Interview : Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili
What role does the DCD play in Abu Dhabi’s social development priorities, and what metrics will be used to ensure the success of its programmes?
MUGHEER KHAMIS AL KHAILI: The DCD’s role is to oversee, empower and regulate the social and community development sector in Abu Dhabi and its enabling entities, to provide people with quality, effective and accessible care and services. We want to ensure that the strategies of all the relevant entities are aligned and fulfil the ultimate vision of the emirate, which is to ensure a decent life for all members of society. To create effective policies, we need to ensure there is no overlap between the existing strategies and that the various departments are aware of the social services being delivered to avoid duplication. For example, when assisting people of determination, we need to consider the support they require throughout every stage of their life. This requires us to have a high degree of connectivity to ensure all their services will be delivered at the right time, are of good quality and are cost effective. As a new entity, we need to make sure that we build our capacity to deliver strategies rooted in the needs of our community.
We work in a research-based, science-led way informed by insights gained directly from the community across its segments – this is how we ensure our work is sustainable and viable. We have conducted a social survey measuring where Abu Dhabi stands on different social metrics including health, education, security, income, housing and quality of life. This has provided us with some guidance on the social priorities that need to be addressed. It has also allowed us to evaluate our existing programmes to ensure they reach targets, and are accessible and economically feasible.
In what ways does Abu Dhabi facilitate the integration of all segments of society?
AL KHAILI: We must develop strategies based on the needs of everyone in our community. Our strategy rests on three guiding principles. First, we believe that social development is a shared responsibility that can only be achieved when the government, private sector and community work together. It is a collaboration and joint effort that will foster an active, responsible and engaged community, ensuring that everyone is mobilised to contribute to the emirate’s shared wealth. Second, we acknowledge that the government has an important role to play in securing a decent standard of living for every Emirati. As such, we will provide subsidies and support to members of the community facing economic challenges so that they can support themselves and their families. As an example, we are making housing more accessible, ensuring that people of determination have the same living standards as everyone else. Third, we firmly believe that a tolerant and inclusive society is founded on cohesive families. The emphasis on family cohesion will cover all members, young and old, especially as life expectancy in the UAE has risen sharply in recent years.
How can the private sector be encouraged to participate in social development?
AL KHAILI: Historically, there has been no clear regulation of social businesses or investments in social services. This has made participating in social enterprises difficult for private investors, as different licences were required. Our focus will be on crafting policies and regulating Abu Dhabi’s social sector, enabling it to morph into an environment that is attractive for volunteers, professionals and organisations operating in this space. We hope to accelerate investments in social enterprises and create an ecosystem that is conducive to the formation of non-profits and volunteer organisations that are able to address important social challenges. We want to encourage corporations to move away from the corporate social responsibility model to a corporate social investment model, making them more impactful. We also aim to channel more funds into programmes and organisations that focus on social development.
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