Opinion: The UAE’s philanthropy boom

By Maram Ahmed // 09 April 2019


The Dubai International Financial Centre, a financial free zone based in Dubai, enacted the “foundations law,” intended to provide an enhanced framework for an individual or family with philanthropic objectives. Photo by: Guilhem Vellut / CC BY

The United Arab Emirates is an emerging philanthropic power. For over a decade now, the number of philanthropic organizations has been booming in the UAE, as the country has enjoyed economic prosperity. The UAE is not only one of the most affluent countries in the Middle East but in Asia too.

Wealth has trickled down

Personal wealth in the UAE is estimated to reach $590 billion by 2022 in the form of investable assets, one of the highest in the world according to Boston Consulting Group. Furthermore, the number of millionaires in the UAE is set to rise to 61,292 by 2023 — a 14 percent increase from 53,798 millionaires last year.

With the increase in prosperity, greater attention is now being placed on giving. Philanthropy is a growing trend among the country’s rich and the UAE is creating its own league of philanthropists.

The surge in philanthropy is driven by multiple factors beyond the growth in wealth, most notably government policies and legacy building for the region’s leading businessmen.
The country is making its mark in philanthropy and development professionals need to take note of how and why this shift is occurring.

Government policies

Dubbed the “humanitarian nation,” relative to its national income, the UAE is the world’s largest donor of official development aid according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In addition to boosting aid spending, the government is taking great strides to enhance a culture of corporate and community giving.

2017 was declared as “the year of giving,” with a federal national strategy announced and roadmap created to promote corporate responsibility and volunteerism.

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