United Arab Emirates

Introduction

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have become one of the largest donors worldwide. In 2013, the UAE was the largest donor in terms of gross national income (GNI) on a per capita basis and 2017 marks the fifth consecutive year in which the UAE has surpassed the 0.7% ODA/GNI (official development assistance/gross national income) target. The country is focused on improving the effectiveness of its activities. In 2016, the UAE launched a ten-year foreign assistance policy, identifying priority partner countries and global themes (transport and urban infrastructure, government effectiveness, empowerment and protection of women). The UAE’s policy is “demand-driven” and based on collaboration with other development partners (i.e. donors, multilateral organisations, the private sector, notably UAE-based companies), focused on the UAE’s comparative advantages, a commitment to addressing neglected issues and under-supported communities, sustainability, and making aid transparent and focused on results. The UAE’s foreign assistance promotes global peace and prosperity – and humanitarian aid also forms an important part of the country’s aid.

Official development assistance

In 2018, the United Arab Emirates provided USD 3.9 billion in total ODA (preliminary data) using the new “grant-equivalent” methodology (see the methodological notes for further details) adopted by DAC members on their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. This represented 0.95% of GNI. Under the “cash-flow basis” methodology used in the past, net ODA in 2018 was USD 4.2 billion. Total ODA for 2018 represented an increase of 1.5% in real terms from 2017, due to an increase in multilateral contributions.

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In 2017, 97% of gross ODA was provided bilaterally, of which 3% was channelled through multilateral organisations (multi-bi/non-core contributions). The United Arab Emirates allocated 3% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

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In 2017, 60.9% of bilateral ODA was programmed with partner countries, making the UAE’s share of country programmable aid higher than the average for development providers beyond the DAC of 27.4% (see the methodological notes for further details on country programmable aid). Project-type interventions accounted for 34.6% of this aid.

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In 2017, the United Arab Emirates channelled 92.6% of gross bilateral ODA through the public sector (up from 88.8% in 2016). In 2017, the United Arab Emirates did not channel its ODA through private sector institutions. See the methodological notes for further details on channels of delivery.

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In 2017, USD 204.8 million of gross bilateral ODA was channelled to and through civil society organisations (CSOs). Between 2016 and 2017, ODA channelled to and through CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral aid (from 7.6% to 4.8%).

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In 2017, bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia and Europe. USD 2 billion was allocated to Asia, of which USD 1.9 billion to the Middle East, USD 1.2 billion to Europe and USD 872 million to Africa. USD 238 million was allocated to sub-Saharan Africa. Bilateral allocations to sub-Saharan Africa increased compared to 2016.

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In 2017, 90% of gross bilateral ODA went to the United Arab Emirates’ top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, where the United Arab Emirates has programmes with nine countries, in line with its focus on its immediate neighbourhood. Support to fragile contexts reached USD 1.9 billion in 2017 (43.8% of gross bilateral ODA).

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In 2017, 25.3% of the United Arab Emirates’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 1.1 billion) was allocated to the least developed countries (LDCs). This is down from 28.3% in 2016, but higher than the average of providers beyond the DAC of 12.3% in 2017. Upper middle-income countries received the highest share of bilateral ODA in 2017 (39.4%), while lower middle-income countries received 31.3% of its ODA, noting that 3.8% was unallocated by income group. Within bilateral ODA that is unallocated by country, the United Arab Emirates estimates that 0.15% is directed to the LDCs.

At 0.28% of GNI in 2017, total ODA to the LDCs was higher than the UN target of 0.15-0.20% of GNI. This includes imputed multilateral flows, i.e. making allowance for contributions through multilateral organisations, calculated using the geographical distribution of multilateral disbursements.

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In 2017, 12.4% of bilateral ODA commitments was allocated to social infrastructure and services, for a total of USD 94.6 million, with a strong focus on support to education (USD 52 million) and health (USD 42.1 million). The United Arab Emirates also allocated USD 284.7 million to economic infrastructure and services (mainly transport and storage and energy generation and supply). Humanitarian aid amounted to USD 0.8 million. The United Arab Emirates also committed USD 492.8 million (69.7% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2017.

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USD 55.5 million of gross bilateral allocable ODA supported gender equality. In 2017, 8% of the United Arab Emirates’ bilateral sector-allocable aid had gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal or significant objective (down from 75% in 2016).

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USD 86 million of bilateral ODA commitments supported the environment. In 2017, 12% of its gross bilateral allocable aid supported the environment and 12% (USD 86 million) focused on climate change. Allocations supporting the environment increased from 9% in 2016, while those focused on climate change increased from 8% in 2016. The proportion of bilateral allocable ODA focusing specifically on adaptation increased from 8% in 2016 to 12% in 2017, and the proportion focusing specifically on mitigation from 8% to 12%.

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Institutional set-up

The Ministry of International Cooperation and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were merged in February 2016. The new Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) has overall responsibility for setting policy, geographical and sectoral priorities for the United Arab Emirates’ development co-operation. The ministry also identifies modalities and mechanisms for foreign aid distribution and implementation, and documents aid flows. In December 2016, the MOFAIC launched the United Arab Emirates’ new development co-operation strategy for 2017-21.

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Performance against the commitments for effective development co-operation

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Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Participant in the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

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