Mohammed launches Dubai Cares
Sheikh Mohammed launched the Dubai Cares initiative on September 19, 2007. The following is a translation of his speech as published in Gulf News.
Ladies and gentlemen, first, let me congratulate you on the occasion of the Holy Month of Ramadan. I pray that God will give each of us the strength to fulfill our duties during the Holy Month, the desire to absorb its values to the core of our being, and the integrity to ensure these values are reflected in our deeds.
Ramadan is a blessed month for Moslems around the world. Our hearts fill with shared joy in our religion, our souls are lifted and we are swayed by the spirit of the Holy Month to offer mercy and compassion.
Let the enduring spirit of Sadaqah (Charity) be the guiding light for our actions throughout the Holy Month. Let it shape our good intentions so they become deeds whose consequences are positive, immense and far reaching.
Education offers one of the clearest and most effective ways to turn good intentions into actions that change the lives of people immeasurably and for the better. The satisfaction to be gained from a single act that helps the needy or curbs injustice can be immense. Imagine how much stronger that satisfaction must be if that act helps - as only education can - to free generation after generation from grinding poverty.
The patrons of education leave a lasting mark on history. The opening of the first school in the UAE in 1903, for example, is a defining moment in the history of the nation and continues to be regarded as one of the greatest events in the country's modern history. Our history books record the contributions of UAE's education pioneers such as: Mohammed bin Ahmad Dalmouk, Khalaf bin Oteiba, Ali Mahmoud, Mohammed Zeinal and a host of others.
The names of those pioneers who put their efforts into opening schools and providing the funding to support education, will be longest remembered and are an undeniable part of our history. Those who forget their responsibilities towards their community are soon forgotten.
Brothers and sisters, education holds out hope for the future, enrichment for the present, and dignity for mankind. It helps us to communicate with each other. It helps nations to hurdle the barriers to understanding. It provides a solid basis from which societies can grow and flourish.
God Almighty said: "O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa". (Al Hujurat -13)
But, could the ignorant communicate with the educated? Do societies that continue to accept widespread illiteracy have any chance to bridge the gap between themselves and the educated world?
Education, through its ability to open eyes to new possibilities and extend horizons, offers a channel for communication between humans, a necessity as the Holy Quran tells us.
The importance of education has increased tremendously in the "Knowledge Age". Promoting education and providing the support it needs to flourish are now prerequisites for global development. Those who are deprived of education will inevitably fall behind and dwell in a shadowland. They will never know the true essence of their religion, nor learn its valuable teachings. They will always be dependent on others and face the prospect of becoming burdens on themselves, their societies and the whole world.
Brothers and sisters, since the era of the late Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid, may God ensure their souls rest in peace, the UAE has been committed to offering support and help to our fraternal brothers and sisters in the Arab and Moslem worlds across Africa and Asia. The country's contributions were made in many fields, and especially in the field of education.
From early on in our history pioneering UAE businessmen have appreciated the importance of education. Mr. Juma Al Majid, for example, has been an outstanding role model. His support for education has resulted in Mr. Juma being considered an outstanding figure and a celebrated patron across the Arab and Islamic Worlds.
The UAE's remarkable successes at various local and regional levels have increased its prominence as an economic and cultural bridge between the East and the West. By accepting this crucial role we accept at the same time the duty to promote education in its entirety.
Last May, I launched the "Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation" for human development. Knowledge and Education are key components of the vision and mission of the foundation and underpin its activities. We expect the Foundation to become a showcase for the benefits of long term education initiatives for humanity in general and for our region in particular.
Today, I seize this opportunity presented by the Holy Month of Ramadan to announce the "Dubai Cares" campaign, which focuses on supporting education for children in a number of the world's poorest countries.
I invite you to take part and support this campaign. I strongly believe that together, we can reshape the future of underdeveloped countries in the region and globally. The campaign's mission is to help spread education in these countries by securing necessary funds.
