This year, the United Arab Emirates will connect the religious period of Ramadan with the theme of World Environment Day, “reduce your footprint”. Traditionally a time of introspection, fasting, and prayer, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is an important time of  year, and the impact of an environmental movement during this time could be very powerful.

The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi has partnered with charitable organizations to donate 250 meals of untouched leftover food to homeless. The agency is committed to this goal for the next 5 years. The program will be introduced at the beginning of Ramadan and launched at the end of the month around August 7.

Organic waste accounts for nearly 395 of all total household waste in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This organic waste actually increases the percentage of waste in landfills and leads to the increase in carbon emissions as well. According to UN experts, this type of waste in landfills emits large amounts of greenhouse gases. To combat this environmental issue, The Environmental Agency will use the month of Ramadan as a moral incentive to protect the environment by reducing food waste. Using a quote from the Quran, the agency encourages people to make only enough food for the guests at the table and to measure portions amongst other environmentally friendly actions.

By reducing food waste, more meals can be delivered to the poor.  Quattro Group, a food service company, will provide restaurants with 250 uneaten meals from cafes and restaurants. These meals will be given to the Saving Grace Project, which will then hand them over to low-income communities. The food-handling team has established a timetable to collect and distribute meals efficiently, as well as ensuring that health and safety are top priorities.

In addition to the food donation program, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi has launched its own awareness campaign to encourage people throughout the country to consider waste when making food decisions. Fozeya Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, director of the agency’s environmental outreach division, has stated that waste reduction is vital for a nation with limited food and water resources. To Mahmoud and other, Ramadan is the ideal time to begin to instill a new culture of reducing food waste.

The campaign incorporates religious values with 10 tips on reducing your carbon footprint. Tips range from planning meals, avoiding grocery shopping when hungry, composting organic waste, to donating food to those in need.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: Muslim Village, The National
Photo: Washington Post

Forty Arab and international artists donated a total of 47 pieces of artwork to raise funds for Noor Dubai Foundation’s Art4Sight art auction on April 24-25. Held at the Zabeel Ladies Club, the auction helped raise AED 1.2 million (approximately 327,000 USD) for the Noor Duabai Foundation and programs to provide housing, prevention, education and training programs for the blind in various countries, specifically the United Arab Emirates.

Participating artists included Abdulqader Al Rais, Najat Makki, and Fatima Lootah, and Her Highness Sheikha Latifa Bint Maktoum. A young artist, Aliya Hussein Lootah, donated a piece that was made in honor of the UAE’s 40th National Day and was signed by His Highness Shaikh Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

CEO of the Noor Dubai Foundation, Dr. Manal Taryam, gave thanks to the artists and reiterated the importance of the programs Art4Sight funds. “Providing the gift of sight aids both economic and social development in countries of need,” she said. In the last year, the foundation has helped raise AED 5.6 million (approx USD $1.5 million) to fund humanitarian and social aid programs to needy citizens and families living in the United Arab Emirates.

On the second day of the event, a panel discussion was held and addressed the specific topic of supporting art and philanthropy services in the UAE.  Participants in the discussion included eminent personalities such as director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group and chairwoman of the Young Arab Leaders Muna Al Gurg.

With the success of the auction, the Noor Dubai Foundation is planning the third mobile eye camp for 2013 that will be held in Tamale, Ghana.

-Kira Maixner
Source: Khaleej Times
Photo: Oasis Unedited

The growth story in Africa is remarkable and continuing to catch the attention of the global economy. Emerging markets are investing in Africa at rates that are quickly outpacing developed markets.  A sign that business prospects are good and the emerging markets that were just recently at the beginning of growth are making big enough strides to begin investing in other markets.  Africa is working hard to reduce poverty and a growing middle class is catching the attention of markets and companies ready to expand their potential for growth.

