Healthcare in the UAE
The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) has undergone many transformations throughout the years. This is because of the discovery of oil in 1958. In 1971, after gaining independence from Great Britain, seven different monarchies came together to form the federation that stands to this day. It is already a highly-developed country but continues to modernize and diversify. Moreover, many of the changes have to do with healthcare in the U.A.E.

The Evolution of the UAE

The U.A.E. has historically been very reliant on oil production with the region holding the fifth-largest oil reserve in the world. The availability of oil has been a great advantage to kickstart their economy and help it flourish into the second-largest economy in the Middle East. However, there has been a focus on transforming the oil-based economy into a service-based economy — similar to what is seen in other developed countries. Major infrastructure projects have been completed in the hope of making the U.A.E. a giant in the tourism industry. The country has made great strides from the era of British colonialism with a high standard of living and an estimated GDP per capita of $41,000.

Additionally, in past decades, the U.A.E. has worked to build off its oil-based society. Due to high temperatures, citizens of the U.A.E. are among the largest consumers of energy in the world. The government has looked to expand on alternative energy sources. In 2013 Abu Dhabi opened a major solar power plant, capable of powering up to 20,000 homes. Furthermore, in 2009, construction began on four nuclear power plants; one of them is currently operating.

Healthcare in the UAE

The U.A.E. has many advantages working in their favor when it comes to building a comprehensive healthcare system for its citizenry. As the U.A.E. was able to develop so quickly, consequently it lacks a current, deeply rooted healthcare network. The government can observe the most effective practices and employ the newest technologies. The quality of care in the U.A.E. has made it a hot spot for medical tourism.

In recent years, there has been growth in the private healthcare sector. As a result, healthcare in public hospitals is free for citizens. The government also subsidizes health insurance for citizens. The combination of premium quality care and low costs lead to world-renowned healthcare in the U.A.E. The system has been able to handle COVID-19 patients with relative ease. For example, 66,000 Emiratis have contracted the virus and only 370 have lost their lives.

Migrant Workers Slip Through the Cracks

Furthermore, the U.A.E. has gone through an unprecedented boom in the construction of skyscrapers. To fill their labor needs, the U.A.E. has a heavy dependence on foreign labor. Migrants make up about 90% of the Emirati’s population. Those 8 million migrants are mostly migrant workers from surrounding countries in search of economic opportunity. Employers exploit them while treating them as outsiders. They do not have access to the perks enjoyed by Emirati nationals. Less than 30% of Emirati, companies are required to provide health insurance to employees. Normally, only the most serious injuries receive medical attention. Additionally, construction work is very dangerous in the U.A.E.; between eight and 10 bodies are sent to their native countries, each month.

Although the U.A.E. is a very wealthy collection of states, they have been unable to guarantee quality healthcare for all. Migrant workers overwork for nominal wages. Whether it is by choice or a result of their societal structure, these laborers do not get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Matthew Beach
Photo: Flickr

American Expenditure on EntertainmentExpenditure by the average American consumer unit (henceforth household) each year is substantial compared to what the poor in the world spend. Of the 200 million or so rich people globally, Americans make up the majority; in this decade, as determined by those in the World Data Lab, “the world’s top market segment will be America’s rich” (italicization added). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey (BLS CEX), entertainment spending made up 5.3% of the total average annual expenditure of American households in 2018. American spending on entertainment is considerable.

Collectively: Average American Households

Looking at the CEX, in 2018, average annual expenditures rose to $61,224, compared to $60,060 the year before. More specifically, spending on entertainment (EE) increased to $3,226, from $3,203 in 2017. (Inflation was higher than expenditure numbers in 2018. Nevertheless, consider that thousands of dollars went toward entertainment.) There were 131,439,000 households in the U.S. in 2018. When one multiplies that number by EE, one gets $424,022,214,000; hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on entertainment.

That amount of money is more considerable than the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018 for the entire country of the United Arab Emirates (where Dubai and the tallest building in the world are), which was over $421 billion.

So what does the category of entertainment expenditure include in the BLS CEX?

  1. Fees and admissions, including admissions to sporting events and movies; fees for social organizations; recreational lessons; and recreation expenses on trips.

