7 November 2015: Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, Wife of Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, yesterday received the prestigious 2015 Giglio d’Oro Award at a ceremony held in Florence, Italy. The Award was presented to her for her outstanding contributions in the humanitarian field.
The Giglio d’Oro is awarded annually by the Italy-based Galileo 2000 Foundation to individuals who make significant contributions to peace, music and art.
In her acceptance speech, Princess Haya paid tribute to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed: “The recipient should have been my husband, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed – without his loving support and generosity, I would not have been able to do nearly so much.
I am deeply honoured by this recognition of my humanitarian work I do on behalf of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the United Nations. I will treasure this Award, not as a reminder of all that has been done, but as a reminder of all there is still to do.”
Princess Haya has been widely recognised for her contributions to global humanitarian causes. In her role as a UN Messenger of Peace, she is dedicated to helping raise global awareness of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. The chairwoman of the International Humanitarian City in Dubai, she is a former World Food Programme (WFP) Ambassador Against Hunger.
Dubai and the UAE, she said, are at the forefront of the global humanitarian effort. “Few people know this, but the UAE has moved into the number one position among the world’s donors, giving 1.2 percent of GNI every year to foreign aid in more than 100 countries – nearly $5 billion from a country of only 8 million people,” she said in her speech.
Princess Haya further said that HH Sheikh Mohammed’s recent humanitarian initiatives exemplify a creative and innovative approach to aid. She told the audience about His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s recently established Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, which will launch the largest and most comprehensive development programme in the Arab region.
Speaking about the global humanitarian effort, she said though impressive progress has been made in the fight against poverty, hunger and disease, more needs to be done. “The question is not, what have we done well, but how can we do more as we race the hourglass of poverty, of hunger, of disease,” she said.
Recognising the contributions of aid workers around the world, she said: “My personal list of heroes includes the aid workers in Medecins Sans Frontiers, the World Food Programme, the UN peacekeepers, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, to name a few. They often struggle against great odds with little reward and each and every one of them is deserving of our recognition, respect and support.”
During her visit to Florence, Princess Haya also delivered an address at the Global Mayor’s Summit held on Thursday under the theme ‘Unity in Diversity’. Stressing that the notion of ‘Unity in Diversity’ is critical for cities to progress, Princess Haya shared with the audience the story of how Dubai’s rulers made their vision of connecting people in an environment that embraces ‘Unity in Diversity’ a reality.
“Dubai’s vision of connecting people dates back to the early 1800’s and although recent years have seen its transformation from a fishing village into one of the most dynamic metropolises in the world, some things have not changed in two centuries of the Maktoum family’s rule,” she said.
In the UAE, Emiratis work alongside an incredible mix of expatriates from almost 200 nationalities. Religious, racial and ethnic tolerance enrich the city and allow it to attract talent from all over the world, working in harmony, she told the Summit.
“The Maktoum family realised early on that the future depended greatly on the people who passed through and stayed in Dubai; people who needed to feel that they were free to flourish and prosper without risk,” she added.
“We have the world represented in Dubai, and in many ways, I believe, Dubai is also a microcosm of the modern world,” she said.