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

Facts About Education in the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates started focusing on building a modern, mass-scale education system after its independence from Britain in 1971. In the past 50 years, the country revolutionized its education system aligning itself both with a modern and Western approach. Below are eight facts about education in the United Arab Emirates.

8 Facts About Education in the United Arab Emirates

  1. The UAE achieved universal education which was part of its ‘Education for All’ initiative, thus focusing on a new challenge for its UAE Vision 2021, that is, quality education. Its primary goal is to create a ‘first-rate education system,’ intended to enable students in the UAE to rank among the best in the world in the fields of mathematics, reading and science. To achieve this, the government proposes a transformation of the education system and intends to use Smart systems and devices as a basis for new teaching methods. In doing so, the UAE aligns its own national agenda to the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, aiming to achieve quality education as its Target 4.
  2. The UAE now focuses on ways to develop the economy outside the hydrocarbons sector and sees education as the key to do so. The core mission of the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan 2017-2021 is to develop an education system adapted to generate a high-skilled and knowledge-based competitive economy. The founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, stated that the “greatest use that can be made of wealth is to invest it in creating generations of educated and trained people… [T]he prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education”.
  3. Literacy is a powerful tool against poverty, and the literacy rate in the UAE has increased from 54 percent among adult men and 31 percent among adult women in 1975 to almost 95 percent for both genders in 2019. Besides this considerable improvement, the government is now working on increasing the inclusivity of the education system to migrant workers too, in order to further close the wealth gap in the UAE.
  4. The education system in the UAE comprises both private and public education. Public education, from primary school through university, is free for all Emirati citizens and is entirely funded by the government. The primary language of instruction is Arabic and English is often taught as a secondary language. Public school enrollment is also accessible to non-UAE citizens, provided they pay a tuition fee, however, only 26 percent of the total enrolled students in the UAE are enrolled in public schools.
  5. Approximately 74 percent of students are enrolled in private schools, representing a huge part of the education system. This is mostly due to the transient nature of the expatriate population that opts for international schools. There is an increasing demand for private-sector education in the UAE, and according to the Boston Consulting Group, there is an expected growth in the education market from $4.4 billion in 2017 to over $7 billion by 2023.
  6. The UAE aims to improve considerably its tertiary education system in order to retain a higher number of Emirati citizens in enrolling in tertiary degrees, as well as attract students from abroad. The UAE has an extremely high outbound student mobility ratio, as 7.1 percent of UAE nationals enrolled in tertiary degrees abroad in 2016. Moreover, its inbound mobility ratio is one of the highest in the world, attaining 48.6 percent in 2016.
  7. The UAE emphasizes the importance of inclusiveness and quality education for all and has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol in 2006. The government strongly supports people with disabilities/special needs and has included federal laws to protect the rights of people with special, guaranteeing equal education opportunities. In addition, the UAE aims to increase the inclusiveness of special needs children in mainstream educational environments, through various initiatives and as a part of its 2020 agenda.
  8. In 2019, the UAE allocated a $2.79 billion budget to Education, representing 17 percent of its total federal budget. A part of it will go towards the establishment of an Education Support Fund to incentivize partnerships and involvement with the private sector, in order to achieve its upcoming goals and priorities.

 

These eight facts about education in the United Arab Emirates illustrate the achievements and progress made in the country’s education system and highlights the ambitious aims and goals the UAE has for the future.

Andrea Duleux
Photo: Flickr

HIV in the United Arab Emirates
HIV infection is a critical global health threat and a prevailing issue in the Middle East, which had the second fastest-growing HIV epidemic in 2016. Although some identify the HIV/AIDS situation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as low-prevalence, there are some substantial concerns that people should not neglect. The recent shift in attitude towards HIV in the UAE contributes to addressing the existing concerns and issues.

HIV Data

The UAE ranks as number one in the world for the lowest prevalence of HIV (per percentage of the adult population). However, it is crucial to keep several factors in mind; the country only includes the local population in the available data as anyone who applies for a residence/work permit in the UAE must take a medical examination identifying HIV-negative results. In addition, the UAE may deport those already living in the UAE who test HIV-positive.

The first cases of HIV in the UAE emerged in reports in the 1980s and reached a cumulative total of 780 cases among UAE national citizens by the end of 2012. According to the World Health Organization, the number of new HIV cases per year increased from 25 in 2010 to 49 in 2016, which, despite the increase, remains significantly low. Due to the lack of available recent data on HIV seroprevalence in the UAE, increases in the number of cases are neither precise or updated. Indeed, the reported number of cases only represent the people who had officially registered themselves during screenings of blood donations, premarital testing, pregnancies and patients with tuberculosis. Accordingly, the available data may underrepresent or exclude groups with the highest risk exposure including people who have sexual relations and those who inject drugs.