  2. Television, radio and sound equipment, including video game hardware and musical instruments.

  3. Pets, toys, hobbies and playground equipment.

  4. Other entertainment equipment and services, including indoor exercise equipment, camping equipment, boats, photographic equipment and supplies and fireworks.

Just $2 billion of the $72.56 billion that Americans spent on pets in 2018 is what Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was at a minimum seeking to raise as of 7 August. That amount could immunize both those with high susceptibility to the coronavirus and health care workers in Gavi-supported countries, with doses that would be available for use where needed most. Gavi is a public-private partnership that has helped to immunize hundreds of millions of children since 2000; partners include the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

America’s Rich

By the end of 2020, there will be an average of $194 to spend per day per wealthy American; this is put forth in a Brookings Institution blog. Possibly an appropriate juxtaposition, in 2018, households and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISHs) final consumption expenditure per capita was $189 in Burundi, a country where most of the population is poor and which has the second lowest GDP in the world.

Using data from the 2018 CEX, one may learn something else concerning American expenditure on entertainment. The top 10% of highest income (before taxes) households in the U.S. had an average of 3.2 persons and spent an average annual expenditure of $142,554. That amounted to around $122 spent per day per person: each person spent approximately $6.64 a day on entertainment. Notice that the $122 is less than the $194 of America’s wealth. 

If each of the 42,134,400 persons of the above top 10% were to have given around $1.20, less than a fifth of what they expended on average on entertainment per day, that would be enough (at least in hard numbers) to meet the net funding requirements from June to November of this year about the World Food Programme in Burundi.

The Bigger Picture

Entertainment may not in and of itself be bad or good. One way that American expenditure on entertainment affects Americans is the amount of time they spend on entertainment. For example, in 2019, the BLS reports that watching television on average took up the most leisure time. Although Americans possibly can inform themselves about the poor in the world via television, Americans could use some of the time spent watching television to ask their representatives to support legislation that could help reduce poverty.

Kylar Cade
Photo: Flickr

Food Security and Innovation ProgramAs the world encounters one issue after another, food insecurity increases in countries with inadequate resources or less-than sufficient agriculture systems. With the pandemic at the helm and climate change an ongoing phenomenon, to survive these stressful times, innovative strategies are necessary. In this advanced society, new ways are necessary to process, distribute and reshape food production. Connections between food security and innovation seem far-fetched, but the United Arab Emirates/UAE’s food security and innovation program has found state-of-the-art techniques that relieve their people of this struggle.

Key Constraints Facing Food Security

The UAE aims to rank in the top 10 in the Global Food Security Index by 2021, and number one by 2051. In this arid region, however, traditional farming is next to impossible from limited water for irrigation and an unequal ratio between people and the UAE’s production. Due to these hardships, the country is reliant on its imports. For a food-dependent country, when disaster hits, food systems are unstable.

While there are several reasons for poor food production in the UAE, the scarcity of water contributes heavily. Most of the water in the country is recycle and reused, but this process can only occur for a given amount of time. Given that traditional agriculture utilizes a significant amount of water, UAE’s food security and innovation program is the answer. . To combat the issue of their unstable food system, the UAE has set up the FoodTech Challenge. This global competition seeks out innovative solutions for the country to address food production and distribution.

Vertical Farming: An Innovative Farming Technique

In response to the FoodTech Challenge, the company Smart Acres has provided a technique that utilizes vertical farming to support the UAE’s food security and innovation program. Vertical farming consists of vertically stacked plants, providing more produce per square area, resembling green walls as displayed in shopping centers. Smart Acres used South Korean vertical farming technology to decrease water usage and monitor temperature and nutrients. Regarding the UAE’s water issue, vertical farms save over 90% of the water in comparison to conventional farming methods. The constant flow of water across the plants provides the necessary nutrients for all the plants to grow. This high-tech design allows the company to produce clean crops without any chemicals and negligible interference.

Although the farm has not been implemented yet, this form of food production is expected to produce 12 cycles of crops annually; the farm will expand from Abu Dhabi to the rest of the country gradually. By using vertical farming, this technique expects to produce approximately 8,000 kilograms of lettuce and other leafy greens per cycle. In addition to the increased number of crops, the variety is also expected to increase and include items, such as strawberries, arugula, potatoes, etc.

