Wealth in Dubai: Making Generous Strides in the Global Poverty EffortFrom a small pearl fishing village to one of the richest cities in the world, Dubai has made quite the journey. Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

People believe that wealth in Dubai stems from its oil industry. However, it only accounts for about 7 percent of its total revenue. The big bucks are in Dubai’s real estate.  Reports show that most of the state’s $82.11 billion in revenue come from its investment in real estate, airlines, and sea ports.

Dubai has shown that its population has no plans to hold onto its wealth.  The city has made tremendous strides toward the eradication of global poverty and plans to continue to do so until it is eliminated.  Forty-six years after the foundation of the UAE, international aid provided by its government and non-governmental organizations has been estimated at $15.23 billion.  This international support using wealth in Dubai makes it one of the world’s largest contributors to foreign aid.

“Foreign aid and assistance are one of the basic pillars of our foreign policy.  For we believe that there is no true benefit for us from the wealth that we have unless it does not also reach those in need, wherever they may be, and regardless of their nationality or beliefs,” founder and former president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan said.

The majority of Dubai’s foreign aid goes to programs that focus on the assistance of the poor, healthcare, energy generation, transport and storage.  In recent years, the state has put an emphasis on the pursuit of solar energy.

Dubai’s leaders say that sustainability and clean energy are priorities for any long-term resolution to issues created by poverty.  They say that further investment in solar energy will lead to its use in emergency operations, schools, refugee camps and other aid processes of this kind.

Emily Trosclair

Photo: Flickr

In front of representatives and officials from more than 80 countries, Dubai was presented with the award for “Destination of the Year” at the 10th World Health Tourism Congress.

Those in attendance at the reception, which took place in Dubai Healthcare City at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Center, included senior government officials, ministers, and health and medical experts, as well as tourism industry stakeholders.  

According to Dr. Ahmed Bin Kalban, the CEO of the Hospital Services Sector at Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the city is known for its high-quality medical care and attractiveness as a destination. Both factors are key drivers for medical tourism in Dubai, a concept in which people travel to another country to receive medical care.

The top services offered in the medical tourism field in Dubai include orthopedics, aesthetics, dental care, fertility tests, and preventive health and wellness. In the first half of this year, 260,000 medical tourists visited Dubai, generating revenues of over one billion dirhams, equivalent to more than $272 million.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, created DHA in June 2007 via Law 13 to serve as the strategic health authority for the nation. It works to set policies and strategies for health and make sure both are implemented.

DHA’s aim is to deliver an efficient, accessible and unified healthcare system, improve the quality of life, and protect public health. The mission of the body is to guarantee access to health services, improve the status of health for nationals, residents and visitors, and supervise an effective and modern health sector.

Prior to the creation of DHA, the authority for the delivery of health services in the UAE was the Department of Health and Medical Services (DOHMS), which was established in 1973.

Matt Wotus

Sources: CDC, Prometric, Zawya,
Photo: Pixabay

Education in the United Arab Emirates

Education in the United Arab Emirates adheres to a system that was developed fairly recently. The country had very few formal schools in the early 1950s, but a school building program implemented over the next two decades greatly expanded the nation’s education system. The UAE now offers universal education at the primary and secondary levels. In 2006-2007, an estimated 650,000 students maintained school enrollment in 1,256 public and private institutions.

Approximately 25 percent of total federal government spending is directed to education in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE boasts one of the world’s lowest pupil-to-teacher ratios of about 15:1 and education is required through the ninth grade, although the U.S. Department of State remains skeptical of the degree to which this rule is enforced. There are no alarming disparities in school enrollment across genders, with an 85 percent primary school enrollment rate for boys and 82 percent for girls in 2006. Secondary school enrollment figures for that same year were lower overall, with 62 percent for boys and 66 percent for girls. Education in the UAE has also yielded relatively high literacy rates. For youths between the ages of 15 and 24, literacy rates in 2008 through 2012 stood at 93.6 percent for males and 97 percent for females.

