Wednesday 01 October 2014
Strategic leaders need an understanding of the tools of national power and the ways they may be used to implement strategies and policies. The use of diplomacy, military capabilities and information at the national level are fairly well understood, but the uses of economic power, particularly here in the UAE, deserve greater understanding. UAE founding president Sheikh Zayed said, “Foreign aid and assistance is one of the basic pillars of our foreign policy. For we believe that there is no true benefit for us from the wealth that we have unless it does not also reach those in need, wherever they may be, and regardless of their nationality or beliefs.” Thus, foreign aid as a tool of UAE statecraft deserves appreciation.
National economic power is the allocation of resources or the apportioning of goods and services to foster national interests. The use of economic power may include economic pressure or sanctions, as well as economic incentives, such as aid and favorable trade relations. Although the economic instrument of national power is only partially controlled by governments, and the private (business) sector wields significant economic influence through its own foreign investments, for many nations economic power is their most influential tool of statecraft.
Foreign aid includes any voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another. Aid may be given as a sign of diplomatic approval, to strengthen allies, to reward friendly governments for supportive behavior, to extend cultural influence, to provide needed infrastructure for humanitarian reasons, or to gain other kinds of access. In the case of the UAE, the major reasons for giving aid are humanitarian and altruistic.
The UAE has given significant aid to a number of developing countries and also has been a major contributor of emergency relief to regions affected by conflict and natural disasters.
The UAE’s Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid notes that in 2010 the country contributed 2.80 billion dirhams to development and humanitarian programs in more than 120 countries. The UAE’s primary aid and relief agency is the Red Crescent; in 2010 the Red Crescent gave a total of 364.1 million dirhams, mainly to development and humanitarian projects. Other influential UAE relief organizations include Dubai Cares and The Zayed Foundation.
The UAE also provides development aid. Since its creation the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has provided almost 13 billion dirhams to 207 projects across 53 countries. In 2013, total UAE development assistance reached 18.7 billion dirhams, representing an increase of 375% over 2012. Though much of the UAE’s development assistance is provided to national governments, it also contributes significantly through international agencies. According to the UAE Ministry of Finance and Industry, over 100 billion dirhams has been made available through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank over the past forty years.
In recognition of the importance of these efforts, the UAE established a new Ministry of International Cooperation and Development (MICAD) in 2013. MICAD works with donor organizations to boost the UAE’s position as a key player in development and international cooperation among international donors.