Several of the 10 richest countries in the world are also leaders in foreign aid and charitable donations to organizations that fight poverty both at home and abroad.
According to Global Finance Magazine, which utilized data provided by the International Monetary Fund, the 10 richest countries in the world by GDP per capita are Qatar, Luxembourg, Macao, Singapore, Brunei, Kuwait, Ireland, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and San Marino.
Number five on the list with a per capita GDP of $71,263, Kuwait has a history of offering humanitarian aid to developing countries, particularly in the Arab world. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has provided a total of $18.5 billion in loans to 104 countries in support for education, health services and agricultural development since the fund’s establishment in 1961. Part of the fund is also put aside to assist Kuwait’s citizens in finding housing.
Kuwait is also known for providing humanitarian relief in the wake of natural disasters and violent conflict. The country recently provided $500 million to Yemen and pledged another $500 million to Syria. In 2015, Kuwait’s contribution to foreign aid was 2.1 percent of its GDP, more than twice the U.N. Official Development Assistance target.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Ranked ninth on the list with a per capita GDP of $67,696, in 2013 the UAE was recognized as the top humanitarian donor of the year, having contributed nearly six billion dollars in aid to over 140 countries to provide food, shelter and education to vulnerable populations, particularly in countries such as Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories. Dubai, the UAE’s largest city, is also the location of the International Humanitarian City, which houses more than 50 commercial companies and nongovernmental organizations instrumental in the delivery of aid to areas of the world in need.
Ireland is the seventh richest country in the world and has a GDP of $69,374. In 2013, 49 of the top Irish companies donated over 24 million euro to local groups and organizations that focus on issues such as homelessness, education and disability services. The country increased its foreign aid budget, offering 640 million euro for developmental assistance in 2016, a seven percent increase from the previous year. Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan defined the fight against poverty and hunger worldwide as being “at the core of Irish foreign policy.”
Just behind Ireland with a GDP of $69,296, Norway allocates large amounts of aid money toward global education and health. It spent the third-highest percentage of gross national income on foreign aid in 2016 out of all the countries in the U.N., placing it just behind the UAE. Norway has recently proposed to double its support for renewable energy and is working with Kenya through the Oil for Development program to help Kenya protect its natural resources while gaining a foothold in the petroleum sector.
These nations, four of the 10 richest countries in the world, give back for a variety of reasons. The UAE claims that the humanitarian element is the single deciding factor in its policy on foreign aid, citing an Islamic belief that it is an obligation to help the less fortunate. Others see foreign aid as a means to strengthen its own political, diplomatic and economic positions. According to Dr. Hessah Al-Ojayan, assistant professor of finance at Kuwait University, Kuwait uses foreign aid to achieve “smaller ‘wins’ in the day-to-day global political arena.” Similarly, Norway’s partnership with Kenya, which the government has called “an engine of economic growth in Africa” and “increasingly important for Norwegian interests,” has the potential to be mutually beneficial.
Several of the 10 richest countries in the world have also made it to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) World Giving Index top 20. The rankings are determined by three criteria: the percentage of people surveyed from that country who say that they have helped a stranger, donated money or volunteered time. These statistics show that not only the governments of these countries, but also the citizens themselves, are generous to the less fortunate. Ireland ranks ninth on the list, followed by the UAE at 10th, Norway at 14th and Kuwait at 19th.
– Emilia Otte