Current Issues

HIV/ AIDS remains a sensitive and taboo topic in the UAE due to the lack of knowledge and awareness regarding the issue as well as strong beliefs that people can only transmit HIV through religiously forbidden sexual relations. Indeed, a study from 2016 identified 48 percent of students as having low knowledge on the topic and misconceptions, contributing to the stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV.  

As Human Rights Watch reported, prisoners with HIV in the UAE suffer segregation and isolation from others in the prison, thus facing systemic stigma and discrimination. Moreover, non-national detainees with HIV encounter considerable risks while in Emirati prisons, as reports determined that the prisons denied some lifesaving HIV treatments. Indeed, prison authorities have sometimes delayed or interrupted critical medical treatment for several months, thus increasing the feasibility of health deterioration for non-nationals. Moreover, Human Rights Watch emphasizes the obligation the UAE has to provide appropriate health care to all prisoners without discriminating against non-nationals and reiterates that denying or interrupting medical treatment is a violation of the right to health and possibly the right to life.

Response and Progress

The UAE is shifting its approach regarding the topic of HIV/AIDS and making efforts to strengthen its fight against the virus. The UAE’s National Aids Programme is increasing its transparency and working with the United Nations on reports shedding light on the prevalence of HIV in the UAE. Furthermore, the UAE has aligned its national agenda to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as both a member of the United Nations and a major international donor. UAE’s Vision 2021 strengthens the importance of improving its health care system and preventing diseases. An essential health-related target in the SDG agenda involves ending the epidemics of AIDS and communicable diseases (Target 3.3), which the UAE specifically addresses in its 2021 national agenda targets.

Dismantling the barrier of HIV/AIDS as a taboo topic in the United Arab Emirates is, nevertheless, crucial for the country to achieve its upcoming targets and reinforce its aspirations for the future. Despite the prevailing issues regarding HIV in the United Arab Emirates, the seven Emirates have demonstrated some progress and willingness to improve the situation by working with international institutions such as the United Nations.

Andrea Duleux
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the United Arab EmiratesIn the United Arab Emirates (UAE), skyscrapers, luxury vehicles, high-end shops and fast food chains line the streets. The country appears to be wealthy and in many ways it is. However, poverty in the UAE paint a picture of exclusion from the comfort, luxury and beauty that attracts so many tourists to the nation.

Facts About Poverty in the United Arab Emirates

  1. The poverty rate in the UAE is 19.5 percent, juxtaposing the stereotypes that many associate with the UAE. The poverty line in the UAE is defined as an income of 80 dirham ($22) a day.
  2. The UAE is mostly populated by immigrants from South Asia, Egypt and Morocco. Expatriates make up 88 percent of the UAE’s population. This percent also makes up the majority of the population living below the poverty line.
  3. Migrant workers often have to pay recruitment agencies to find legitimate work in the UAE. Many become immediately indebted to these agencies, rendering them susceptible to economic hardship.
  4. Human Rights Watch reported in September 2017 that the UAE adopted a protective labor legislation for migrant domestic workers. This piece of legislation has prohibited recruitment agencies from charging fees. However, there are still glaring weaknesses in UAE labor laws, especially those dealing with migrant workers. Millions of workers, particularly those with an “illegal status” in the UAE, are still paid unlivable wages and forced to work under extreme or unsafe conditions.
  5. The wealth gap between rich and poor in the UAE is one of the worst in the world, largely due to the amount of welfare and protection afforded to native Emiratis and the amount of neglect towards migrant workers.
  6. Increasing the inclusivity of the education system is one way that the UAE is working to reduce poverty. The UAE government has begun integrating a National Literacy Strategy while employing the Ministry of Education to create several strategies to further develop the education system.
  7. The UAE’s failure to integrate its citizens into the private sector of the economy has contributed to its high levels of poverty. Only 0.34 percent of Emiratis work in the private sector, which is largely due to the sociocultural stigma around service jobs. The government has made several attempts to break this association and promote citizen employment in all sectors. They do so through education initiatives, but the welfare system allows many Emiratis to work very little or not at all and still maintain their livelihood.
  8. The Emiritization initiative has been in place for decades now and requires every company with more than 100 employees to have a certain number of Emiratis on their payrolls. The program has been effective in the public sector, but has largely failed to address the lack of workforce participation within the private sector.
  9. Expatriates are fined for overstaying their visas, while being prohibited from leaving the country until their debts are paid. Fines range between 25 and 100 dirhams ($7-$27) for every day beyond their visa expiration date. The economic desperation invoked by this policy, on top of the desperation caused by recruitment fees, has made immigrants especially vulnerable to labor exploitation in the UAE.
  10. According to The News Tribune, officials reported that 25,000 migrant workers exceeded their stay in 2017 alone. The UAE has recognized the difficult situation created by their fine policy. On August 1, 2018, the government launched an amnesty program, forgiving all fines associated with overstaying visas and granting new visas.