Despite a drop in the number of new foreign direct investment projects globally, Africa was able to see growth to 5.6 percent in 2012 in their share of direct investment.  Ernst and Young’s 2013 Africa Attractiveness survey notes an increase in investments from China and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has also recently announced key partnerships with governments on the continent to continue the relationship between African development and UAE investment.  While the United States, Britain, and France have typically been the biggest investors in Africa, only the UK showed increased project numbers in 2012. Investment projects from China grew 28 percent over the same time period.

From 2007 to 2012, investment from emerging markets into Africa grew at a rate of over 20.7 percent while investment from developed markets grew at only 8.4 percent.  The numbers tell the story of a shift in investment and interest in the continent of Africa.  The story of African growth and development is real and backed by Ernst and Young’s Managing Partner for Africa. The potential for growth in the next 10 to 20 years is bigger and what was once considered a desolate, poverty-stricken continent is fast emerging as a story of hope, poverty reduction, and growth in purchasing power.

There is still much work to be done in Africa and those concerned with development must still keep an eye on those living on less than $2 a day. But in terms of initial success, Africa is one continent to cheer for.

– Amanda Kloeppel
Source: The Economic Times


The Minister of Development and International Co-operation (UAE), Lubna Al Qasimi, met with the Chief Minister of Island of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst yesterday. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss international developmental and humanitarian actions and to boost cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. According to Shaikha Lubna, the UAE is trying to “align their points of view, in order to enhance the development and humanitarian efforts globally in the underprivileged countries.”

The contributions made by the UAE has allowed it to advance its rank globally in its achievement of developmental and humanitarian aid; thus, the UAE’s acquirement of the 16th rank pushes donors to raise their efforts in supporting developing countries. Senator Ian Gorst examined the “potential cooperation opportunities with UAE” and highlighted the projects and the mechanisms as to how these international development programs will be handled. The Senator went on to commend the UAE’s expertise in international development and the humanitarian standpoint. He applauded the successful efforts of the UAE in delivering aid and assistance to “affected people of man-made crises, such as in wars, food deficiencies, drought, poverty, in accordance with the directions and estimations of the international institutions.”

– Leen Abdallah
Source: Khaleej Times
Photo: UAE Interact

A Shift in Foreign Aid PowerThe U.S. might lose its leading role as a foreign aid donor, allowing the United Arab Emirates to take over. Two weeks after a city in Missouri experienced a terrible tornado that left 161 people dead, the U.A.E. stepped in to see what the city needed.

According to The Seattle Times, “six schools, including the city’s sole high school, had been destroyed in the May 2011 disaster.” Although insurance would cover the new building constructions, damaged and destroyed books still have to be replaced. A staffer from the U.A.E. Embassy called the public school district in an effort to help them, and he wanted to “think big.”

For Joplin High School, thinking big meant a computer for each student.  Each student now has a MacBook, courtesy of the U.A.E. The next step was for the U.A.E. to spend $5 million to build a “neonatal intensive-care unit at Mercy Hospital,” which was badly affected by the tornado.

Such a generous act by the U.A.E. is also serving to better present its international image after a 2006 controversy in Dubai; a firm wanted to take over and manage 6 U.S. ports which caused major congressional opposition.

In regards to Joplin High, the U.A.E responded after the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi saw the tornado’s effects on the city on CNN. Had the embassy not stepped in when it had, the school system would not have been able to open by its promised date, and families would have needed to find other arrangements for their children’s education.

The U.A.E.’s involvement marks a shift in foreign aid power as the Arab world competes with the West in an effort to help those less fortunate in providing aid to poor communities and those who are in need in general.

After the longest time of the U.S. being the major financial contributor to tackle global needs, donations from other nations such as China, India, and oil-rich Gulf countries, are now rising up to the global economic plate. The U.A.E has also provided funds to create durable soccer turfs, ones that can withstand all kinds of weather conditions, in low-income areas of New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Generally speaking, the Gulf countries’ direct involvement with the global philanthropic economy not only plays in their favor of creating a better international image, but it also establishes them as strong international actors that genuinely care about the world’s state of being.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: The Seattle Times
Photo: Anchorage Daily News