The education system in the UAE provides both public and private schools with about 60 percent of all students attending public institutions. Public school education is free through the university level for all students with UAE citizenship. These public schools are funded by the government and offer a curriculum that was crafted in alignment with the nation’s development goals. The language of instruction in public schools is Arabic with a strong emphasis on English as a second language. Non-UAE nationals have the option of enrolling in government schools as fee-paying students. Private school fees are regulated by each emirate’s respective educational council, and many private schools have garnered international accreditation. Public schools segregate their students by gender while private schools offer co-educational classes.

The UAE has adopted several education initiatives intended to strengthen the existing education system in a number of key areas. The Ministry of Education’s “Education 2020” is a series of five-year plans aimed at introducing advanced education methods. The program includes an enhanced mathematics and science curriculum introduced at the first-grade level at all public schools in 2003. In order to address the UAE government’s belief that an insufficient knowledge of English remains a major employment barrier for UAE citizens, the Abu Dhabi Education Council began developing an elementary school pilot program with Zayid University that focuses on improving students’ English language skills. In 2006, the education minister heeded the prime minister’s requests and introduced a series of initial steps toward strengthening the nation’s quality of education. These steps included the provision of computer labs, permanent classrooms and modern facilities.

An education initiative encouraging the widespread utilization of new technologies in schools has been introduced by H.H. Shiekh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai. The Smart Learning Initiative aims to create a more dynamic learning environment for students through the implementation of smart devices such as tablets in classroom curricula. The program will reach students in public institutions as well as Zayed University, the UAE University and the Higher Colleges of Technology for higher-level education.

– Shenel Ozisik

Sources: Library of Congress, UNICEF, United Arab Emirates Government, U.S. Embassy to The United Arab Emirates
Photo: Flickr

This week, The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) held its third consecutive “One Night to Change Lives” fundraiser in Dubai’s Armani Hotel. The event was a gala fundraiser and all proceeds went towards Dubai Cares, an organization based in the United Arab Emirates, and Oxfam. The festival was supported by United Nations Messenger of Peace Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.

Donations were collected through an action that sold both experiences and collectibles. Among the most notable experiences auctioned off were two tickets to the world premiere of Captain America: The Winter Solider, donated by actress Scarlett Johansson, and tickets to the premiere of the latest James Bond film. Among the auctioned items were James Bond memorabilia and paintings by Abolfazl Lierh and Afsaneh Taebi.

The stars who attended the event included actresses from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Goldie, Bollywood stars. The Earl and Countes of Carnavon attended the event to support DIFF’s efforts. When asked why she had flown to Dubai, the countess replied, “for all of us back home, it’s hard to understand, as we sit in comfortable homes with central heating, that many millions of people have been displaced in Syria, and another two million have nowhere to live. It’s absolutely horrendous.”

The gala raised over $1 million in donations that will be used to address the current crisis in Syria. Hundreds of children and families have sought refugee in Lebanon and Jordan and do not have access to enough supplies for survival. The proceeds from the gala will go towards basic supplies and sanitation facilities for the refugees.

The previous year, the event also raised over $1 million to fund schools in Pakistan. Further donations are being accepted on the Oxfam United Kingdom website.

– Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: All Africa
Photo: Time Out Dubai

Celebrities know how to party, and this December a jet-load of stars attended an extravagant gala in Dubia. The event, “One Night to Change” Lives was held at Dubai’s Armani Hotel and is the third annual gala thrown by the Dubai International Film Festival. Most attractive about this event, besides the numerous film stars in attendance, is the fact that all proceeds from the auction go to the philanthropic organization Dubai Cares, and world development firm Oxfam.

Mark Ruffalo, most recently known for his role in “The Avengers and Now You See Me,” hosted the auction and encouraged high value bids from the star-studded audience. The fundraiser generated over $1 million that will benefit people struggling with poverty and disease during the present situation in Syria. Scarlett Johansson has previously travelled with Oxfam to visit refugees in devastated countries, and donated exclusive world-premiere tickets to the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The money raised at One Night to Change Lives for Dubai Cares and Oxfam will go to providing desperately needed supplies for refugees and their families in Syria. Winter is one of the harshest seasons in that part of the world and Oxfam is supplying people with winter coats, food, blankets and access to hygiene and sanitation.

Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai is the founder of Dubai Cares, which focuses primarily on giving children in developing countries the ability to go to school and become educated. The organization does this by solving problems that prevent children from going to school and provides access to clean water, renovates school buildings, and implements teacher training programs.

Oxfam is a network of organizations in over 90 countries that work together to reduce global poverty by providing international aid. The organization uses a variety of techniques to provide help and assistance. Many critics of the celebrity lifestyle and wealth turn away from using their fame for aid, but Oxfam knows how beneficial these types of people can be. Educating women in their own communities and striving for gender equality and an end to oppression is one way Oxfam works to enhance the lives of others.

Petitioning governments and spreading awareness for the need of local laws to end corruption and promote fair trade of natural resources as well as providing disaster relief in the aftermath of global crisis are other ways that Oxfam operates. The Dubai Film Festival is only part of what Oxfam is involved in regarding the fight against global poverty, and that $1 million is only part of what they can and will continue to contribute.

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Dubai Film Festival, Politics of Poverty, Oxfam
Photo: Brits United

Sustainable_Dubai _Abu_Dhabi
United Arab Emirates largest city-state of Dubai follows a new mantra. The drive to become a sustainable city has become their chief ambition. In October, Dubai held a three-day convention with over 167 countries consuls to win a bid to host the World Expo. The exhibition showcases developments in sustainability, the international financial system, and advocates improvements in the “quality of life for the world’s population.”

Dubai considered hosting vital to its development. Previous hosts of the expo experienced striking economic growth. 2010 host Shanghai developed into the profitable and “cultural” hub of China, previously an industrial outpost.

Oil discovery in the 1960’s brought tremendous wealth. Unfortunately, unlike other cities in the U.A.E., Dubai had “limited” oil “reserves”. By the 1980’s, drastic economic reforms were instituted in Dubai. The Crown Prince at the time Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum proclaimed Dubai a “free-trade oasis”  in an effort to attract foreign corporate business interests.

Economic sustainability without oil became substantial. Dubai transformed into a colossal “global financial center”, flaunting feats of architecture, such as “record-setting skyscrapers.” Dubai’s repeal of pseudo-feudal land system in 2002 was fundamental. The new land-system allowed foreign investors to own land, not just lease its use.

Real estate in Dubai became desired. Many intrigued foreign investors were escaping political instability, legal difficulties, and fiscal insecurity. Dubai’s real estate appealed to “magnates” and “kleptocrats.” Dubai was publicized as a first-rate investment.

Immigrants were captivated by “tax-free salaries,” while affluent “expatriates” and “international businessman” saw the metropolis as a tariff-free ‘capitalist paradise’. Over “96 percent” of the cities working population is “foreign born.” Jobs became abundant in the expanding economy. Dubai began looking to foreign nations for their “luxuries, laborers, architects, accents, even its aspirations.”

The 2008 global economic crisis altered Dubai. Land prices diminished by 50 percent.  Countless “abandoned construction projects” littered the cities scenery. Dubai’s excessive spending on infrastructure left the country with a debt that was over “100 percent” of their GDP. Undeterred by their financial woes, Dubai has shown signs financially rebounding.

Oil was no longer its key economic foundation, becoming responsible for only five percent of its annual GDP. Dubai enacted legislative measures to make Dubai “sustainable, livable and comfortable.”

The Arab Spring’s “after-shocks” enticed international business to “relocate to the city.”, persuaded by it’s political stability. Dubai’s location near the “emerging economies of Africa, India and East Asia” became vital to investors.

Their sustainability approaches attracted “sustainability professionals” who see the emerging green initiatives as profitable. Many migrant workers who came for employment are finding Dubai as the preferred option than returning to their “home country.”

