DUBAI, 9 April 2004 — DIHAD 2004, the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Redevelopment Conference under way since Tuesday, has been described as a successful “meeting of minds.”
The objectives of the conference coincide with the very mandate of the OPEC Fund for International Development, according to Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish, director-general of the Vienna-based OPEC Fund for International Development.
The OPEC Fund is the development finance agency of OPEC countries set up in 1976 to help bring social and economic development to the world’s poorer countries.
DIHAD 2004, being held in the Middle East for the first time, has brought together an assembly of international institutions and international business and representatives of key intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations as well as individuals involved in humanitarian assistance delivery.
The event is jointly sponsored by Mohammad ibn Rashid Al-Maktoum Humanitarian & Charity Establishment, the Dubai Aid City and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority, with additional support from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Al-Herbish, a Saudi national who assumed directorship of the OPEC Fund last November, remarked that the objectives of the conference coincided with the very mandate of the OPEC Fund.
In his address to the 4th session of the Wednesday segment of the conference, he drew attention to the operations and cumulative accomplishments of his institution.
He outlined the socio-economic problems confronting the contemporary world and said the preparedness, commitment and expressed goodwill of all in attendance were challenged. “Poverty among our neighbors is widespread; destitution and disease are on the rise; and the statistics are not encouraging. More than 800 million people suffer from hunger, thousands perish from preventable diseases and vast numbers of the young are growing up unable to read or write,” he added.
The world’s poor wanted food, water, jobs and basic health care. They needed schools and hospitals and expected prospects of a better future for their children. “And then, there is the imperative to lower mortality rates, check the advance of HIV/AIDS and halt environmental degradation. Over a 28-year period, the OPEC Fund has worked to help bring development worldwide and seek to alleviate the suffering of humankind in general.
The OPEC Fund has contributed significantly to projects and programs and initiatives in the Middle East and Africa, both through its “lending programs” and “grants window” and through its extensive network of partner institutions, which include other Arab, OPEC and Islamic development institutions.
The OPEC Fund, according to him, has paid particular attention to grant support of projects and programs, which do not qualify for loan financing. He cited the fund’s efforts at emergency assistance and humanitarian relief, drawing attention, one, endowed with $30 million to join the UN-led global campaign against HIV/AIDS and the other to assist Palestinians.
OPEC/Arab/Islamic development institutions, under the mechanism of Coordination Group are streamlining procedures and unifying standards to deliver greater assistance to the world’s poor. This partnership, together, has devoted to development cooperation in over 40 years close to $80 billion in commitments building bridges, financing trade and taking equity in institutions and enterprises all over the developing world, Al-Herbish said.