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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a small nation that consists of a federation of seven emirates along the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula. As of 2017, it is ranked as the eighth richest country in the world, mainly due to its status as a global supplier of fossil fuels. While the country is considered food secure its heavy dependence on food imports coupled with unsustainable agricultural practices and overfishing, pose unique challenges. Keep reading to learn the top 10 facts about hunger in the United Arab Emirates.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in the United Arab Emirates

  1. In 2018, the United Arab Emirates ranked 31st in the Economist’s Global Food Security Index — in between Hungary and Saudi Arabia — with a score of 72.5 out of 100. The data showed that there has been a slight, but consistent, upward trend in food security over the past seven years in the country.  
  2. About 17 percent of children under the age of 5 in the UAE are malnourished, often resulting in stunted growth. “This figure, if compared to the Western countries, is quite high and is also significant compared to other countries in the world,” said Dr. Mohammed Miqdady, Senior Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterology at Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre, Abu Dhabi.
  3. The economy of the UAE, and particularly the emirate of Dubai, relies heavily on the tourism industry. Many hotels and restaurants feel pressured to produce vast amounts of food for incoming tourists that often does not get eaten. Because of this, food waste is a problem in the UAE, to the extent that more than $3.54 billion worth of food is wasted in the country every year. 
  4. While the UAE is considered to be food secure, food sustainability remains an issue. Out of 67 countries ranked in the Food Sustainability Index, the United Arab Emirates ranked last in terms of overall food sustainability. The country also came in last place as it relates to food loss and waste, and eighth-to-last in terms of sustainable agriculture.
  5. Part of the problem of food sustainability stems from the lack of reliable domestic food production. Less than 5 percent of land in the United Arab Emirates is arable, and the average yearly rainfall is at only 3.85 inches per year. Because of this, nearly 90 percent of the country’s food is imported.
  6. The UAE is predicted to be one of the most vulnerable nations in the world to climate change. Experts predict that agriculture in the UAE may be affected by extreme heat, harmful insects, flooding in some areas of the country and water shortages in others. In addition, the danger of a global food crisis affecting other countries may also affect the UAE, since the country already imports most of its food.
  7. The fishing industry, that has been a consistent source of food security in the country, is on the decline. Research from the Environmental Agency in Abu Dhabi shows that 85 percent of the grouper and rabbitfish populations, two key species in the Arabian Gulf have been depleted. Other species have suffered similar depletion, including the farsh or painted sweetlips, the population of which has been reduced to 7 percent of its original size. This is assumed to be the result of rampant overfishing in the Gulf.
  8. To make matters worse for the fishing industry, many experts have begun to worry about the potential effects of global warming on fish supply in the oceans surround the United Arab Emirates. Higher temperatures and changing oxygen levels could make the ocean surrounding the UAE uninhabitable for many species. In fact, between overfishing and changing ocean climates, 30 percent of all species in the Arabian Gulf are predicted to be extinct by the end of the century. Given the importance of the fishing industry in the UAE, both the economy and the food supply of the country may be drastically affected.
  9. The UAE has turned to technology to find new solutions to an environment inhospitable to food production. One such solution is cloud seeding, a science-based process that involves encouraging water condensation and precipitation by spraying small flares of chemical compounds into the clouds. UAE meteorologists hope that cloud seeding may hold the key to increasing the country’s rainfall and making agriculture more feasible. 
  10. The United Arab Emirates has created a national plan — based on four developmental pillars — to make its way into the top 10 on the food security index by 2021. The plan includes increasing the number of agribusiness companies worldwide that involve UAE companies, improving domestic food production and reducing the amount of food waste in the country by half by 2030. The plan is also concerned with food safety and nutrition in the UAE.

If the UAE can find ways to work around the potential threats of climate change and resources being exhausted, hopefully, the country will be able to create more sustainable food sources for its citizens. 

– Keira Charles

Photo: Unsplash

8 Facts About JordanThe political turmoil in the Middle East captures headlines around the world. Places like Syria, Iraq and Libya are mainstays in the news cycle. However, one little-known Kingdom amid this chaos has proven to be incredibly resilient and shows promise for the future. Though faced with ongoing crises and conflict in the region, 2017 was a year of positive changes in Jordan.

“I do not know of any other country in recent history that has gone through such an onslaught of crises and found itself surrounded by so many conflicts through no fault of its own,” says Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, son and heir of King Abdullah remarked at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2017. “Yet in the face of these daunting challenges, we did not back down from our ideals, or our values. We did not turn our backs on people in need.”

