UAE: Focusing on partnerships, collaborations crucial for humanitarian work, say Dihad participants

Officials at the conference emphasise UAE’s commitment to supporting humanitarian missions around the world

by

Lamya Tawfik

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Participants at the opening of Dihad Conference and Exhibition in Dubai. — Supplied photo
Participants at the opening of Dihad Conference and Exhibition in Dubai. — Supplied photo

Published: Mon 13 Mar 2023, 10:15 PM

Participants at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (Dihad) Conference and Exhibition have said that fostering partnerships is one of the most important elements of success for the humanitarian field.

“Dihad stands for 19 years of achievements for humanity, for people, for everybody. There are more than 828 organisations which are part of Dihad – they could be an organisation, a foundation, a college, continuous education, a special project for sustainability, you name it. We are happy for this achievement, and we are looking forward to next year,” said Dr Abdul Salam Al Madani, Roving Ambassador for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean for the GCC, Chairman of Dihad Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation and Chairman of Index Holding.


In the opening ceremony, he emphasised the UAE’s commitment to supporting humanitarian missions around the world. “Through international collaboration, we seek to support humanity in maintaining sustainable economies and livelihoods. This year’s edition is set to highlight the importance of energy and aid,” he said.

Stressing the importance of partnerships, Giuseppe Saba, CEO of the International Humanitarian City (IHC), said that while they do bring to Dihad 20 years of experience in the humanitarian field, they are looking into the future and how to best serve those in need in the next decade. “How can we better use partnerships, how we can involve the private sector more and more? Humanitarian action is not the property of organisations like the UN only. The private sector is getting more and more involved because there are costs and needs that need to be covered by partnerships,” he explained, adding, “we need to do it together.”


Giuseppe said the IHC is an expression for partnership. “In this conference, we want to reinforce partnership with the private sector. Those who have the technology, innovation, manufacturers of humanitarian aid — ones that are sustainable and do not create additional environmental problems. Partnerships is the focus,” he said, adding that they are also implementing partnerships with academic institutions. “We need to know how to work together... all of us, this is the future.”

Being strategic in philanthropy and collaborating is key according to Danah Dajani, director of Partnerships and Programmes at the Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation, which manages and administers the Abdulaziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund. “It’s all about strategic philanthropy and how you can be innovative in resources. This fund was created to look at philanthropy through a strategic lens. We support 20 organisations on the ground, and we reached 62,000 people, hence achieving our target threefold since the original target in 2018 when we were established was to reach 20,000 refugees,” she said.

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They were able to do that by being able to leverage resources with other like-minded donors on the ground to support refugee education. “It’s not just about a person or a foundation, it’s about the cause and how we can come together by being transparent, cost-effective and accountable to maximize the impact in outreach,” she said, adding that it is important to also focus on what happens after emergencies. “There are many innovative ways to support humanitarian challenges not through a charitable short-term way but by planning for the future.”

The 19th edition of Dihad, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and inaugurated by Hasher bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Media Incorporated, will continue till March 15 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

It is held under the theme ‘Energy and Aid: Capitalising on Available Resources’ and brings together key decision-makers from leading NGOs, UN Agencies, Charity Organisations and governmental bodies, together with aid, education, and construction providers from the private sector to address the needs of people and countries affected by crises, disasters, and natural calamities.

In a speech at the opening ceremony, Dr Maitha bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State, said: “Giving is part of human nature, as man is born by his instinct as a social being, who lives and interacts with others.” She praised the humanitarian efforts and example set by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the ‘Mother of the Nation’, saying: “She has been blessed with a big heart and a soul that yearns for giving.”

Dr Hamad Al Sheikh Ahmed Al Shaibani, Director-General, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, said that this year’s conference aims to shed light on the issue of energy and aid for international relief, as well as the situation of supply chains and logistics in the humanitarian field. “We will discuss the challenges of these issues at the conference, in addition to exploring how to benefit from the available resources at all levels to provide the necessary solutions,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Gerhard Putman-Cramer, CEO, Dihad Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation, said: “We are set to focus on and outline the essential facts and figures around energy and aid: Why energy is an essential pre-requisite to both our “saving lives and livelihoods” mission and our pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, we are ready to review key challenges to our agreed norms and principles, as well as to our field-based operations.”

Highlighting the responsibilities facing the international humanitarian organisations, Dr Hamdan Al Mazrouie, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Red Crescent, said: “Our humanitarian and moral commitment to the victims of disasters puts us in the face of great challenges and responsibilities to end the suffering of humanity. We value and support this edition of Dihad, for we can discuss fundamental issues through this platform related to energy and aid, and how we can benefit from available resources.”

Michael Koehler, Director-General, European Commission’s Department for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, explained in his speech how Dihad 2023 is taking place at a time when many people across the world face dire living conditions. “Almost 103 million persons today are living in displacement. This year will set another record high of humanitarian needs, with 339 million people in need of assistance and protection. The UN estimates that $51.5 billion will be needed to meet the needs of the 230 million people most in need.”

Another key speech during the opening was delivered by Ramesh Rajasingham, who spoke on behalf of Martin Griffiths, UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. He praised the efforts of the UAE for its steadfast commitment to serving people in need and contributing more than $1 billion in humanitarian assistance in the past three years alone.

After discussing the recent devastating earthquakes in Türkey and Syria, Rajasingham stated: “Never before has the global humanitarian system been stretched so thin. Events like Dihad can help amplify the ideas of some of the world’s leading aid practitioners. Together, we are seeking new ways to drive innovation in our global humanitarian responses.”


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