with their experiences of sexual misconduct. The phrase was used millions of times on Facebook and Twitter in the first day. The movement spread to at least 85 countries within days of Milano’s tweet and felled powerful men.
Bitcoin gains global fame
It started the year worth less than $1,000 but swiftly soared above $17,000. This was the year when Bitcoin – and other cryptocurrencies – got acknowledged as a part of the global financial system, although the recognition came with a host of warnings from central banks, economists and entrepreneurs. While some top economists and financiers called Bitcoin a bubble and a fraud, industry insiders said it was only going to get bigger as it gained more widespread acceptance. Will the widespread popularity of Bitcoin become its stamp of approval and help consolidate its position at other major financial institutions, in defiance of market expectations? Only time will tell.