United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become one of the largest providers of official development assistance (ODA) worldwide, following the launch of its foreign assistance policy (2016-26). In 2018, the United Arab Emirates ranked among the largest providers in terms of gross national income (GNI) on a per capita basis. The United Arab Emirates provided USD 2.2 billion in ODA in 2019, 41% less ODA than in the previous year due to a fall in concessional loans. The country is currently focused on improving the effectiveness of its activities, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation co-ordinating the activities of all UAE providers (e.g. Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, other ministries, civil society).

In 2016, the United Arab Emirates launched a 10-year foreign assistance policy, identifying priority partner countries and global themes (transport and urban infrastructure, government effectiveness, empowerment and protection of women). Policy is “demand-driven” and based on collaboration with other development partners (i.e. providers, multilateral organisations, the private sector, notably UAE-based companies), focused on the UAE’ comparative advantages, a commitment to addressing neglected issues and under-supported communities, sustainability, and making aid transparent and focused on results. The overarching objective of the UAE’s development co-operation is to promote global peace and prosperity, with humanitarian aid also playing a central role in the country’s global sustainable development efforts. Development co-operation is mainly delivered bilaterally, with plans to increase multilateral allocations over time. The UAE is interested in the “beyond aid” agenda and is mobilising funds from other actors, notably the private sector and philanthropy.

The United Arab Emirates provided less ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. The fall of 41% in real terms from 2018 was due to a reduction in the number of concessional loans provided. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 2.2 billion (preliminary data),1 representing 0.55% of the United Arab Emirates’ GNI in 2019. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 2.3 billion in 2019, while gross ODA was USD 2.5 billion. Within the United Arab Emirates’ ODA on a grant-equivalent basis in 2019, 88.8% was provided in the form of grants and 11.2% in the form of non-grants.2 In 2018, the United Arab Emirates provided USD 3.9 billion. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, the United Arab Emirates provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 98% of total ODA, of which 18% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). The United Arab Emirates allocated 2% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

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In 2018, the United Arab Emirates increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 813 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 246.9% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 75 million was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. These funds were softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, the United Arab Emirates’ total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the United Nations (UN) and regional development banks. These contributions together accounted for more than 88% of the United Arab Emirates’ total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 85% of funds to multilaterals. Out of a total volume of USD 691 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of the United Arab Emirates’ support (core and earmarked contributions) were the World Food Programme (USD 285 million), the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 136 million), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (USD 66 million).

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See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, the United Arab Emirates reduced its bilateral spending compared to the previous year. It provided USD 4.2 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented a decrease of 7.2% in real terms from 2017.

In 2019, providers of development co-operation started voluntarily reporting to the OECD data on how ODA focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2018 activities. In 2018, the United Arab Emirates focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the goals of the 2030 Agenda for no poverty, sustainable cities and communities, and decent work and economic growth.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 28% of the United Arab Emirates’ gross bilateral ODA, compared to a non-DAC country average of 40% and the 48% average for all countries reporting to the OECD.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, the United Arab Emirates channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector.

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In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 902 million of gross bilateral ODA. Twenty-two per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the provider (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 5% to 22%. Learn more about civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, the United Arab Emirates’ bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia and Europe. USD 3.3 billion was allocated to Asia and USD 422 million to Europe, accounting respectively for 80% and 10% of gross bilateral ODA. Two per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 92% of gross bilateral ODA went to the United Arab Emirates’ top 10 recipients. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 2%.

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In 2018, least developed countries received 67.1% of the United Arab Emirates’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 2.8 billion). This is higher than the DAC country average of 23.8%. The United Arab Emirates allocated 1.6% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2018, equal to USD 65 million.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 3.3 billion of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (78.4% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 68.2% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of the United Arab Emirates’ bilateral ODA was allocated to humanitarian aid. Total bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 624 million (40% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked investments in emergency response accounted for 36% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 560 million), while there was also a strong focus on general budget support (USD 330 million) and other multi-sector activities (USD 213 million). Contributions to multilateral organisations also focused primarily on humanitarian aid.

In 2018, the United Arab Emirates committed USD 130.8 million (10.7% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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In 2018, the United Arab Emirates committed 18% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 8% in 2017),3 compared with the non-DAC country average of 17%.

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In 2018, the United Arab Emirates committed 2% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 20 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 12% in 2017 (the non-DAC country average was 2%. Two per cent (USD 20 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 12% in 2017.

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Following the merger of the Ministry of International Cooperation and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February 2016, the new Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) took on overall responsibility for setting policy, geographical and sectoral priorities for the UAE’s development co-operation. In addition to its strategic role, 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. The MOFAIC co-ordinates the activities of all public UAE donors, including the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and ensures activities are in sync with those of private UAE donors, notably private philanthropy and civil society.

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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). Reporting to the OECD since 1970 and reporting activity-level data since 2010 on 2009 activities.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

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