The facts about poverty in the United Arab Emirates reveal several systematic issues within the country. The improvements made on workers’ rights in the UAE cannot and should not overshadow the immense amount of work has to be done to allow an avenue of escape for impoverished migrant workers. The abuse of migrant labor, which the UAE largely depends, is perhaps the biggest problem it must tackle in order to address the overarching issue of poverty.

– Julius Long
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) GDP per capita is a whopping 49,000, and the unemployment rate is as low as 2.4 percent. At first glance, the country appears to be thriving with room for growth; yet, there is a large population living in poverty in the UAE. This is not present in the news as the focus is usually on the prosperous cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, both of which control the majority of the UAE’s total wealth.

This media focus gives outsiders the illusion of a rich and prospering country, and here are 10 facts about poverty in the United Arab Emirates worth knowing.

Facts About Poverty in the United Arab Emirates

  1. There is no official data on poverty in the UAE. The government does not release official data regarding any local poverty levels. This lack of facts should raise some questions regarding the government’s concerns and relief efforts.
  2. The UAE is one of the top ten richest countries in the world, and yet a large percentage of the population lives in poverty — an estimated 19.5 percent. This percentage is alarming as the nation is still considered wealthy on the whole even though almost a fifth of its people are not.
  3. Abu Dhabi and Dubai control 83.2 percent of the UAE’s wealth. This means that the other five emirates depend on the federal government for financial support.
  4. At least 98 percent of the families that get help from government aid have loans that prohibit them from paying for living essentials. Some blame this on the high standards of society and the cost of living expenses in the UAE.
  5. There are rules to receiving governmental financial aid. Before one is eligible for aid, the government looks at a family’s income, properties, ratio of family member to rooms, rent and health statuses.
  6. Poverty in the UAE can be seen in the labor conditions of the working class. Migrants come to Dubai looking for work and send remittances back to their families. They are promised good pay and healthy living conditions; unfortunately, these assurances are rarely fulfilled.
  7. The economic crisis of 2008 confused poverty statistics. Pre-economic crisis, the poverty rate of the UAE was around 20 percent; currently, the UAE reports their poverty rate to be zero, based on a poverty line of around $22 a day.
  8. Reporters in the UAE are discouraged to write about poverty. The government controls information surrounding the state and has the power to suppress facts about reality.
  9. The economy is entirely dependent on trade and oil. Thus, government subsidies are needed when global prices fall.
  10. Economic distinctions are based on nationality and gender. Women are routinely discriminated against in hiring decisions, contributing to a gap in the poverty rates.

Room for Growth in the UAE

These facts about poverty in the United Arab Emirates show that although stable in many regards, the UAE could do with foreign aid and government assistance.

While the country has impressive employment rates and GDP per capita, the percentage of citizens living in or at poverty level is striking. Thankfully, the local government of the UAE has implemented assistance programs in an effort to reduce and relief local poverty. But also in the meantime, assistance should be offered and readily available for those in need.

– Haley Hine
Photo: Google

Education in the UAE

Education in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has undergone significant changes since the small Arab nation was founded in 1971. At that time, options for students were few and far between, but this has changed significantly in recent years.

The UAE currently offers every citizen education completely free, from kindergarten to even university. The government even funds the educational endeavors of students if they seek to further their studies abroad. Moreover, the literacy rate in the UAE is 93.1 percent for males and 95.8 percent for females, according to recent estimates. This is a significant increase from the rate of adult literacy in 1975, which was only 54 percent for men and 31 percent for women.

University enrollment rates similarly paint a more optimistic picture of the educational landscape in the UAE. About 95 percent of all girls in their final year of high school apply to university, while 80 percent of males in their final year of high school apply to university. However, education in the UAE still requires improvements in order to produce competitive students in today’s world. This is evidenced by the goals of the UAE Vision 2021, the government’s five-year plan to push the country to innovate and develop, where education is given immense importance in order to secure the future prosperity of the nation on the world stage. The UAE hopes to diversify its economy, especially by investing in the very citizens who are likely to play a major role in its future growth.

