Established in early 2009 under the directives of HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and under the guidance of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative of the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, the UAE Foreign Aid Coordination Office (FACO) has already collected around half of all data on foreign aid donations made by UAE-based donors since 1971, amounting to approximately 7,500 records. The first government agency of its kind in the world, FACO was set up by the UAE government to support and coordinate UAE-based donor organizations that provide assistance for humanitarian activities and emergency relief worldwide.
“FACO aims to reinforce the UAE’s position as a major global donor through its participation in global conferences and forums on humanitarian issues and to highlight its efforts to fight poverty and support sustainable development around the world,” said Hazza Mohammed Falah Al Qahtani, Director General of FACO. “We are also working to improve future foreign aid planning and the implementation of international programs, which requires FACO to carefully map the foreign aid sector and identify donor organizations in the UAE. This is a process that involves tracing the last four decades, dating back to the founding of the United Arab Emirates, and to catalogue all foreign aid donations of UAE-based NGOs and government agencies. As a result, FACO will be in a better position to assess the foreign aid sector, allowing us to identify ways we can help donor organizations here maximize the impact of their contributions worldwide.”
The data collected will also be used to register UAE donations with international organisations like the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and to detect gaps, duplication of efforts and inefficiencies that can be addressed.
Al Qahtani added that one of the primary objectives of the assessment is to enrich the capacity building process of donor organizations. He said: “The assessment will help identify each organization’s training requirements, permitting us to respond with programs that will build the knowledge and skills of the UAE’s aid personnel. Also, this will allow us to share best practices with UAE foreign aid organizations in a number of areas including information management that will help ensure accurate data collection.” To support this process FACO is currently seeking partnerships with local and international academic and training institutions.
FACO’s goals also include providing early warning to UAE-based donors and to support their field deployments during emergency aid situations. “The complexity and frequency of man-made and natural disasters have increased dramatically over the years, requiring us to adopt collaborative strategies that will enhance speed of response, efficiency of action and maximization of impact,” said Al Qahtani. “People’s lives are at stake and we need to ensure that we do everything possible to respond effectively and quickly in times of emergency.”
Humanitarian organizations in the UAE have welcomed the establishment of FACO.
HE Reem Al Hashimy, Chairperson of Dubai Cares, said, “The role of FACO is critical in coordinating between the many local organizations to support all UAE humanitarian activities abroad. We are happy to work with FACO to capitalize on the impact of UAE humanitarian contributions across the globe and ensure that the many philanthropic initiatives that the UAE embarks on are reflected.”
Mohammed Hajji Al Khoori, Executive Director of The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, said, “The establishment of FACO as the only organization of its kind by our founder and patron HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is an example of the visionary thinking that is making the UAE a world leading innovator in so many fields. A federal agency set up to support the humanitarian community here will help us raise the bar in the implementation of foreign aid programs and the delivery of aid to those in need wherever they may be.”