Building new schools and classrooms, providing books, food and medical care for unprivileged children are among the campaign's key objectives.
Brother and sisters, eight years ago, the international community set the millennium development goals all countries pledged to fulfill. One of the main goals was to guarantee that every child will receive a basic education by the end of 2015. The realities on the ground are not promising and it looks unlikely that this goal will be met on time.
There are 120 million school-age children across the world who do not have access to education. A third of the children in developing countries cannot complete five years of education, the minimum required to achieve basic literacy.
Unfortunately, the biggest proportion of these deprived children is in Asia and Africa, especially in the Islamic world and the neighboring countries. This is in spite of the value placed on education in our holy book, as the first Aya that was sent to the world was a call for reading: IQRA'A.
Even the holy sayings of our prophet place education on the same level as worship, and even at a better place.
Brothers and sisters, thanks to Allah, we, in the UAE, enjoy a high standard of living. One of the secrets of our success and progress has been our ability and readiness to create opportunities and seize them in a timely fashion.
But opportunities do not grow on trees and cannot be achieved by wishing or dreaming. They are attained by taking the one clear path - the path of knowledge.
Education is the bulldozer that makes this path navigable, guiding people along its course and towards their destination. Knowledge gives people the chance to live in pride, progress and prosperity.
Expanding education in all of our emirates, and encouraging thousands upon thousands of university and higher college graduates, from our boys and girls, is the solid platform on which we will achieve progress and prosperity.
Advancing education remains an unquestionable priority. We have started the race against time to achieve an Emirati education that meets the highest international standards.
This Dubai Cares campaign, that I am launching today, seeks to shine the light of knowledge and dispel the darkness of ignorance. Its aim is to give the children of poor countries hope for the future and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty that threatens to entrap them and consign their families to a life with no real future.
Through education they can become positive contributors in the prosperity of their communities and countries.
Brothers and sisters, wherever ignorance reigns so does poverty, illness, misery and despair, and people start believing in fiction and illusions. The worst disease in this world is the unbreakable partnership between ignorance and poverty.
This partnership is the source of all evil from which many countries suffer and it is the root of persecution, and the main reason for divisions in the world between a wealthy North and a poor South, between advanced countries and deprived countries, between societies that know, and societies that do not know.
The only way to break this partnership between ignorance and poverty is by relentlessly attacking ignorance and by exerting every effort to spread education. We are doing our duty, regardless of the fact that many countries have resigned from playing their role in combating illiteracy worldwide and the international community is not able to fulfill its promises.
We are doing what we see as our duty by our religion, our traditions, our humanity and our deep belief that the person who turns his back on the suffering of his brothers and sisters doesn't deserve to be called as human.
Therefore I am confident that you will participate in Dubai Care initiative for education.
I expect you, Emiratis and expatriates, to compete in charity and to participate in every way you find suitable. And I expect from the private sector a substantial contribution, including the international corporations and their offices in the UAE.
In our country, we added to our Arab and Islamic values a bright international horizon with a diverse mixture of companies, cultures and nationalities from all over the world.
This mixture offers a successful model of coexistence and collaboration. We are all invited today to develop this model and give it a humanitarian dimension through our collaborative donation to our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than our Emirati nationals and the expat residents who have helped our country and helped themselves to achieve what they could not in their home countries.
Today, I announce the start of Dubai Cares campaign, empowered by your will and determination.
I am pleased to announce that I, together with my sons and daughters, will participate actively to ensure the success of this campaign.
I expect everyone to participate personally and that you will motivate your family members to contribute as well, so we can all fulfill our duty in what pleases our Creator and our own conscience. We need to implant the culture of donation in our society and give our children a heritage that incorporates the noble values that we inherited from our ancestors and which have now become one of the highest universal values. These values gain more territory every day.
They have new heroes every day, competing for the welfare of their brothers and sisters in humanity.
Gulf NewsWednesday, September 19, 2007