Message from the Chairman of DIHAD

On behalf of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian & Charity Est., it gives me the honour to invite you to participate in the 17th edition of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition – to be held in Dubai from 15-17 March 2021.

As an active charity foundation in the UAE, we are proud to support DIHAD in all its activities where we can grow and share experiences with the regional and international humanitarian community.

With a world blighted by suffering and poverty, we wish to further facilitate the work of local and regional humanitarian actors to meet with the ultimate goal of reducing suffering around the world.

H.E. Mr. Ibrahim Bumelha
Cultural and Humanitarian Advisor of – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Vice President – Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Est.
Chairman of the Higher Committee – DIHAD
Chairman of DISAB


Ever since its inception in 2004 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition – DIHAD has proudly embarked on a humanitarian journey – making a real difference on people’s lives and promoting UAE’s standing as a global leader in the field of humanitarian aid and development.

While many countries in Africa continue to face major challenges from violent conflicts, poverty, unemployment and negative effects of climate change, and with the sudden spread of the COVID 19 pandemic, which undoubtedly increased the burden on all humanitarian and charitable organizations and slowed down the efforts of some bodies to deliver humanitarian relief in light of such a crisis, there has never been a more conducive time to focus our attention on the humanitarian response to such crises and explore viable solutions to tackle these issues. Therefore, I am extremely delighted to announce that the 17th edition of DIHAD will be held this year under the theme ‘Aid and Coronavirus, a focus on Africa’ where we will shed light on the problems and crises caused by the outbreak of the COVID 19 in Africa – the continent which is a global hub for the largest aid and development organizations in the world.

There is no doubt that the emerging Corona virus had a great impact on the economy and resources of countries around the world. The effects of this pandemic caused a health crisis and shock in countries with strong health systems but its impact was deeper and greater in countries with limited medical resources and capabilities such as a number of African countries.
The UAE leaders and its people have always been known for their generous humanitarian work, as the country believes that goodness is greater when its wider and more comprehensive. Thus, at DIHAD, we aim to establish an ideal platform to address the most pressing needs of people living in oppression in many African countries, while attracting local and international assistance programs and awareness campaigns by leading aid organizations to achieve prosperity in the ‘humanitarian continent’.

In order to achieve this, DIHAD 2021 will bring together this year the biggest donors, concerned actors, major UAE based charities and foundations like 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 Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, the Emirates Red Crescent Authority, the United Nations, Dubai Cares and International Humanitarian City, in addition to international bodies like Red Crescent and Red Cross Movements, NGOs, IMF, OECD, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other entities to further explore the most urgent needs of people facing huge humanitarian challenges in Africa and to benefit from their experiences and expertise in different fields.

On this occasion, I would like to thank all our strategic partners, key stakeholders, leading UN bodies, speakers, experts, companies, institutions and exhibitors for their continuous support and contribution over the last years and sincerely hope that DIHAD 2021 will play a key role in fulfilling its core objectives in serving the needs and challenges of people in need.

I look forward to seeing you all in DIHAD 2021 and hope you enjoy your stay in our beloved country- UAE and the beautiful city of Dubai!

Dr. Abdul Salam Al Madani
Executive Chairman, DIHAD & DISAB
Goodwill Ambassador – Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM)


Much has been said and written – this before the Coronavirus pandemic – about the role of Aid in Africa; a variety of recipes and perspectives for the sustainable development of this vast continent, home to some 1.3 billion people, in 54 countries. What has actually been learnt from past successes and failures? And what roles do the volume and type of aid play in Africa’s trajectory towards progress? Financial flows in and out of Africa are a central part of the debate. According to the OECD, Africa receives the lion’s share of Official Development Assistance (ODA) – some 50 billion US dollars or a third of all global ODA (the main donors including the USA, EU institutions, the World Bank and the UAE). There are questions about channels, participation, conditions, priorities, oversight and accountability, inter alia. A key question is whether debt payments and so-called « repatriated profits » outweigh incoming aid and remittances. In any case, the debate often remains somewhat theoretical, omitting to address the specificities of individual countries and situations.

Humanitarian aid in the context of conflicts and disasters, to which the continent is much prone, continues to be essential and on the whole effective, even if insufficient. Africa’s conflicts have profound adverse effects on the development of the countries concerned and the region as a whole. They lead to forced migration, long-term refugee situations and internal displacement, the destruction of infrastructure and the deterioration of social, political and economic institutions. In these critical situations, some seemingly endless, aid is mostly basic and aimed at the victims of war. Assistance in support of the eradication of poverty, an equitable distribution of resources, the promotion of rule of law and fundamental human rights, education and employment is very much beyond the immediate horizon.

Then there is climate change, and its repercussions on the African continent. These range from extreme heat events and increasing aridity to changes in rainfall patterns and floods; a higher frequency and a greater impact of a variety of weather-related disasters for which few nations are adequately prepared. Already high rates of undernutrition can be expected to increase and agricultural livelihoods to be adversely affected, thereby further accelerating the significant urbanization trend in the region.

Africa’s population has more than trebled since 1960, with a current annual growth rate of some 2.5%. Looking at the very rapidly expanding size of the continent’s cities, it is no surprise to learn that 41% of Africa’s population is urban. Nigeria is by far the largest country in terms of population, currently estimated to be close to 200 million. Ethiopia follows, with a population of some 110 million, after which come Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya, all with populations well in excess of 50 million. Some predict that the continent’s population will total 2.4 billion in 2050.

Africa is rich in natural resources and, possibly for that reason, the world’s fastest growing region in terms of foreign direct investment. North Africa has vast oil and natural gas deposits; the Sahara and Sub-Saharan Africa hold a wealth of strategic ores and metals, including gold, silver, nickel, copper, uranium, titanium and platinum, as well as diamonds. The income derived from these resources should of course benefit the countries in which these are located.

Then there is land, and lots of it. But there is a rapid conversion of forest to agricultural land, problems of land use and ownership, issues of water resources management, competition between pastoralists and farmers, environmental and wildlife preservation concerns (involving also tourism, in some countries a sizeable source of revenue): all complex inter-related problems requiring enlightened oversight and, often, complementary expertise and resources available through aid.

With regard to health, and while acknowledging that Africa confronts a dramatic public health crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) is hopeful that, over time and with adequate support, the challenges in question can be duly addressed. While right now the Coronavirus is in the limelight, WHO’s most recent regional health reports confirm that HIV/AIDS continues to devastate the region (which has 60% of those suffering from HIV/AIDS globally). More than 90% of the estimated 300-500 million malaria cases worldwide are found in Africa, mainly among children under five years of age. While progress is being made on preventable childhood diseases such as measles, the rate of maternal and newborn mortality remains high. Life-threatening communicable diseases, coupled with the rising rates of non-communicable diseases (such as hypertension and diabetes) constitute an increasingly heavy strain on Africa’s health systems.

According to WHO, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have reported an incidence of Covid-19, totalling (as of August 2020) some 950,000 cases and over 18,000 related deaths. These figures are rapidly changing as the pandemic progresses on the continent and as national testing capacities are progressively reinforced.

In terms of Africa’s future prospects, and the SDGs closely linked thereto, it is clear that those priority goals (e.g. economic growth and employment, SDG 8) which until recently looked achievable have suddenly been dealt a devastating blow. As economic activity and employment are reduced by the multi-faceted repercussions of Covid-19, countless families that were just making ends meet in small and medium-sized enterprises are being tipped into poverty; existing vulnerabilities are rapidly being exacerbated and food insecurity levels are on an alarming rise. Africa is scheduled to suffer disproportionately from the impact of this pandemic on the global economy (also on account of a lower demand for the continent’s exports, supply chain interruptions, reduced foreign direct investment and remittances, collapsed oil and commodity prices and greatly diminished revenues from tourism). Aid, government rescue packages and subsidies, debt rescheduling and public-private partnerships are now essential, both in regard to the short-term survival of those most adversely affected and for the swift re-start of economic activities when circumstances will allow. The leadership culture in each country on the continent is likely to play an important role – as it does elsewhere – on both the management of the health crisis and the mitigation of the collateral economic damage resulting therefrom.

While Aid in Africa had led the DIHAD International Scientific Advisory Board (DISAB) to decide that the DIHAD 2020 event would focus thereon, the Coronavirus has both prevented us from convening in March 2020 and since then added an inescapable perspective to our now postponed event (15-17 March 2021). As usual, it is planned for the Conference to focus on practical aspects of selected areas of concern, thereby exchanging views, identifying best practices and – hopefully – contributing constructively to a more effective global approach towards and within the continent in question.

We will again gather friends and colleagues from national government authorities, international and non-governmental organisations, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, foundations and charities, academic institutions, the media and the private sector; many will be from Africa. Moreover we will, as always, promote new partnerships among participants as well as support the strengthening of existing collaborative arrangements; this for the benefit of those we are collectively dedicated to assist in our respective aid-oriented endeavours.

The DIHAD 2021 Conference Programme will review, duly focusing on Africa as it is impacted by the Coronavirus: ongoing conflicts and humanitarian crises; climate change; population growth, education and employment; aid flows and economic growth; natural resources, water, energy and land; exacerbated health challenges and, as a Special Session, the shaping of African Futures beyond Covid-19… As in previous editions, we will duly attempt to come up with a number of actionable agreed conclusions and recommendations.

On behalf of DIHAD’s International Scientific Advisory Board (DISAB), I am very pleased to invite you to attend the event’s 17th edition. We much look forward to welcoming you and to thank, on that occasion, all who actively contribute to the acknowledged success of the Conference, the Premium Webinars held online in the intervening year, the pre-Conference Workshop and the Exhibition.

Each edition of this unique event, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime-Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, highlights different aspects of our collective humanitarian aid and development endeavours. Moreover, the selected theme and related presentations, as well as the interaction that takes place both at the event and in the margins thereof, continue to enhance the knowledge that humanitarian and development actors have about each other, thereby ensuring greater clarity in regard to respective roles, capacities and mandates and further reinforcing the notion of effective coordinated action.

DIHAD 2021 promises to be, yet again, a landmark event!

H.E. Amb. Gerhard Putman-Cramer
Director, DIHAD International Scientific Advisory Board – DISAB