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Year of Giving: UAE Pushes for Companies to Make CSR Commitments

14 June, 2017
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Before the fireworks and bells ringing in 2017 sounded off, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan made a big declaration: the coming year would be one grounded in philanthropy and be thus called the Year of Giving.

The UAE has a status for giving that is known worldwide, having ranked among the most generous countries in the world in 2016. But in 2017, the country wanted to create a plan that would allow for the roots attached to the spirit of giving to grow deeper. The country created a plan for the Year of Giving that was divided into three pillars: volunteering, serving the nation and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Holding true to its promise, the UAE’s Ministry of Economy announced in mid-June that CSR would become voluntary for all companies operating in the private sector and cumpolsory for large corporations, but a system would be created that ensured the importance of CSR among UAE companies, according to Gulf News.

While the strategy’s implementation remains in the works, UAE officials have been clear that the main objective remains the integration of a culture of giving into every corner of business.

“Ever since the country declared 2017 as the Year of Giving, national efforts have started to contribute to the development of an integrated framework that will spread the culture of giving across the country,” UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri said on June 12.

The minister’s statements coincided with the launch of 11 initiatives that would target creating workplaces that take up philanthropy as part of their value system. To monitor companies’ commitments to philanthropic causes, the government will create a database that includes information about which companies are contributing to society’s development. All companies that are committed to carrying out CSR initiatives will be required to disclose their information to the government.

“The government seeks to ensure AED500m ($136.24 million) in financial aid and in-kind support by UAE-based companies in furtherance of their commitment to CSR this year,” said Al Mansouri.

To help companies move forward, the UAE has created an electronic platform (http://www.csruae.ae/) through which companies can register and monitor what areas in society are in need in order to gauge the best way to carry out their CSR initiatives. The platform will also administer information on how to implement CSR initiatives through guides and examples.

While it may be enough for companies to feel proud of the philanthropic work they carry out for the benefit of society, the government has attached a few carrots to their CSR push. A CSR Index will rank companies according to their contributions and a “social responsibility passport” will be awarded to the top five companies that will grant special privileges with local and federal government agencies, the Khaleej Times reported.

Registration on the CSR electronic platform will be open for companies in July, and the ministry expects for the process of accessing companies’ CSR commitments to take place in mid-2018.

The Year of Giving has seen a flood of commitments by UAE companies and entities that want to help their communities and raise awareness for different causes, particularly within the spirt of the holy month of Ramadan.

Global Village, a well-known UAE festival park, recently concluded its “Happiness Box” campaign as part of the Year of Giving. The initiative involved the distribution of 1,000 “Happiness Boxes”—full of food items, drinks, self-care products, etc.—to students, who were then asked to pass them on to those in need.  

Even brands like Costa Coffee are putting stock into the Year of Giving. Costa stores in Dubai launched a campaign this week to support the idea by giving customers the chance to gift certain items to the Emirates Red Crescent.

Photo credit: Crown Prince of Dubai Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum donates blood in honor of the Year of Giving / www.fazza.ae

Tags United Arab Emirates Year of Giving Corporate Social Responsibility CSR Costa Coffee Global Village