The UAE has committed more than Dh5.8 billion in foreign aid to 137 countries and regions around the world and last year, which mirrors the noble, humanitarian values instilled by the founding fathers of this country, said His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Shaikh Mohammad was speaking as he was briefed on the UAE Foreign Aid 2012 report released on Tuesday.
The world’s 16th largest foreign aid donor last year , the UAE spent Dh5.83 billion in grants and loans to 137 countries and regions around the world, according to the UAE Foreign Aid 2012 report released yesterday by the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation.
The UAE also committed Dh5.59 billion towards future development projects in 13 countries. Of these commitments, Dh4.81 billion has been allocated to support infrastructure development projects in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, while the rest will fund, among others, agriculture, water and sanitation, and road transport infrastructure projects. Nearly 78 per cent of these funds is estimated as official development assistance, the report said. 
Some 87 per cent of the UAE’s aid went to development projects (Dh5.07 billion), 6.9 per cent to humanitarian assistance (Dh404.4 million), and 6.1 per cent to charity projects (Dh356.2 million).
Asia was the top recipient of UAE assistance last year, receiving more than half or Dh3.24 billion of the total disbursements. Of this the largest portion or Dh2.24 billion was allocated to countries in western Asia, mainly Jordan, Palestine, Yemen and Azerbaijan.
Western Asia has been the primary destination of UAE assistance for three consecutive years since 2009. Africa received more than 20 per cent of aid last year or Dh1.26 billion.
An official report issued in April by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Commission (DAC) has shown an improvement in the UAE’s international donor standing, placing it in 16th position last year in the proportion of the foreign assistance it provides in relation to its Gross National Income (GNI), advancing from the 20th global position in 2011, and 26th in 2010.
Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, said since its establishment in 1971, the UAE has maintained a balanced foreign policy in the Arab region and beyond. “For more than 40 years we have always been ready to mediate for reconciliation, reach out with relief, and support development projects in various countries and regions. The UAE’s generosity has allowed it to be ranked by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as among the most generous donors of foreign aid in 2012,” Shaikh Mansour said.
Shaikh Mansour added the foreign policy represents the continued application of the values and principles established by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, and it is based on the UAE’s financial, moral and practical commitment to respond to humanitarian crises and natural disasters across the world.
“The President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has continued on the path of giving, said humanitarian diplomacy is one of the main pillars of our foreign policy, and our country will continue to support international efforts to respond to disasters and answer the call for relief,” Shaikh Mansour said.
He added the figures represented in the UAE Foreign Aid 2012 report demonstrate how these principles have been translated into action in regions affected by natural disasters and conflicts as well as in countries which lack infrastructure.
Shaikh Mansour said this report reflects the activities and achievements of the UAE development, humanitarian and charitable organisations that work hard to fight poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and illness in more than 100 countries around the world, providing education, health care, and emergency relief to assist vulnerable communities to overcome the many challenges they face.
Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, said the UAE continues to work in harmony with the international community to provide foreign assistance and support global human development initiatives.
“Last year, UAE’s foreign aid touched the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world, including by improving access to education and health care services, supporting research, innovation and infrastructure development, and providing relief during emergencies. The Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Bridge in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, for example, helped to connect 15 towns and 45 villages on either side of the Swat River, while UAE support for demining projects in Afghanistan has benefited 45,000 people by clearing the way for the construction and restoration of farms, roads, schools, clinics, irrigation channels and other infrastructure facilities,” Shaikha Lubna said.
Shaikha Lubna added the UAE also joined global efforts to support health initiatives such as the elimination of guinea worm disease in Africa; the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations to increase access to immunisation in developing countries; and the Roll Back Malaria programme, an international partnership dedicated to combating the spread of the disease.