May. 4, 2020

Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi

Undersecretary of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Economy

The UAE is encouraging organizations to take up CSR initiatives.


Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi has been the Undersecretary for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Economy since 2006. Al-Shehhi has provided strategic leadership to the Ministry of Economy in aligning policies and administration with global economic parameters and the visionary UAE 2021 vision. In the last five years, he supervised the comprehensive program of the ministry to review and modernize the entire legal framework regarding economic activities in the UAE. He holds an EMBA from the American University of Sharjah and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of South Florida in the US.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming the smartest effort to secure the well-being of both mankind and nature. By definition, CSR denotes various forms of voluntary activities organizations carry out to achieve economic and social goals, adopting and encouraging a positive impact on the environment where such organizations operate. The recent sense of corporate in CSR extends to beyond commercial, profit-making entities to cover not-for-profit organizations and even government agencies. Under the current unprecedented rapid growth in the awareness of the importance of CSR, the future of many organizations is becoming largely reliant on how far entities are committed to practicing the concept in countries where they operate.

For the past two decades, organizations everywhere have been involved in a CSR marathon to achieve sustainable development in their societies, environments, and nature at large. Many innovations and creative activities have been introduced to bring novel initiatives to better people's lives, build development infrastructure, and protect the environment.

In the UAE, an internationally recognized top philanthropic country by the World Giving Index (WGI), the government envisions making a drastic change in the concept of CSR, moving from merely contributing to charity activities to launching well-organized development initiatives. To achieve its CSR goals, the government aims to establish creative sustainable development projects in line with the country's strategy for improving humanitarian, social, economic, and environment levels.

In its race toward total sustainable development, the UAE government launched a CSR track as a part of its National Strategy for the Year of Giving 2017 under the umbrella of its Ministry of Economy. With this strategy, the country is striving to achieve sustainable development through effective partnership between official government authorities and private-sector entities. Such partnership springs from a long-term vision to deepen the culture of development and social work throughout the country.

To carry out the strategy, the CSR UAE Fund was formed under the UAE Ministerial Cabinet decree to raise awareness about the values of CSR, to launch and coordinate a sustainable development partnership between the public and private sectors, enhance the CSR framework, create a CSR privileges framework, and engage corporations to contribute to community development projects. Other programs launched to achieve the UAE's CSR objectives include the CSR UAE Smart Platform, a national portal built for corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to take an active part in initiating sustainable development projects, initiatives, and programs adopted by the government. The CSR UAE Index, an annual performance measurement index of CSR and sustainability practices in the UAE at a micro and macro level, was also launched. Macro-level rankings will come from comparing 32 sustainability indicators grouped under the six areas of sustainable economies, human capital, community development, responsible procurement and supply chain management, climate action and sustainable consumption with other countries. Micro-level rankings will measure and analyze CSR and sustainability practices based on the value and impact of their contribution to the UAE's national sustainable development priorities and other social and environmental programs. Additionally, we have begun activating CSR Networks, a city-based coordination platform to boost collaboration between nonprofit organizations, public and private sectors, and enhance each emirate's CSR agenda.

In all these endeavors, we draw inspiration from the words of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, who said, “The real wealth is hard work that benefits the person and the community." Being a responsible business in the UAE now has a clear institutional structure, and many milestones have been achieved since CSR's adoption in the National Development Strategy.