Aquaculture Farming: Decreasing the Dependence of Imports

On average, the UAE consumes 220,000 tons of fish annually. However, imported food is 90% of the UAE’s diet, suggesting that advancements in the country’s aquaculture would be beneficial. To aid the seafood industry in the UAE, the Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Center has taken the responsibility to use advanced technology to harvest marine organisms. The center utilizes photo-bioreactors to generate food for juvenile fish.

In addition to manufacturing primary live food for marine organisms, UAE’s food security and innovation program also include water recycling technologies, where water is cycled through fish tanks to reduce water consumption. To make aquaculture a more efficient and sustainable system in the country, the center is establishing a disease diagnostic laboratory, which will reduce the number of disease-related deaths associated with marine life.

While many countries face tumultuous times currently, UAE’s food security and innovation program seems to be a ticket out of poverty. Through the FoodTech Challenge, the country has found multiple viable options to strengthen its food system. With water scarcity, a large problem regarding food production, both vertical and aquaculture farming, has found a way to recycle the limited water and attend to other problems the UAE faces, such as dependence on imports from other countries. The challenge is open to the entire country, increasing the country’s opportunity in establishing a sustainable system. Through these systems, the UAE’s food security and innovation program is well on its way to stabilizing its food security and achieving its goal as a titleholder in the Global Food Security Index.

Aditi Prasad
Photo: Flickr

Global Maker Challenge
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity (the Global Prosperity Initiative) launched the second cohort of its Global Maker Challenge in late 2019, in Abu Dhabi. The challenge is an innovation-based contest that brings together entrepreneurs from around the world to present ideas and solutions for promoting global prosperity and improving living standards.

Global Maker Challenge 2019 Themes

The Global Prosperity Initiative partnered with 10 U.N. agencies as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solve, a marketplace for social impact initiatives, to select four themes that Global Maker Challenge submissions must follow. This cohort’s themes are (1) Sustainable and Healthy Food for All, (2) Climate Change, (3) Innovation for Inclusive Trade and (4) Innovation for Peace and Justice. Nearly 3,400 participants submitted cutting-edge ideas — including web and mobile applications, machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence and cloud-based solutions.

The Finalists

In the end, 20 finalists (five from each section) were chosen by a select group of experts from U.N. agencies, global organizations, digital innovation companies, NGOs and academia. The final projects selected stood out among the rest because they were both affordable and scalable — two characteristics that are critical when working with disadvantaged communities. Limited infrastructure and resources  are often some of the greatest challenges that must be overcome.

Category Objectives and Finalist List

  1. Sustainable and Healthy Food for All: Ideas submitted to this category aim to address issues regarding access to sustainable and nutritious food among growing urban populations, as well as reducing hunger and malnutrition. Finalists presented solutions for storing fresh produce and extending the shelf life of foods. Finalists accomplished this using temperature control hubs and sustainable packaging that reduces waste. Another finalist introduced an idea for a social enterprise that makes affordable and nutritious food more accessible to low-income communities.
  2. Climate Change: Contestants focused on promoting sustainability and efficient resource use to lower carbon emission and eliminate waste. Several finalists addressed the textile industry and how to make its materials more sustainable. Submissions included technologies to create biodegradable textiles from plant-based materials, upcycled plastic and ethical sourcing. Other projects addressed the issue of climate change in different ways, such as generating electricity from wastewater and creating a circulation system to convert compost into fertilizer.
  3. Innovation for Inclusive Trade: This category aims to increase the market inclusivity of rural populations to promote global, economic growth. Finalists introduced several digital platforms that provide access to financial literacy tools and empower small business owners. Ideas included an application providing financial tools and market information to emerging enterprises. Also, platforms for connecting rural farmers to international markets and mapping tools — which increase the visibility of small retailers.
  4. Innovation for Peace and Justice: Contestants provided solutions for displaced populations and refugees seeking essential services and resources. Several finalists focused on making education more accessible. Ideas included virtual reality classrooms for students in underserved communities. Also, technology training and legal services for residents of refugee camps and solar-powered learning hubs. Other finalists presented solutions for improving the quality of life of displaced populations, such as user-managed identification and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) learning technology and games.

Final Pitch

Finalists will present their solutions in a series of virtual pitches, starting in late August 2020 and commencing in early September of the same year — during the Global Maker Challenge Award Ceremony. Prizes include project funding and mentorship worth up to $1 million.

