Dubai: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, officially inaugurated today the 17th edition of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition ‘DIHAD’ at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, accompanied by a number of officials and prominent figures in the humanitarian field. Held under the theme ‘Aid and Coronavirus, a Focus on Africa’, the 3-day premier humanitarian gathering in Dubai is highlighting the current calamities facing the continent of Africa, and exploring ways to address and resolve them.

The opening ceremony began with a speech by His Excellency Mr. Saeed Al Eter, Chairman of the UAE Government Media Office; Director-General of The Executive Office of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum; and Deputy Secretary- General of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.

Following, His Excellency Mr. Rashid Mubarak Al Mansouri, Adviser of Local Aid, speaking on behalf of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the Emirates Red Crescent Authority; said: “(DIHAD) is an excellent opportunity to draw the features of the future vision of our joint relief and humanitarian efforts, and to put a new imprint on the path of humanitarian road followed by the United Arab Emirates under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, -may God protect him, and the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, -May God protect him, and the initiatives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The UAE has paved the road for this through extended efforts and initiatives that put an end to many important humanitarian issues, and made the required difference in the level of rapid intervention and care while facing the challenges that haunt humanity and impede its march towards achieving the desired stability and development.”

The speech of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan also included: “The importance of this edition of DIHAD from the fact that it discusses a fundamental issue related to strengthening the capacity of the African arena to confront the Corona pandemic, and to help it recover and overcome its humanitarian and development crises in various fields. The UAE realized early on its duty towards the different countries of the world that face great challenges due to the outbreak of the pandemic, and strengthened its humanitarian response to it, and since the emergence of the crisis, it has provided medical aid and preventive supplies to 134 countries around the world, from which 1.8 million medical personnel on the front lines have benefited. These aid 1,789 tons of medical supplies, and dozens of African countries had the lion's share of this aid.”

Afterwards, His Excellency Hamad Al Sheikh Ahmed Al Shaibani, Director General of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD)- Dubai, delivered his speech and said: “the United Arab Emirates has become a humanitarian hub that attracts individuals from across the world, as we can see today in our meeting during the inauguration of the 17th edition of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition - DIHAD, under the theme "Aid and Coronavirus, a Focus on Africa".

He added, "In the year 2020, the world witnessed a crisis that had repercussions globally, at various economic, social, psychological and humanitarian levels, and there had to be decisions and initiatives that limit the repercussions of the crisis and its direct access to individuals, as the leadership of the UAE were among the forerunners in developing plans and mechanisms that would put people at its top. Dubai taught us peace, generosity, leadership and determination, and according to the wise vision established by the wise leadership to achieve economic and societal stability despite the difficulty of the crisis, as it aimed since the outbreak of the pandemic to instill the value of solidarity to support the various segments of society without discrimination, has brought about a quantum leap in the mechanisms of charitable and humanitarian work.”

He concluded: "Through this conference, Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) in Dubai is pleased to announce the signing of an agreement with ‘Mohammed bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences’, embodying the country's most important strategic priorities in investing in research and medical sciences, as the agreement will open horizons and establish a solid foundation in the field of supporting and exploring scientific research.”

Following His Excellency Hamad Al Sheikh Ahmed Al Shaibani speech, His Excellency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) delivered his speech virtually, during which he stated: “The COVID-19 Pandemic has underscored that our fate as a global community is intertwined, and our collective resilience is only as strong as the weakest among us. Overstretched health systems, coupled with political instability and a lack of security, allow infectious disease to thrive. In Africa, we have seen the impact of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases such as the resurgence of Polio and Measles, and the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but we also know that with strong leadership, strong health systems, a strong health workforce, disease outbreaks can be controlled effectively.”

He added: “The rapid development of vaccines for COVID-19 has also brought the world a much needed source of hope. But vaccines are a tool, and what matters is how we use them. The fastest way to end this pandemic is by suppressing the virus everywhere, at the same time. The more opportunity the virus has to spread anywhere, the more opportunity it has to change in ways that could make vaccines less effective.”

The opening ceremony also included speeches from His Excellency Sergio Piazzi, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, His Excellency Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management,

Following the opening ceremony, Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, accompanied by a high level delegation of senior dignitaries and figures toured the exhibition area which covers an area of 3,538 square meters and visited a number of stands for local and international humanitarian organizations, NGO’s and charitable foundations, as well as the biggest international brands and establishments from all across the globe.

Running parallel to the conference, the exhibition is featuring over 600 participating entities with a number of Non-Governmental Organizations, Humanitarian Governmental Associations, Companies, Suppliers and International Brands showcasing their latest projects and services. Moreover, the exhibition is playing host to 14 ‘Innovation Workshops’ spread over 3-days inside the exhibition area. In addition, the exhibition area features the French pavilion and the United Nations pavilion.

DIHAD is organized annually by INDEX Conferences and Exhibitions – a member of INDEX Holding with the support of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the Dubai Future Council on Humanitarian Aid, the Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment, the UAE Red Crescent Authority, the United Nations, Dubai Cares and International Humanitarian City. The event is sponsored by King Abdullah Humanitarian Foundation (KAHF), Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, Pathfinder International, and Life for Relief & Development.


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