Socially responsible measures promote more environmentally safe and more economically viable development projects. New construction ventures boast new features such as “reduced electricity and water consumption.” Dubai began promoting comprehensive “recycling programs” and developing “solar energy plants.”

Dubai focused on using more “local materials and services” rather than importing and being more fiscally responsible with expansion projects. Many of the ‘pet’ projects that were derailed by the economic crisis are expected to return in the future, but under stricter procedures to mix environmental sustainability and economic responsibility.

Time will tell whether Dubai can actually become a sustainable city. Many of their ventures are still only in the planning stages, and increasingly poor financial choices are still affecting their economic recovery. The first step in recovery is realizing the problem that resulted in the situation, and Dubai’s shift in rhetoric shows a city that wants to move past their irresponsible choices.

Joseph Abay

Sources: Gulf News 1, 2, BBC News 1, 2, The National 1, 2, 3, The Independent, The Guardian, Gawker, Next City, Zayed University, TIME, Expo 2020 Dubai, ZME Science, The Lawyer, KTN
Photo: Florida International University

Volunteer in the UAE

Are you ready to volunteer in the UAE?

The Borgen Project offers volunteer opportunities throughout the UAE. These positions allow flexibility and are telecommuting, so they can be done from home. These volunteer openings are a great way to be part of a global community and connect to an international network of volunteers who are want to make change for the world’s poor.
Do you like to write about international affairs? Perhaps a writer or journalist position is right for you. Want to make changes at the policy level? Become an advocate! Whether you live in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the United Arab Emirates, anyone can apply for the openings. Internship opportunities also exists. Click the links below to see available openings.


What is The Borgen Project?

The Borgen Project is an innovative organization that is working to engage the public in efforts to reduce global poverty. We train even the smallest voice to make a difference and to take pride in being part of the political process. Voters don’t call Congress anymore, even though our political system is built on our representatives acting on the will of the people. Make a difference in your lifetime!

Volunteer UAE

Top 3 Reasons to Volunteer in the United Arab Emirates

  1. Shape the Culture: Living in the UAE, you’ve seen what wealth can buy and build, now let’s see what wealth can accomplish for the greater good. Like everywhere else, creating a culture that cares starts with a handful of committed people who can engage those around them. What makes the UAE unique is its small size and incredibly influential resources, so it’s much easier to connect with the local and expat community.
  2. Have Fun: Through The Borgen Project you can connect with an international community of accomplished, do-gooders and build a network of global support.
  3. Improve the World: There are few things more rewarding than helping others. Raise awareness, educate, interact, meet with Congressmen, learn from others: all ways to increase the interconnectedness of the world. Research also shows that doing something good makes you happier and healthier.

Photo: Digital Media in UAE

In the realm of global issues, a number of staple issues tend to dominate the docket. On a regular basis, a typical news hour will consist of principally the economy followed by a steady rotation of hot button political issues focused predominantly on the government. Underneath the surface of popular media, however, lay far more sinister realities we as a global community have yet to fully confront.

To many, the idea of human trafficking seems to be a relic of the past. Likening human trafficking to the west-African slave trade to the American colonies, many feel that the practice has ceased with modernity. In reality, the practice has been taken to new levels.

Whether an individual of trafficking is intended for labor or sexual exploitation purposes, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that in 2012, 20.9 million people were victims of slave labor and human trafficking. To be sure, the types of people being trafficked are as varied as their intended purpose.

The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that of the global human trafficking trade, women constitute 59 percent of the market. The rest of the trafficking trade consists of 17 percent girls, 10 percent boys, and 14 percent men.

An important distinction the UNODC found was that “Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58 per cent of all trafficking cases detected globally, while trafficking for forced labor accounts for 36 per cent.” Moreover, the study found “trafficking for sexual exploitation is more common in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas. Trafficking for forced labor is more frequently detected in Africa and the Middle East, as well as in South and East Asia and the Pacific.”

With such a staggering number of trafficked individuals, it comes as no surprise that the practice is not limited to one region or culture. In fact, the UNODC reported, “victims of 136 different nationalities were detected in 118 countries worldwide between 2007 and 2010.” The successful function of a market like this hinges upon exploitation of the poor in developing or undeveloped countries all over the world.