Jordan has been an island of stability in the Middle East even amid a wave of refugees, economic stagnation and the threat of terrorism surrounding it on all sides.

Here are 8 facts about positive changes in Jordan that give hope for the future:

1. Jordan is ranked the second freest economy in the Middle East behind the United Arab Emirates. Despite lacking the magnificent oil wealth and foreign investments of the Emirates, Jordan is ensuring that businesses are in a climate where they can grow and create jobs.

2. Jordan’s Prime Minister has made it official policy to waive all service card requirements for Syrian refugee children attending school in Jordan. This will open the doors for thousands of young Syrians who were forced to leave their country amid the violence. This greater access to education will garner huge returns on investment in the future.

3. Jordan joined a group of other Middle Eastern countries that abrogated an infamous law that allowed a rapist to escape punishment if they married their victim. This is a victory for women’s rights in the country.

4. Though overwhelmed by refugees from conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the Azraq refugee camp has recently undertaken a project to operate the camp on 100 percent renewable energy. In 2017, they finally accomplished this, becoming the only refugee camp in the world to run on solely solar-powered plants.

5. Nour Al Hassan, a native Jordanian, runs the translation company Tarjama, where over 90 percent of employees are women. Over 60 Jordanian women have been hired by the company thus far. In a region that is notorious for women’s unemployment rates, this is a positive change for the future.

6. Although one of the poorest countries in terms of water resources, Jordan is becoming a testing ground for new water-saving technologies. The Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance project looks to supply water to the southern portions of the country while simultaneously filling up the ever-shrinking Dead Sea.

7. The Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) was ranked one of the top 500 research universities by Times Higher Education. This is the first time a Jordanian higher education institution has been named to this list.

8. Queen Raina of Jordan was awarded the Global Trailblazer Award in 2017, presented by Vital Voices Global Leadership, which recognizes the leadership of women around the world. Queen Raina is a stalwart of women’s rights, education and poverty alleviation.

These 8 facts are just a snapshot of the positive changes in Jordan. In a region where good news is difficult to come by, the advancements made by Jordan are praiseworthy and are moving the country in a positive direction in the face of unimaginable difficulties.

Daniel Cavins

Photo: Google

Education in the UAEEducation 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 UAE
The 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

Ten Facts About United Arab Emirates Refugees
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation consisting of seven states that has grown into the most important economic center in the Middle East. The UAE is heavily dependent on oil and was dependent on the fishing and pearl industries prior to 1950. The UAE is very diverse and has become a trading and tourism hub for the region and heavily controls its media content — which includes foreign publications — before distribution.

Here are ten facts about United Arab Emirates refugees:

  1. The UAE agreed in September 2016 to take in 15,000 Syrian refugees over a five-year period.
  2. The UAE is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention and legally is not obligated to allow refugees to stay in the federation.
  3. The UAE allowed 123,000 Syrians to relocate to the federation since the start of the conflict in 2011, but these have been mostly families and professionals on work visas.
  4. The UAE is the largest donor to humanitarian and development aid in the world on a per capita basis. The UAE has donated $750 million since 2012.
  5. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) does not count refugees in the Gulf States due to these states not signing the Refugee Convention and therefore any refugee relocations are not handled by UNHCR.
  6. Keeping track of refugees in the Gulf States is difficult without data and they are referred to as Arab brothers and sisters in distress.
  7. United Arab Emirates refugees are given a permanent residence and freedom of movement to maintain their dignity. These refugees are also given access to work, medical care and education at no cost.
  8. In March 2017, Amnesty International noted that the UAE in addition to the other Gulf States had offered zero resettlement places to refugees seeking asylum in that federation.
  9. The UAE funds a number of humanitarian projects, such as Al Mreijeb Fhoud Refugee Camp in Jordan. This camp includes a field hospital with surgery, cardiology and pediatrics units that have treated about 500,000 refugees.
  10. UAE refugees fleeing conflict often do not want to be recognized or referred to as refugees in the Gulf States and tend to prefer to go to Europe to seek safety.

There continues to be an open conflict with UAE refugees and how the Gulf States will continue to handle these efforts without the aid of the U.N. However, the UAE maintains that it is offering the best aid to the millions of refugees that seek asylum in the federation.

Rochelle R. Dean

Brain Drain
Brain drain is a rampant epidemic detrimentally impacting developing nations across the earth. As a result, businesses and political figures are making fantastic efforts to reverse brain drains on both a national and global level.

What is Brain Drain and Why is it Happening?

