Why The Year of Giving?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
The UAE’s President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has declared 2017 as the Year of Giving. On this occasion, and in light of the New Year, I wish to share a few heartfelt words on what ‘giving’ is, and why the UAE is dedicating a year to it.
‘Giving’ is a value we cherish and saw personified in the UAE’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed. We continue to see this philanthropic legacy embodied by his sons and ingrained in the DNA of our society. Through my humble experience, I believe giving is not limited to monetary donations. Rather, “giving” is defined by the differences we make: the differences in someone’s life, in a society, or in a nation. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy is not measured in the generous donations he made to the less fortunate only, but in the impact he has had on our lives and our country forever. This is our goal for the Year of Giving – to make a difference in the lives of those we care for, and in ourselves.
To achieve this, the first step is asking ourselves exactly how we can make a difference. Every father, mother, son and daughter can ask him or herself how they can contribute to the advancement of their families and communities. All of us have the capability and capacity to make a real difference in the lives of those around us. There are so many ways to give. We can give back to our environment – to clean beaches and deserts, to care for trees and to be kind to all inhabitants on our earth. ‘Giving’ is easy and abundant… it is feeding a bird, smiling at your neighbors, or going above and beyond at your job. If you are a person with power and responsibility, ‘giving’ is making your people happy, and being kind to them when you implement laws.
Volunteerism is another way to give: volunteer an hour, a day or a week of your time; volunteer your skills, your knowledge and your energy. Volunteer and make a difference in your society. When people spend their lives accumulating material assets and wealth, they quickly learn that there is no meaning in life unless they share their wealth in the service of others. No one can feel fulfilled until he or she starts ‘giving’ to make a difference.
We also urge business people to take part in the Year of Giving. I know many who have already given generously to the UAE in the social, medical, educational and environmental sectors. We thank them wholeheartedly. To others, we will support you on your quest to making a difference. We will facilitate opportunities for you to give back, whether it is establishing nursing homes, sponsoring facilities for people with disabilities, building medical clinics, establishing charitable institutions, or launching environmental or humanitarian initiatives. We will recognize your efforts and make it as easy as possible for you.
To our government, our service is rooted in the spirit of ‘giving’ in order to make a difference in our country. We have high expectations for extraordinary initiatives from you as always. I encourage you to create volunteer opportunities and embed the virtue of volunteerism in our next generation. I also urge you to create partnerships with the private sector to facilitate laws and procedures for anyone who wants to give back, and to encourage anyone who wishes to make a positive impact on our country.
As we look forward to a new year, we wish for goodness and bliss for all. We hope for another year in a cohesive and prosperous UAE, where everyone cares for everyone, and where everyone finds a way to make a difference. I am optimistic that 2017 will leave a lasting legacy – one where the principles of giving are deeply implanted in the hearts of many more generations to come.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum