HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai visited the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD 2015) accompanied by HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, President of Arab Thought Forum and Chairman West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Institute, HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and a number of local and international dignitaries.

In addition to the honorable visit of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to DIHAD, the second day has witnessed a huge participation of key international humanitarians and important figures from several humanitarian associations, whom highlighted different topics related to the conference’s theme “Opportunity, Mobility, Sustainability: The Humanitarian Aid & Development Perspectives.”

Commenting on the importance of international cooperation to decrease the impact of disasters, HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of International Cooperation and Development in the UAE said during a speech at DIHAD Conference: “The Syrian crisis has been declared the biggest humanitarian crisis in United Nations history. Opportunity does exist to end the Syrian crisis in due time; however the global community will need to mobilise our resources and our capabilities in order to achieve this end. Further afield, the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic, which caught the international community by surprise, has spread to three countries in West Africa and poses a serious threat, not just to the region or the continent, but to the world at large.”

HE Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi continued on saying: “Increased mobilisation of resources around early warning for disaster reduction and preparedness strategies will allow us to respond more effectively to future outbreaks. Mobility as a theme serves as a fitting mantra for the humanitarian and development communities. Whether actors are mobilizing funding resources, or mobilizing disaster reduction and preparedness strategies; this is an area in which we can and should always be improving. Let us collectively mobilize for increased impact of our aid.”

From his side, H.E. Mr. Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crises Management commented on his participation in DIHAD Conference and Exhibition this year saying: “I was keen to attend DIHAD this year to further enhance Europe’s cooperation with the Arab donors and humanitarian actors, by building a strong relationship of trust going forward. It is an opportunity to meet some of the key players in this field, and to exchange ideas with them on how to meet the global challenges, which affect us all.”

H.E. Mr. Christos Stylianides added: “Shared values of solidarity and compassion are the essence of the humanity that unites the global aid community. We must invest in diversified partnerships that bring together all actors in the humanitarian landscape; donors from East and West, affected communities, diasporas, charities, foundations, and the private sector.”

The conference agenda of the second day included various topics such as Moving Relief Items efficiently when and where it is required, Causes and Consequences of the Forced Displacement of Persons, Sustainable Development after 2015, Sustainability of Water and Energy. The conference has also touched upon the topic of Opportunities in Environmental Protection & Climate Change and many more. The session on Environmental Protection & Climate Change was headed by HH Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Ali Al Nuaimi, Environmental Advisor to the Ajman Government who has expressed his happiness in being part of this session that is of great importance due to the drastic climate change that the world is witnessing.

HH Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Ali Al Nuaimi said: “I am delighted to be among you today in this event, which is considered an honorable one to the Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the world in all. During my session at DIHAD, we had discussed a number of issues and presented several research papers that highlighted the importance of reducing pollution and finding alternatives that would lessen the risk arising from environmental pollution and climate change. We have come up with a number of solutions, which included the promotion of initiatives to support the public sector and stimulate better environmental practices and the use of clean technologies, including renewable energy at the lowest cost and most importantly changing the behavior of individuals and replacing the bad habits with better ones. ”

UNHCR signs for 10,000 flat-pack shelters

The unique collaboration between IKEA Foundation and UNHCR has resulted in a new, safer, innovative and more durable shelter for refugee families around the world. UNHCR has made a frame agreement of 10,000 units with the social enterprise Better Shelter.

With a safe and functional temporary shelter delivered in flat packs, Better Shelter together with UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation wants to bring dignity and safety to the millions of refugees fleeing violence, conflict, persecution and natural disasters. This unique partnership has introduced an innovative approach to designing for refugees and putting their needs at the heart of the development process. In a groundbreaking example of democratic design (form, function, quality, sustainability and an affordable price), the prototype has been tested and improved by 40 refugee families in Iraq and Ethiopia. Their experiences and needs have been at the heart of the development process. Following the field testing the shelter design has been iterated and is now being scaled to production.

The Better Shelter is a temporary shelter designed with special attention to transport volume, weight, price, safety, health and comfort. It can be assembled on site without additional tools and equipment with a solar panel and lamp to provide light during the dark hours. The expected lifespan of the shelter is three years. Production of shelters is about to begin and in the summer of 2015 UNHCR will start providing the shelter to thousands of families in refugee camps.

“Better Shelter will supply 10,000 units to UNHCR in 2015 for use by UNHCR operations globally and that is just the beginning. We will continue to develop the Better Shelter and also other solutions to benefit the many displaced people. Innovation is our strongest driving force”, says Johan Karlsson, Head of Business Development, at Better Shelter.

“The RHU is an exciting new development in humanitarian shelter and represents a much needed addition to the palette of sheltering options mobilised to assist those in need. Its deployment will ensure dramatic improvement to the lives of many people affected by crises”, says Shaun Scales, Chief of Shelter and Settlement, at UNHCR.

“Putting refugee families and their needs at the heart of this project is a great example of how democratic design can be used for humanitarian value.  We are incredibly proud that the Better Shelter is now available, so refugee families and children can have a safer place to call home”, says Jonathan Spampinato, Head of Strategic Planning and Communications IKEA Foundation.

Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation receives financial support of AED 7.8 million for the educational program of the Dubai Islamic Humanitarian Foundation

Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation received financial support estimated AED 7.8 Million from Dubai Islamic Humanitarian Foundation to support higher education university students. The collaboration between both organisations reflects their vision in putting education in their top priorities. The result of this collaboration will support 2650 students in higher education of low-income and economic cases by providing them with 1,250 computers and 1400 iPad devices.

HE Mohammed Haji Al Khouri, Director-General of the Khalifa bin Zayed Foundation thanked HE Abdul Razak Abdullah, Chief Executive of Dubai Islamic Humanitarian Foundation for their continuous support. He stressed that the contribution of the Dubai Islamic Humanitarian Foundation to support educational initiative will have a significant impact in helping university students to overcome some of the economic barriers that often prevent them from continuing their education in an atmosphere of psychological stability. He pointed out that the number of schools and university students who benefited from the support of the institution over the past years reached more than 160 thousand students across the country.

From his side, HE Abdul Razak Abdullah, CEO of Dubai Islamic Humanitarian Foundation said: “Our support comes in the framework of our cooperation, coordination, and community partnership vision between charitable and humanitarian associations, particularly the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation due to its dynamic role in implementing various projects that benefit students.”

DIHAD is organized by INDEX Conferences and Exhibitions – member of INDEX Holding and supported by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Est, the United Nations, the UAE Red Crescent Authority, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, International Humanitarian City, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – Dubai and Dubai Cares. DIHAD 2015 is also sponsored by Al Khair Foundation & IQRA TV.