According to Merriam-Webster, brain drain is defined as, “a situation in which many educated or professional people leave a particular place or profession and move to another one that gives them better pay or living conditions.”

The term brain drain was first coined around the 1960s when Great Britain experienced a high percentage of British scientists and intellectuals leaving the country to find better careers in the U.S.

Since then, many other countries such as Greece, Lithuania and a number of African nations have experienced brain drain at an alarming rate.

The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reports that brain drain stems from a wide range of economic, social and political conditions. Most of these conditions are observed in developing countries where the careers of citizens are stifled from issues such as poverty, political instability and lack of technology.

These conditions make developed countries more attractive to those with a degree or a specialized skill. Countries such as the U.S., Canada and the U.K. have been gaining a significant amount of doctors and nurses from abroad.

Migration Abroad

In 2006, the U.S. received roughly 213,331 doctors and 99,456 nurses from abroad. Research from the WHO estimated that brain drain resulted in a global shortage of 4.3 million healthcare workers. Countries experiencing brain drain lose educated working class employees by anywhere from thousands to hundreds of thousands of workers.

In just 2011 alone, Lithuania reported 54,000 migrating to find work in the U.K. The continent of Africa loses one in nine university graduates to Western nations. In addition, Greece estimated that 160,000 to 180,000 college graduates have left the country for better opportunities.

Though developed countries can benefit from receiving these educated migrants, the sheer amount of incoming, educated people can overwhelmingly disadvantage various sectors within developing countries.

Brain Gain

However, there is hope to reverse brain drain as seen from the efforts of nations such as Lithuania, the UAE and many African countries.

Lithuania

Business leaders and governmental officials in Lithuania are combating brain drain through a series of university mergers. University mergers are when multiple universities unify in order to foster stronger university brands. The plan is that these university mergers will attract current citizens and international students to study in Lithuania.

Marius Skuodis, a former citizen of Lithuania, has returned to his country because of the new opportunities provided within the university mergers. He plans on pursuing his PhD at Vilnius University, despite having to accept a lower salary.

Skuodis is quoted saying that, “Lithuania offered me career opportunities I could not expect in the UK.”

UAE

The UAE has also made gallant strides in turning brain drain into a brain gain. The UAE is a nation that suffered from brain drain as well as high levels of violence for numerous years.

Recently, businesses have made tremendous efforts in the UAE to improve the quality of life for workers and residents. These efforts have turned the UAE into a thriving nation with one of the highest standards of living for citizens in the world.

Africa

In Africa, reports indicate that brain drain has slowed substantially within the continent. A study in 2014 from South Africa’s Adcorp, stated that 359,000 highly skilled South African workers had returned to working in their countries of origin.

Economists have noted that this accomplishment was possible due to the policies that governments and businesses have put in place in order to encourage workers to come back home.

Finding a solution to reducing brain drain is no easy feat, as it requires both businesses and governments to coincide with one another to tackle the issue at hand. Businesses and corporate leaders need to implement solutions to create more job opportunities with quality benefits for those with desired skills.

Governments need to strive for policy changes that encourage workers to return to their countries. However, if governments and businesses can work together to make substantial legislation changes, many nations may follow suit and reverse their brain drain into a brain gain.

Shannon Warren

Photo: Flickr

one_night_to_change_lives
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

united_arab_emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is composed of the seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. Located in the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula, it occupies over 83,000 square kilometers and boasts a population of 9 million.

In comparison to the rest of the world, the country is relatively young. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1971. The discovery of oil reserves in the 1960s catapulted the once impoverished region into a center of international business and wealth. Today, the UAE is the eighth richest country in the world.

The UAE’s political structure is both traditional and modern in its approach. Each emirate is led by an emir or ruler who oversees the internal political affairs of the region. Representatives from each emirate are chosen to form the Federal National Council. The President and vice president also serve as emirs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, respectively.

Prior to its entry into the global oil industry, the UAE’s revenues mainly stemmed from its failing pearl and fishing industry. Today, over 90 % of Emirati are literate, due to extensive investments in education, healthcare and infrastructure.

The UAE currently rates 23 out of 189 countries for ease of doing business. Its positive relationships with foreign investors have allowed the country to successfully compete in the global marketplace and exposed its citizens to the level of globalization necessary to conduct international business.

Success has also visited the neighboring countries of Iran, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia as organizations continue to promote the importance and healthcare in the region.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: CIA World Factbook, BBC, Doing Business
Photo: Win Wallpapers

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.

uae
Photo: Digital Media in UAE