Seeing the Big Picture

The second cohort of the Global Maker Challenge comes at a critical time. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable groups lack humanitarian aid, social protection and stimulus packages. Unless action is taken, as many as 50 million people could fall into extreme poverty, as a result of the pandemic. Innovation and collaboration are powerful tools for developing solutions to unprecedented challenges. Today’s entrepreneurs and designers provide hope for overcoming setbacks caused by the pandemic and maintaining progress towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Sylvie Antal
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid AssistanceThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a Middle Eastern country made up of seven emirates. Each emirate has a unique ruler, but one of those rulers acts as the president of the entire UAE. The population of the UAE is 9.2 million and their GDP was $421.14 billion in 2019. This makes them one of the richest countries in the Middle East. Thankfully, over the years, the UAE has been utilizing a portion of its GDP to provide foreign aid assistance.

The Goal of the UAE’s Foreign Aid Assistance

The UAE aims to be unbiased in its humanitarian assistance, not focusing on politics or beliefs. This is a byproduct of the UAE’s mission for tolerance. The UAE has made multiple initiatives in recent years to promote tolerance not only in their foreign affairs but also in their domestic affairs. At the end of 2018, President H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed declared 2019 the Year of Tolerance. To push this goal forward, the UAE began teaching tolerance in schools, focused on promoting more tolerant policy, and created a number of organizations to promote tolerant objectives. In order to carry out these aims internationally, the UAE’s Cabinet formed the UAE Humanitarian Committee. The committee brings together experts in the field to ensure that their foreign aid is efficient and moral.

History

According to the UAE’s website, the UAE provided more than 47 billion AED in foreign aid assistance from 1971 to 2014. Africa is the largest recipient of the UAE’s foreign aid. However, the UAE also provided assistance to those in their neighboring communities. In 2015, the UAE was named the World’s Top Humanitarian Donor as a percentage of its GDP for the year 2013. The Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development gave this award. In 2013 the UAE provided roughly 5.89 billion U.S. dollars in foreign aid, equal to about 1.33% of their GDP. More than 140 countries received this aid, and it focused on issues such as health, education and social services.

Present Day

The year 2020 has been tumultuous for every country due to COVID-19, causing many nations to focus solely on domestic affairs. The UAE has remained dedicated to its mission regarding foreign aid assistance. It has also been making strides to ensure that both their people and other countries have the tools they need to combat this global pandemic.

A major factory was repurposed to produce only N95 masks in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. This factory has the capacity to produce more than 90,000 masks per day. To date, the UAE has provided more than 1,000 metric tons of foreign aid assistance in response to COVID-19. Additionally, $10 million was donated by the UAE via the World Health Organization. The donation went toward COVID-19 testing kits.

In addition to their COVID-19 foreign aid response, the UAE has been a major player in foreign aid assistance to those affected by the Beirut Port explosion. On August 4, 2020, two explosions caused the death of close to 200 people. They also destroyed the homes of many more in Lebanon. The UAE has utilized its organization, the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), to provide foreign aid assistance in Lebanon after this tragedy. This aid focuses on providing medical supplies and medical support.

 

The UAE has set an example not only of the degree in which countries should engage in foreign humanitarian assistance but also in the way they should do so. Humanitarian assistance is not about a country’s beliefs, geography or affairs. Instead, humanitarian assistance is about facilitating a more equal society where everyone is able to fulfill their basic needs.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: The National

Hunger in the United Arab Emirates
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates is synonymous with trading, tourism and affluence. Even considering the significant economic resources of the seven emirates, food security and nutrition are matters of great concern. With a growing population of 9.7 million people, decisive and comprehensive action is necessary to address issues of hunger in the United Arab Emirates.

Dietary Energy and Undernourishment

The Emirates faces difficulties in its agricultural sector primarily due to geography. In a remarkably arid region where viable farmland is precious, external sources of food have to be considered. The complex interplay of these food source factors means that hunger in the United Arab Emirates is of real concern. Between 2000 and 2008, the prevalence of undernourishment increased from 2.50% to 6% in the population. In response, the government instituted programs such as the Ziraii program to address the rising figures. For every year since 2010, the undernourishment figures have gradually decreased and become more manageable. As of 2017, the statistic had decreased to 2.60%. The trends signal a continued decline, which seems to be due to, in large part, the implementation of a long-term plan.