As the UNODC reported, the Middle East is a hotbed of trafficking for the purposes of forced labor. It is no secret that the flowering development of Dubai rests largely on the backs of imported forced labor; many use imported labor as their own personal slaves.

Just this month, prosecutors in California charged a Saudi Arabian Princess, Meshael Alayban, with one count of human trafficking after a Kenyan national flagged down a public buss and decried her situation.

The Kenyan national claims she was promised a salary of $1,600 a month. Upon signing her contract, however, her passport was confiscated and she was instead paid $220 a month for full time labor. Unable to return to Kenya, the woman was effectively trapped. While this story has attracted national attention, it is only the story of one person in 20.9 million.

With so little attention given to the issue, it is difficult to prescribe a cure. Many governments are aware of their domestic human trafficking market. A good place to start would be to pressure our own representatives to turn the heat up with threat of sanctions if the practice continues to be ignored.

– Thomas van der List 

Sources: UNODC Al Jazeera
Photo: The Sleuth Journal

The Biggest New Campaign in Dubai

Dubai has an unusual international reputation. Known for its wealth, the city has made a name for itself as the playground of the wealthy. Yet through his foundation, Dubai Cares, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the U.A.E, and Dubai’s leader has shown the world a different use for Dubai’s explosive wealth: philanthropy.

Dubai Cares was created in September 2007. Despite its relative youth, the organization has lofty goals. Recently, it launched its “End Poverty. Educate Now” awareness campaign in Dubai hopes that it will lead to a better understanding of the vital role education plays in poverty eradication, especially in creating more gender-egalitarian societies for women and girls to work and live in. The campaign also aims to raise money to fund primary school education for children in developing countries.

Education improves not only an individual’s opportunities but their family’s and even their community’s quality of life. UNESCO has released stunning statistics regarding the far-reaching impact education can make. For example, and an educated person’s wages increase by around 10% and a child with a literate mother has a 50% greater chance of living past age 5.

The U.A.E as a whole has embraced the campaign, with huge outlets like Dubai Mall adding 5 AED or more to their prices to increase donations. The city is also hosting the “Education Makes a Difference” stand to generate funds, and running Ramadan promotions for fundraisers and with mobile companies offering the ability to donate via text.

The foundation has seen extraordinary success in past efforts. It is active in over 31 developing countries, assisting in the construction and improvement of over 1500 classrooms, building more than 1000 wells and 3,000 latrines, training over 23,000 teachers, and providing books and nutritious food to schoolchildren.

To get involved in Dubai Cares’ work, click here:

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Sources: Albawaba Business, Dubai Cares
Photo: Flickr


May 1, 2013 was the kick-off of the two-day Africa Global Business Forum in Dubai.  Africa, a continent on the move, has been showing promising signs of economic growth and development.  The Africa Global Business Forum is just one more step in the right direction for a continent on the move.

The Africa Global Business Forum, as announced by the UAE Prime Minister, is set to become an annual event.  The forum brings together leaders from Africa and the UAE to promote business investment, development, and collaboration between the nations of Africa and Dubai.  More than 3,500 delegates are in attendance.  The Prime Minister of Uganda gave the keynote address and stressed the importance of the forum as a signal of the interest in African business and investment opportunities.  He also discussed the importance of the private and public sectors working together as has been done in Dubai.

Dubai serves as a center of 150 different shipping lines and could be a very key logistics hub for Africa to export goods.  The young population and growing middle class in Africa are indicators of the potential for increased growth within Africa. Consumer spending is set to hit US $1.4 trillion by 2020. The forum will seek to strengthen alliances between Africa and outside investors with the goal of reducing poverty in Africa and increasing economic growth and self-sufficiency.

Other topics of note at the forum are looking at boosting Africa’s trade through the role of free trade areas and private equity.  Already major telecom companies are looking to invest in Africa and the prospects for future growth and development are exciting.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: CPI Financial