ABU DHABI,The nation’s journey of giving, initiated by the founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and closely followed up by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is a quintessential UAE gift ingrained in the UAE people, said His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed made the remarks while attending the “Pioneers Forum,” which was organised by Sandooq Al Watan to honour its individual and institutional supporters, since its launch through the end of the “Year of Giving.”
Launched by a group of Emirati business, the social initiative Sandooq Al Watan embodies the societal cohesion alongside the directives of the UAE’s leadership that call for achieving sustainable development, a decent life and a bright future for all the people of the nation.
The forum was attended by H.H. Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Tolerance, and several sheikhs, senior officials and businessmen.
“As we honour the “pioneers” of Sandooq Al Watan today, we honour them as role models for donating and giving, as well as for their sense of social responsibility, their love and loyalty for the nation, and their positive citizenship,” His Highness Sheikh Mohamed said while noting that loving the nation is not only done through words and slogans but also through giving and sacrifice, as advocated by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
H.H. Sheikh Mohamed affirmed that honouring the UAE’s pioneers during the Year of Zayed has symbolic significance, as Sheikh Zayed himself is a symbol of giving, sacrifice, dedication and love for the nation, and a source of inspiration for those who seek the advancement of the UAE.
“As long as these values persist in our community, we are on the right path,” he added.
Sheikh Mohamed further added that supporting the fund reflects a sense responsibility for the community and nation, and the purpose of the Sandooq Al Watan initiative is for every individual to be responsible for their community.
“The values of giving and solidarity are not alien to our community, but are rather well-established. The UAE’s history is awash with shining examples of the nation’s sons and daughters, whom the UAE will not forget thanks to their noble actions and heroic roles,” he said.
Sandooq Al Watan gains its ground from being a key tool in turning CSR into an institutional culture with an integrated scope of work and definitive objectives that embody the national priorities and enhance the prospects of sustainable development by reinforcing social participation and strengthening national unity to bring forth a bright future for the UAE and the Emirati people, H.H. Sheikh Mohamed added.
“The initiative’s scope of work echoes the solid awareness of its initiators about the nature of the transformational development drive the homeland is undertaking to get braced for the post-oil era. Therefore, the Fund lays special focus on innovation, development of human resources and propelling scientific research, which are all primary platforms the government is working on to ensure economic diversification and achieve the sustainable development goals,” Sheikh Mohamed added.
His Highness recognised the key contributors to Sandooq Al Watan, primarily Lt. General Musabbah Rashid Al Fattan, and Mohamed Ali Al Abbar, Emaar Board Chairman.
The forum included a session that brought together Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Board Chairman of the Sandooq Al Watan, Mohamed Al Abbar and Issa Al Suwaidi, Sandooq Al Watan members, where they spoke of the initiative’s diverse contributions to a series of developmental enterprises across the country, foremost of which is the fund’s support for research centres, innovators and entrepreneurs.
Muzna Al Amri, a 13-year-old Emirati poet, recited a poem upon H.H. Mohamed’s arrival in the forum, where she inspired the audience with sentiments awash with fervent love for the UAE and appreciation of the leadership’s in-depth vision that has ensured national unity and encouragement of innovators and inventors.
Following the poem, Fatma Al Kaabi, an Emirati inventor, spoke of the school robot she has innovated as well a Braille printer and other inventions that earned her around 24 international awards. She also got a training license in areas of innovation that she used in training around 1500 Emirati talents.
Dr. Habiba Al Safar, the Director of Khalifa Univeristy Biotechnology Center, then spoke of the Sandooq Al Watan’s significant contributions to buttressing research efforts across the country through Khalifa Innovation Center at Khalifa University of Science and Technology. She cited the Genome initiative and its related research as key examples of the projects to which the Fund efficiently contributed in this regard.
She elaborated on the significant benefits produced by the Genome project in identifying genetic diseases and developing effective medications to such critical ailments.
An interactive session was held with Mohamed Al Abbar who spoke about the impact and role of giving in the community. He noted that UAE philanthropists have generous contributions through this fund as well as through other humanitarian channels that serve both the nation and local community.
”What is being paid back for the nation is nothing as compared to what the country’s leadership delivered in education, health, infrastructure and the international reputation that we all proud of,” he said.
”Emaar’s contribution to the Fund is part of its commitment and responsibility towards the nation, its leadership and people,” he stated. He also lauded the Fund’s role in educating and empowering young Emiratis to innovate and deliver their dreams. The Fund lays solid foundations for a new generation of entrepreneurs through core values of national work, youth empowerment, financial assistance, education and utilisiation of resources,” he added.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed toured an exhibition where he got insight into the main programmes and initiatives it launched, including the Emirati Programmer which aims to empower young Emiratis with advanced technology to usher into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The first phase will train 200 students under 14 years old from Ajman and Al Ain on computer programming for 12 weeks.
Second phase will involve 1000 students from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah.
The Fund has so far received contributions worth AED667 million out of a target of AED1 billion it seeks to raise by 2020. Cash pledges accounted for AED485 million against AED23 million in properties.
There are 70 donors with Emaar Properties emerging as the largest contributor with AED50 million followed by Ahmed Juma Al Za’abi, Deputy Minister for Presidential Affairs who donated AED 12 million.
The Fund is currently working to launch the Innovation Oasis under the umbrella of Khalifa Innovation Centre which will span 1200 square metres with a capacity of 120 entrepreneurs.
In 2017, the Fund launched ‘Researcher.ae’, a portal aimed at connecting researchers with investors and establishing solid communication channels between local and international research organisations to keep the former up to date with the latest breakthroughs.
The portal attracted over 600 researchers. Some 20 Emiratis benefited from this initiative, with the Fund planning to increase the number of beneficiaries to 50 in 2018.
Around 14 academic institutions and five private companies announced support to the portal, as preparations are currently underway to launch its 2nd phase in April 2018.
Preparations are also ongoing on to establish the ‘Sandooq Al Watan Oasis’, under the aegis of Khalifa Innovation Centre, to field social investment opportunities that are set to yield positive effects on society as a whole.
The Oasis will cover a total area of approximately 12,000 square feet, setting out to develop innovation centres all around the country.
The Khalifa Innovation Centre is a joint strategic initiative bringing together the Khalifa Fund and Khalifa University, as well as Tawazun and Mubadala Investment Company.
The Centre seeks to create an ideal environment that encourages innovation, enables young people to develop their talents and catalyse innovative projects capable of supporting and promoting the knowledge economy in the UAE.
The Fund also announced the launch of the Emirati Innovator programme to support Emiratis’ innovative ideas and projects in Sharjah and other Northern Emirates. Initial results showed positive outlook as 50 students from eight national universities landed jobs with 20 of the leading private companies in the UAE.
Surveys showed that 96.3 percent of the students participating in the programme are satisfied with the training programmes, while 97.3 percent of them said they are interested to work in the private sector.
Last year saw Sandooq Al Watan establishing collaboration with Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development to to support the Pitch@Palace competition which targets innovative tech start-ups and SMEs, helping them expand and become leading enterprises locally and internationally, and addresses their financial, marketing, management or development needs.
The Fund will soon announce several initiatives. One of the initiatives aspires to develop the skills of Emirati future leaders to assume top positions in international organisations by 2040, with targets including having an Emirati serving as the UN Secretary-General.
Source: Emirates News Agency