National Food Security Strategy 2051

In 2018, the Emirati government announced a sweeping new initiative designed to bring hunger in the United Arab Emirates down to zero. The online government portal states that the strategy seeks to “make the UAE the world’s best in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 and among the top 10 countries by 2021.” Sustainability is a key point of focus and tackled in a variety of ways. The Ziraii program invests in farmers in order to encourage growth in the sector and trains them to increase the efficiency of farms overall. The program awards interest-free loans and maximizes technological advances in hydroponics. Damage to the environment as a result of these practices is a priority as well. The strain on natural resources is set to reduce as much as possible, as the agricultural policy elements outline.

Beyond just domestic changes, tackling hunger in the United Arab Emirates has an essential international aspect as well. Investment in “agriculture projects abroad, especially in Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, Namibia, Sudan, and the Americas,” is a major element. Doing so allows for greater control over variations in the food market, which simultaneously secures a higher degree of food security. This is paramount as imports from foreign nations allow the Emirates to ensure that sufficient food is available.

A Boost from Entrepreneurship

As the U.A.E. continues its mission to conquer hunger, it has partnered with private entrepreneurs focused on the same goals. Abdulaziz Al Mulla is one of these entrepreneurs. He is the founder of Madar Farms, which utilizes transformative vertical farming techniques. Al Mulla quickly transitioned into the sphere while working at a management consulting firm and researching the situation. His work is quickly gaining ground in the market, which backing from the 2051 strategy has cultivated. Others recognizing both the sustainability problems and potential profits have also moved into space. For the United Arab Emirates and its people, a joint government and private sector initiative stand to make a substantive difference.

Alan Mathew
Photo: Flickr

Crisis in YemenTucked between Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aden, Yemen is suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis – and COVID-19 may be the final straw that wipes the Middle Eastern country off the map.

The current crisis in Yemen arises from a complex history of unrest. From 2010 to 2012, the Arab Spring ushered in a period of political rebellion throughout the Middle East. Accordingly, Yemen’s push for democracy facilitated the rocky transition of power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to his vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Years of domestic hardship followed.

Islamic Houthi rebels and Saleh loyalists capitalized on Hadi’s weak state and seized control of the capital city of Sanaa in 2014. The following year, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates formed a coalition of states to invade Yemen, overpower the Houthi-Saleh rebels and reinstate Hadi’s government. More recently, coalition and Houthi alliances splintered, with Yemen as the battleground for new factions.

According to the Human Rights Watch, Saudi-led coalition attacks constitute a majority of the violence in Yemen, with approximately 12 airstrikes per day. Even so, all competing forces contribute to the bloodshed. Civilian deaths and injuries clock in at 17,500 since the conflict escalated in 2015.

Civil War, COVID-19 and Crisis: Yemen is a City on Fire

The onset of the highly infectious COVID-19 set Yemen’s conflict on fire; what remains is a full-blown crisis. Amid continued violence, 24 million Yemenis – 80% of the national population – are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. COVID-19 has worsened the already scarce supply of sanitation and clean water. Health care facilities have been dramatically reduced in capacity.

Thus far, the world has deprived 12 million Yemeni children of humanitarian aid. Innocent boys and girls are fighting for survival, some of which have yet to utter their first words. Moreover, pre-COVID-19, 2 million children faced barriers to education. Now, Yemen has 7.8 million children without schooling due to nation-wide closures.

The US Role in Yemen: Two Sides of a Different Coin

In the U.S., national headlines oscillate between COVID-19 and Donald Trump’s Twitter, with little to no mention of the ongoing crisis in Yemen. Though public awareness lacks, political action has indeed transpired on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. has funneled $721 million in humanitarian assistance to Yemen since 2017. In response to the pandemic, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo directed an additional $225 million in USAID funding to help the resource-stricken country.

Despite seemingly well-intended aid, the U.S. government’s support of coalition states tells a different story. A coalition powerhouse, Saudi Arabia’s authoritarian regime and aggressive military tactics clash against American pillars of democracy and peace. The Saudi-led coalition fly planes fueled by the U.S. military and drop bombs purchased in ongoing munition sales with the United States.

In fact, the U.N. Group of Eminent Experts suspected that the U.S., “may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen through arms sales and intelligence support given to the Saudi-led coalition.”

This year, Congress passed a bipartisan bill to scale back detrimental U.S. involvement in Yemen, ending the practice of the U.S. military refueling aircraft and using intelligence to support the coalition. Ultimately, President Trump vetoed the resolution, and Congress neglected to override Trump’s vote.

In an exclusive interview with The Borgen Project, Rep. Jared Huffman of California explained the significance of the Congressional statement: “I think that tells you that there is bipartisan support for distancing the United States from the military campaign from the Saudis in Yemen and for taking a more humanitarian approach.”

The Future of Fighting Against Crisis in Yemen

The crisis in Yemen presents as convoluted at best and depressing at worst. Fortunately, Huffman sheds light on the efforts unfolding within Congress, and there is a reason for optimism. Huffman declares, “There will be amendments and debates in the days ahead on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, and I am sure there will be Yemen amendments as part of that. And so, we’ll keep trying. We’re months away from a national election and some changes that could make it possible for us to go even further.”

Hence, war wages on in Yemen as people battle each other and COVID-19. Yet, another battleground begins at the voting ballot; the upcoming U.S. elections could decide the role the government plays in Middle Eastern politics. In addition, those compelled to help Yemen can donate to reputable organizations, such as UNICEF  or Save The Children.

Maya Gonzales
Photo: Wikimedia

Eating Disorders' Global SpreadEating disorders are often presented as a western-world problem. Portrayals of eating disorders (EDs) to the general public suggest white, middle to upper-class females are the ones mostly affected. However, ED statistics demonstrate that all races, genders and ethnic groups are susceptible. As westernization continues, eating disorders’ global spread ignites.

Eating disorders cause approximately one death every 62 minutes. Medical professionals agree this number is likely higher because many ED cases are overlooked and not recorded as the cause of death. Out of all mental illnesses, “eating disorders have the highest mortality rate.” In developing countries where mental health resources are scarce, untreated people live dangerously exposed.

Increased Risk in Developing Countries

The long term health consequences associated with EDs are brutal. Typically, in countries where psychiatric help is unavailable, general healthcare services are lacking for those below the poverty line. Furthermore, in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), mental illness is a serious taboo. Although sterilization is no longer a treatment for people experiencing mental health problems, there are still a lot of stigmas associated with them. They often lead to discrimination and prevent people from seeking help when needed. In these countries, psychiatric professionals able to help are nearly impossible to find.

In circumstances where someone living with an ED is not able to access medical assistance, the lack of access to treatment has persistent ramifications on a person’s body, such as experiencing pain caused by blocked intestines, muscle deterioration, cardiac pain, tooth decay or swollen jaw.

People living long-term with an ED have higher mortality rates. Living with an ED in a developing country is often a death sentence. Causes of death can include stomach ruptures, esophagus tears, kidney failure and cardiac arrest. To see reduced ED fatality rates, countries need psychiatric and medical resources. The number of countries that cannot provide these services advances the global spread of eating disorders.

Why Eating Disorders Occur in Impoverished Countries

The expansion and acceptance of Western culture are largely responsible for increasing ED cases around the world. Multiple studies evaluated the extent to which Westernization affects the elevated rate of eating disorder populations.

On the islands of Fiji, researchers conducted an observational study of EDs. The results of the study showed the impact of Western media. In the past, Fijians valued heavier body types as the image of beauty. When TV became commonly available in Fijian society during the late 1900s, ED rates were less than 1%. Three years later, a survey found 15% of teenage girls in Fiji vomited to keep their weight down.

An article published by the University of Columbia in the Journal of Eating Disorders analyzed Asia’s reaction to Westernization. The findings disprove the notion that eating disorders occur only in Western cultures. The article concludes by expanding the concept to all developing countries. These results strongly suggest that “eating disorders are not culture-bound or culture-specific, but rather culture-reactive.”

Westernization influences nearly every country in the world. Urbanization, population growth and newly introduced media further perpetuate eating disorders’ global spread. The most vulnerable countries are those that have little protection against virtually any form of addiction.

Outreach Combating Eating Disorders’ Global Spread

Eating disorder communities and organizations reach beyond their home countries. Outreach projects, such as international conferences, online training and collaboration between countries’ healthcare services, help protect people who are living with an ED and deprived of treatment. 