Furthermore, the benefits of improving education in the UAE are by no means vague or illusory. Indeed, Dubai Cares, the philanthropic organization based in the UAE, attempts to address poverty across the globe by means of education. This program is devoted to combating poverty and hunger through education via a variety of means – one, in particular, is to establish school programs that ensure the children are being fed in countries ranging from Ghana to Palestine. Dubai Cares firmly believes that in education lies the key to effectively fighting poverty. Another prominent example is investing in girls’ education, believing that doing so enlightens others and results in health benefits that will affect future generations.

The intersection of education and philanthropy is hardly a surprise. Educating others gives them the tools to make proper decisions that are in their long-term interest. It helps them pull themselves out of poverty and also avoid it in the future. The future returns of such an endeavor cannot be lightly dismissed since educated parents are likely to instill the same values in the younger generation.

Mohammad Hasan Javed

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in the UAEThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country most recently known for its fashion malls, luxurious lifestyle and the presence of Arab royalty.  However, the country is now also becoming known for its rate of obesity. According to a report by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, more than half of the population—roughly 66 percent of men and 60 percent of women—are considered overweight or obese. That is double the world average. Therefore, it is not unfair to state that the majority of the common diseases in the UAE are a result of these high obesity rates.

The roots of these rates are being studied to find solutions. Dr. Adbulrahman O Musaiger, the director of the Environmental and Biological Program at the Bahrain Center for Studies and Research has some insight. He stated that “over recent years, there has been a steady increase in food-energy consumption, and a lack of physical exercise is also apparent.” This has led to a jump in rates of obesity in the past decade. It is important to note here that this is a recent issue.

In addition to adults being at-risk, there has also been an increase in the prevalence of the obesity in children. The study “Increasing Obesity Rates in School Children in the United Arab Emirates” found that 40 percent of schoolchildren were overweight and a further 24.4 percent were obese.

As a result, common diseases in the UAE—in addition to obesity—include diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This increase in disease leads to some extra expenses for the UAE’s Ministry of Health. Is it estimated that the problem of obesity and diseases associated with it annually costs a whopping $56 billion.

Experts are urging that the government and citizens of the UAE quell issues of obesity through a change in diet and exercise. These changes include labeling contents of food more clearly and encouraging family doctors to offer health advice to people who suffer from obesity.

Richard Dobbs, director of the McKinsey Global Institute, suggested that “urban planning and building design need to be worked upon.” This way, staircases can be more accessible than they currently are. With small everyday changes, it is possible to bring the frequency of obesity down in the UAE.

Sydney Roeder

Photo: Google

Causes of Poverty in United Arab EmiratesCurrently, information on poverty in the United Arab Emirates is hard to find. A coordinator at the ministry of social affairs claimed in 2011 that the ministry was working on poverty research that would “be available by the end of 2011.”

While detailed information on poverty in the United Arab Emirates is still difficult to come by, information on the possible causes of poverty in the United Arab Emirates can be found.

Naturally, how poverty is looked at and tackled differs depending on the country, and as such it is to be expected that some of the causes of poverty in the United Arab Emirates should be unique. According to The National (a news agency focused on the Middle East), high levels of debt can be seen as one of the leading causes of poverty in the United Arab Emirates.

Ministry of Social Affairs research looks to society’s “high standards” as the most common factor of the impoverished; followed closely by the high standards of living. To maintain these “high standards,” the people in the United Arab Emirates are willing to apply for loans to help maintain a certain image of affluence.  However, “98 percent of families getting help from the Red Crescent (part of the Red Cross and Red Crescent) have loans that leave them unable to pay for essentials of living”.

It may be hard to believe that “image” can be counted as one of the causes of poverty in the United Arab Emirates. There are government programs and specialist foundations that are available to help with financial aid and support, however, according to the National, the main reason people do not ask for help is feelings of shame because “they think it is embarrassing.”

The United Arab Emirates is the second-wealthiest nation in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia.  The country gets comprised of six Emirates which are political territories ruled by a dynastic Islamic monarch called an Emir. The six Emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain and Fujairah.

With the widely known Titans of Burj Khalifa, the Mall of Dubai, Emirates Airline or how the country has 6 percent of the world’s oil reserves, it is easy to ignore the causes of poverty in the United Arab Emirates. However, with multiple people from nations such as Pakistan and India all looking to find their fortune in the country; the issue of poverty cannot afford to be forgotten or ignored.

Obinna Iwuji

Photo: Unsplash