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The Governance of Philanthropy in the UAE
The Governance of Philanthropy in the UAE
  • Abdulla Alkhateri
  • 승인 2018.09.16 13:31
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Abdulla Alkhateri (Student Reporter from Hanyang Univ.)

Philanthropic trends have been deeply rooted in the Arabic culture due to religious and traditional believes of socialism and communal work. The United Arabs Emirates (UAE) is one of the Gulf countries that have a profoundly rooted culture of donations and support for the needy in and outside the UAE. The emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi host the most philanthropic organizations with the former leading with a higher number of charitable ventures (ICNL, 2016). Proper control of philanthropic activities allows them to offer dedicated services to the general public of the UAE. Analysis into the governance of philanthropy in the UAE reveals that ministry of social affairs is the primary regulator, the face of philanthropy include the IHC and DIFC, and different laws monitors and manages charity work in the country.

The Governance of the Philanthropy in the UAE

Philanthropy in the UAE involves reception and expenditure of higher amounts concerning donations primarily meant for charitable activities. Therefore, there is the need for enactment of governance structure to ensure that the funds received by philanthropic organizations and prudently spent. Donors can feel the value for their donations when such donations are applied to assist the public interest per the perceived standards. For this reason, there are a number of levels through which governance is conducted to control philanthropic organizations in the UAE (Johnson, 2018). For instance, Ministry of Affairs is responsible for overseeing registration and operations of philanthropic organizations in the UAE at a federal level.

second control level is the emirate level. The emirate of Dubai has IACAD as the main body that registers philanthropic organizations that operate in Dubai. IHC too has the capacity of providing monetary services in the free trade zones under financial services. Thus, charitable organizations operating within the IHC mandate have the ability to offer financial services even to the United Nations (UN) agencies providing financial services for the support of philanthropic organizations in Dubai (Johnson, 2018). The fact that there are controls at emirate and federal levels of charitable organizations in the UAE show that there are adequate governance structures that assist in the process for collection and disbursement of donations to the needy parties. Strict adherence to the rules of the Ministry of Social Affairs and other relevant regulatory authorities as mentioned herein guarantees a philanthropic organization the chance to operate freely in the UAE.



The Faces of the Philanthropy in the UAE

There are a number of philanthropic organizations in the UAE that acts as the faces of philanthropy in the federal state. International Humanitarian City (IHC) and the DIFC are free to trade zones that allow philanthropic organizations to thrive in the UAE easily (Al-Shouk, 2016). These faces of philanthropy are essential in ensuring that the capital of UAE has capacity and access to efficient financial activities and services. Proper exchange of financial services and attributes of DIFC & IHC allows the faces of philanthropy to enhance levels of their services. The timing of collection and delivery of the respective services boost the response rate that is expected from the involvement of philanthropic services in UAE.

Establishment of the Ministry of Social Affairs is also a manifestation of the face of philanthropy in the UAE. The term ‘social affairs’ shows that the ministry is concerned with social issues; affecting persons living within the boundaries of a particular jurisdiction. Provision of healthcare needs and support in terms of relief foods given to the needy person’s falls under social affairs mandate and their fulfillment implies that use of philanthropic services. The existence of IACAD is also a face of philanthropy since it’s aimed at providing support and licensing to organizations that are geared towards promoting the welfare of the people living in UAE (Dubai in specific) (Olarte, 2009). In case there wasn’t any form of philanthropic activities and tendencies in Dubai then IACAD would have no basis to exist as a face of philanthropy.

The Laws for the Philanthropy in UAE

There are a number of federal and emirate level laws that supports philanthropic activities in the UAE. Some of the national level laws include The Federal Cabinet Resolution 22 which was enacted in the year 2009, Federal Law number 2 that was adopted in the year 2008 and the Federal Law number 29 that was enacted in the year 1999 (Latief, 2014). These federal laws provided frameworks for the control of activities undertaken by philanthropic organizations, and their reporting needs to the federal government through the ministry of social affairs. Thus, their existence has been a clear indicator of the wiliness of the federal monarchy of UAE to extend a helping hand to the needy people living within or outside the boundaries of the UAE.

Nevertheless, emirate laws that support and set trends for philanthropic organizations include Decree number 9 and Executive Council Resolution number 26 of 2013 (Latief, 2014). These laws are exclusive for the monarchy of Dubai and have jurisdiction within this emirate. Though the laws are permitted to operate in Dubai and might be accepted by the ministry of social affairs; they don’t apply in other emirates because they have their rules too. Separation of the laws governing philanthropy into federal and state levels is a two-tier governance structure that enhances service delivery to the citizens of UAE. These checkpoints allow the philanthropic organizations to ensure that they follow strict regulations by offering to support their course with entire donations that they receive from the public legally.

The Philanthropy Culture in the UEA

Philanthropic culture in the UAE is widespread and significantly entrenched in the attitudes and the notions of the citizens of UAE. For instance, most affluent families in the UAE have been involved in philanthropic activities since the beginning of the 21st century as a show of their commitment to sustaining the culture of philanthropy in the UAE. Maintaining social wellbeing of the societies in the UAE has been central even to the perceived capitalistic affluent rulers of the UAE. They have been driven by the tribal traditions and lured to support one another on the basis of founding and funding charitable organizations. The needy too, are less worried since they are sure that their woes can gently end once their plight of suffering is forwarded to the nearest responsible charitable organization that can offer support to them. Sharia laws also allow charitable organizations to offer support to the needy since they are grounded in the need for sharing proceed among neighbors. Formalizing sharing process has been the core of UAE’s culture of philanthropy since the 1970s; when it instituted the ministry of social affairs (Musa, 2009). Younger generations too have been interested in issues of philanthropy through ensuring that they understand the need to donate and help needy friends as enshrined in sharia laws.


The above article has presented a review of the governance of philanthropy in the UAE at the federal and emirate levels of the country. The central regulator at the federal level is the ministry of social affairs. This ministry has the mandate to regulate activities and scope of spending those philanthropic organizations adores. Faces of philanthropy in the UAE include the IHC, DIFC and the regulatory authorities such as IACAD and ministry of social affairs. These legal entities show that there are presences of philanthropy in the federal state of UAE and they have explicit mandates. Sharia culture of Muslims allows for sharing of proceeding among members of a family and neighbors. Thus, it is possible for philanthropic activities to thrive in UAE.




Al-Shouk, A. (2016). Authorities clarify UAE charity law. MSC News. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-ae/news/localnews/authorities-clarify-uae-charity-law/ar-BBw1Cmw

ICNL. (2016). The United Arabs Emirates. Law Report, 2(3), 1-23.

Johnson, P. D. (2018). The growth of institutional philanthropies in the United Arab Emirates. Social Affairs, 3(2), 34-56.

Latief, H. (2014). Gulf Charitable Organizations. Washington, DC: Middle East Institute online commentary.

Musa, S. T. (2009). Job satisfactions amongst social workers in the United Arab Emirates. International Journal of social Research, 1(2), 7-34.

Olarte, O. (2009). Charity organization have to submit data to UAE Offices. Khaleej Times Online, 2(4), 6-12.

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