On the role of the private sector in Dubai’s humanitarian efforts
How can the private sector help contribute to the government’s humanitarian aid efforts?
PRINCESS HAYA: The most common way that businesses can help is through corporate social responsibility programmes by donating funds directly for humanitarian aid. However, businesses can also help raise awareness and support fundraising with the general public through their customer base. This is quite common here in Dubai and the UAE, where many businesses have a strong sense of giving back to the communities they serve.
Private businesses are increasingly taking part directly in aid efforts, especially in emergencies. Major logistics firms like UPS and DHL, for example, have provided aircrafts for emergency relief shipments. Some companies will even provide staff on a temporary basis to help governments, the UN and NGOs do their work more efficiently in a wide range of areas like communications, warehousing and transport. Other companies take part by designing new products like high-nutrient foods and supplements intended to help with malnutrition and drugs to deal with pandemics like avian influenza and Ebola, or widespread tropical diseases like malaria and dengue fever.
Often private sector companies and individuals create spin-off foundations, and these have had an enormous impact - more than many government donors. The best known examples of this are the Gates, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. The Gates Foundation gives more money annually for development activities than most governments today. Here in Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed created a massive foundation in 2015 – the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives – which is investing over Dh10bn ($2.7bn) to help 130m people in 116 countries fight illness and poverty, spread knowledge and culture, empower communities and drive innovation.
What troubles me is that all these efforts worldwide are not really tracked properly, so we do not know the full extent of private sector support for humanitarian aid. The OECD counts only official government aid by its members, which is really only one part of the overall picture. The truth is that we do not really know how much is given to support emergency aid or development assistance worldwide. That needs to change.
What advantages exist for foreign NGOs in basing their regional operations in the IHC?
PRINCESS HAYA: First, the IHC is a community of aid providers and as such it allows them to coordinate and combine their efforts and their shipments, which is so important. There is too much duplication and waste in aid efforts worldwide. The IHC works hard to facilitate communication and cooperation among its UN, NGO and corporate members.
Second, Dubai is one of the great logistics capitals of the world and has the capacity to move goods quickly using several modes of transport.
Lastly, in addition to being located only 18 km from the new Al Maktoum International Airport and 21 km from Jebel Ali, the world's largest man-made port, the IHC gives its members the ability to move shipments from sea to air in as little as 10 minutes. The Customs corridor between the two further eases the process, making the IHC a strategic location for humanitarian aid agencies. Emergency shipments can reach two-thirds of the world's population within eight hours.