Riyadh: The first day of the Yemen Donor Conference, co-chaired by Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the World Bank Group concluded yesterday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Dr Abdulrahim Al Awadi, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed the UAE’s delegation.
The conference aims to offer an opportunity for the international community to take stock of recent developments in Yemen and see how development partners can best support Yemen’s recovery during a critical period.
Yemen has been wracked by unrest recently and is beset by the long term challenges of economic crisis, including fast-depleting oil and groundwater reserves and food insecurity.
Speaking at the conference, Dr Al Awadi said that the UAE recognizes the urgent economic and humanitarian challenges facing Yemen.
“It is important that Yemen’s friends and partners come together to assist the government in responding to the needs of the Yemeni people”, he said.
Dr Al Awadi highlighted some of the UAE’s efforts to support Yemen’s economy, noting that these have spanned a wide range of projects and sectors over the years: “The UAE’s donor organizations have worked together with the people of Yemen to build educational facilities; to protect the environment; to enhance access to water and improve sanitation; to empower women and to ensure that health facilities are in place where they are most needed. The UAE has built houses and distributed food to people affected by floods and conflict”.
The UAE has long been a significant source of development aid to Yemen. Following a donor conference held in London in November 2006, the UAE pledged some 650 million U.S. dollars to contribute to the rehabilitation of the Yemeni economy and to finance infrastructure and reconstruction projects.
In 2010, Yemen was the third biggest recipient of aid from the UAE. The UAE Red Crescent Authority was the largest single UAE donor to Yemen in 2010, providing the bulk of its assistance (US$27 million) in the form of a government grant towards the construction of Khalifa City in the eastern governorate of Hadhramaut, a city built to provide shelter to people affected by floods.
In 2011, the UAE disbursed US$79.5 million dollars to Yemen. The funds came from a large number of donor organisations, with the most coming from the Government (US$52.6 million) and from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (US$14.5 million).
Throughout 2011, the UAE continued to assist the government of Yemen by delivering humanitarian aid but also by transporting energy across the border to prevent the worsening of a fuel crisis. The UAE supported Yemen to the tune of two million barrels of petroleum products in order to ensure the continuity of electricity supply in the country.
Outlining plans for the rest of 2012 and beyond, Dr Al Awadi made clear that the UAE’s efforts will not end here. Many development projects funded by the UAE are ongoing and due to be completed in the next few months or years.
Dubai Cares, a major UAE donor to Yemen, is in the course of completing educational projects to the value of US$10.4 million in Yemen. Working in tandem with its partner organizations UNICEF, CARE and Save the Children, Dubai Cares has improved access to and the quality of education for 100,000 children, including many young girls.
Other ongoing projects financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development include the US$75 million Hassan Dam project, a US$61 million project for issuing electronic passports to the citizens of Yemen and US$33 million granted for a vast array of social development programs.
The UAE’s Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan Foundation is building a hospital for mothers and children in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. When completed, the health facility will be handed over to the Yemeni Ministry of Health. In addition to ongoing projects, in June 2012 the President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan decided to allocate around US$ 150 million dollars to purchase food for Yemen.
Approximately US$5 million was spent in July, when the Khalifa Bin Zayed Humanitarian Foundation distributed 3,850 food parcels among displaced people in the Aden Governorate in Yemen. These included essential items such as rice, flour, sugar, oil and powder milk for babies.
The UAE is today at the forefront amongst Arab donor countries in aiming to alleviate the severe challenges faced by Yemen. Overall, the UAE’s foreign aid during the last four decades is estimated to have exceeded US$38 billion. The funds have been disbursed to more than 120 countries across the globe. The largest recipients were countries in Arab and Islamic countries.
According to a December 2010 report by Global Humanitarian Assistance, a group that monitors the distribution of charitable aid from governments, the UAE is the first non-Western nation to be included in the global Top 10 humanitarian aid donors per head of population.