The UAE’s President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has declared 2017 as the Year of Giving. On this occasion, and in light of the New Year, I wish to share a few heartfelt words on what ‘giving’ is, and why the UAE is dedicating a year to it.
‘Giving’ is a value we cherish and saw personified in the UAE’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed. We continue to see this philanthropic legacy embodied by his sons and ingrained in the DNA of our society. Through my humble experience, I believe giving is not limited to monetary donations. Rather, “giving” is defined by the differences we make: the differences in someone’s life, in a society, or in a nation. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy is not measured in the generous donations he made to the less fortunate only, but in the impact he has had on our lives and our country forever. This is our goal for the Year of Giving – to make a difference in the lives of those we care for, and in ourselves.
To achieve this, the first step is asking ourselves exactly how we can make a difference. Every father, mother, son and daughter can ask him or herself how they can contribute to the advancement of their families and communities. All of us have the capability and capacity to make a real difference in the lives of those around us. There are so many ways to give. We can give back to our environment – to clean beaches and deserts, to care for trees and to be kind to all inhabitants on our earth. ‘Giving’ is easy and abundant… it is feeding a bird, smiling at your neighbors, or going above and beyond at your job. If you are a person with power and responsibility, ‘giving’ is making your people happy, and being kind to them when you implement laws.
Volunteerism is another way to give: volunteer an hour, a day or a week of your time; volunteer your skills, your knowledge and your energy. Volunteer and make a difference in your society. When people spend their lives accumulating material assets and wealth, they quickly learn that there is no meaning in life unless they share their wealth in the service of others. No one can feel fulfilled until he or she starts ‘giving’ to make a difference.