Originally the national charity Beat was solely based in the U.K. Now, Beat partners with international efforts in providing ED relief. The charity’s most well-known contribution is its international helpline service. Beat responded quickly to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, seeing helpline calls escalate by 30%. In response, Beat offers an online training course to recruit more volunteers.

The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation (IAEDP Foundation) plays a role in halting eating disorders’ global spread. The IAEDP Foundation provides high-quality ED education to international multidisciplinary groups. Core courses and certifications are available in a home study format. The goal is to improve ED knowledge amongst medical professionals so people living with EDs have more opportunities for support. 

The Austrian Society on Eating Disorders (ASED) dedicates itself to establishing a network of occupational groups with ED experience. As an international network, ASED creates guidelines catered specifically to each country’s culture. ASED encourages countries to begin scientific research in ED detection, treatment and prevention. By fostering international co-operation and education, ASED hopes to expand ED resources.

Hope for the Future

Eating disorders are complex and threatening illnesses. In the Western world, health checkups and residential treatment options, in addition to emotional and nutritional therapy, encourage recovery. However, even with these resources, ED recovery can take years; if unsuccessful, EDs may result in death. For those living in highly impoverished countries, years easily turn into lifetime struggles with EDs that could end one’s life abruptly. Luckily, outreach programs enhance efforts to bring awareness and ultimately decrease ED casualty rates. Without these promising efforts, eating disorders’ global spread would continue to permeate communities around the world.

Grace Elise Van Valkenburg

Photo: U.N. 

 

Poverty in the United Arab Emirates
When Americans think of the United Arab Emirates, they may often think of cities like Dubai consisting of staggering skyscrapers, extravagant lifestyles and unimaginable wealth. Americans may not always see the underlying struggles that many Emirates deal with on a day-to-day basis. Aspects of poverty include a dominating wealth gap, which exists at the expense of migrant workers, water insecurity and issues regarding food supply. This article will address each of these facets of poverty in the United Arab Emirates while also discussing the efforts to help people suffering today.

Wealth Inequality and Migrant Workers

According to the World Inequality Database, the top 1% of Emiratis constitute about 22.8% of total income in the UAE, while the bottom 50% of Emiratis make up only 5.8%. As for wealth, the top 1% of individuals in the UAE hold over 50% of the entire country’s wealth.

The UAE is indeed a rich nation, yet few understand the makeup of this wealth. The upper echelons of Emirati society hold the majority of this wealth and income, which leaves far more individuals struggling for what is left. Foreign nationals make up as much as 88% of the population in the UAE, and migrant workers often receive low pay and work in forced labor.

The country has made some progress in the arena of workers’ rights. For example, an unprecedented bill passed in 2017, guaranteeing certain labor rights. However, the visa sponsorship program in the UAE still ties migrant workers to their employers with strict punishments for those who leave. Systemic financial inequality and lax workers’ rights policies force migrant workers to bear the brunt of poverty in the United Arab Emirates.

Water Insecurity

The U.N. defines “water-scarce” as having less than 1,000 cubic meters of water per capita, per year. The UAE has less than half of that figure. Lacking renewable freshwater, the country relies on desalination, which provides 98% of the water supply for the 2 million people in Dubai. The Water Resources Institute ranked the country 10th out of 164 countries with the most extreme water supply issues.

While desalination plants have picked up some slack, water insecurity is a looming threat in the region. The issue will likely affect members of the lowest classes of Emirati society first. Luckily, organizations like the nonprofit UAE Water Aid Foundation, or SUQIA, are working to provide accessible, potable water throughout the world. Since 2015, SUQIA has helped by improving water purification practices, building wells, installing water coolers and improving water distribution networks and sanitation facilities. This aid organization has expanded its efforts outside the UAE, helping over 13 million individuals suffering from water insecurity in 36 countries. Improving water access and sustainability has a direct impact on millions suffering from predatory labor norms and poverty in the United Arab Emirates.

Food Supply

The lack of a sustainable source of freshwater means the UAE cannot grow enough food to support its population. As such, the UAE relies on imports for 90% of its food supply. This causes the nation to be extremely vulnerable to global shortages and price changes. While the UAE is able to provide food to most of its citizens, projections determine that its population could grow by over 2 million people in the next five years, which could increase pressure on the fragile food supply. Consumption is similarly growing by 12% each year. Migrant workers and other less-wealthy individuals could suffer first because of this growth.

Less than 5% of the land in the UAE is arable farmland, yet over 80% of the water in the country goes to this tiny agriculture sector. As a result, entrepreneurs like those at Madar Farms are working to increase productivity. The company, led by Abdulaziz Al Mulla, purchased old storage containers and repurposed them into indoor farms, growing vegetables under LED lights. These efforts have also translated to the Persian Gulf, where the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment has built artificial caves and established coral gardens to improve the sustainability of fish farming. Doing so enhances the sustainable food supply, which will largely help those suffering from poverty in the United Arab Emirates. National programs like this reduce the risk of a hunger crisis should global supply plummet.

Poverty in the United Arab Emirates

While few associate poverty with the UAE, the reality is that millions struggle to provide for themselves and their families. Restrictive labor policies in the country provide little help to people in lower socioeconomic classes. Water insecurity is a relatively well-known issue in the UAE, but few recognize hunger as a common problem.

In truth, the UAE has been able to provide for most of its people, but it is easy to overlook everyday threats. Water insecurity and food supply will harm impoverished Emiratis far before they reach the wealthy classes associated with the country. Luckily, organizations like SUQIA and Madar farms are at the forefront of building workable solutions. These efforts provide hope for the UAE, a country that would suffer if left to rely solely on global markets.

Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

Food Security in the DesertThe desert is an ecosystem that does not have adequate moisture and nutrients to grow food. People living in these areas often rely heavily on food imports because of this lack of fertile soil. Approximately 5 percent of land in the Middle East and North Africa regions has sufficient amounts of water. That small amount of viable land has suffered mismanagement, resulting in shortages and limitations in agricultural regrowth after natural disasters and war. Fortunately, scientists and organizations around the world are developing ways to boost food security in the desert. Luckily, there are two programs in Syria and the United Arab Emirates that are attempting to feed people in arid regions.

Hydroponics in Syria

The prolonged war in Syria has destroyed the once-booming agricultural industry, diminishing food security in the desert. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated the loss of the agricultural exports sector to be around $16 billion. This number does not include the destruction of fertile land and crops that fed the people of Syria.

British scientists brought green technologies to Syrian refugee camps to promote food security in the desert. Through these programs, refugees learn how to grow crops where fertilized soil is not available. This process uses recycled materials like mattresses; another process uses an indoor planting technique called hydroponics. Hydroponics is a growing technique that uses nutrient-rich water mixtures instead of soil to grow fruits and vegetables.

These projects allow people in refugee camps to become self-sufficient in terms of agriculture. Individuals can use these skills for future gardening and farming once resettled. The project has taught almost 1,000 people sustainable agriculture practices such as growing tomatoes, eggplants and peppers in refugee camps. Using technologies to grow vegetables in places with infertile land will help individuals and countries develop sustainability.

Pure Harvest in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The United Arab Emirates has a climate of severe heat. The high temperatures and harsh conditions present serious issues for conventional farming methods. Due to this extreme climate, the country imports roughly 80 percent of the total amount of food consumed. The emergence of sustainable and innovative agriculture occurred from the need for alternative farming methods.

Pure Harvest began the pursuit of climate-controlled hydroponic greenhouses in 2016. This company aims to help the UAE become more self-sufficient in the government’s efforts to improve food security in the desert. In 2018, the company’s soccer field-sized facility in the Abu Dhabi desert produced its first tomato plants. Since then, it has produced approximately two tons of tomatoes per day.

The success of the first greenhouse has gained positive attention around the world. More desert communities are interested in building greenhouses to increase food security in the desert. Not only do these greenhouses allow crops to grow in arid parts of the world, but they are also producing enough of a surplus to create an agricultural market economy to the desert.

The war-torn areas and severe climates pose threats to food security in the desert, and technology is a crucial tool for mitigating these threats. Innovative methods such as hydroponics in refugee camps and building greenhouses on infertile land are just the start of a transformation that will provide more self-sufficiency and food security in the desert.

Ashleigh Litcofsky
Photo: Wikipedia Commons