Dubai's International Humanitarian City (IHC) is home to humanitarian organisations and companies that supply and support them. Members include the World Health Organization, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Food Program and UNICEF.
The International Humanitarian City's Deputy CEO Khalid Alawadhi says the aim of the IHC when it was set up in 2003 was simple.
"The International Humanitarian City was set up by his Highness, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, who has a vision for the future and not for the current time. We're talking about a city that has expanded its operations from a warehouse in downtown. We're talking about a size that has quadrupled. So we're talking about more than 130000 square metres of warehousing space, offices and opening yard areas. Basically, the main infrastructure for them to be able to respond to any emergency happening on the international level."
So far International Humanitarian City has handled 85 percent of the global supplies distributed by the World Health Organization as part of its medical response to COVID-19. Khalid Alawadhi insists Dubai's location and logistical infrastructure have played a crucial role in fighting the pandemic.
"Dubai has a strategic location in order to respond to two thirds of the world's population within less than eight hours of flight. It's essential to really minimise the time frame for responding to any emergency."
In recent weeks Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has made personal donations to help those most in need during the pandemic.
A growing logistics hub
In May, International Humanitarian City announced the expansion of its facilities, enabling organisations to send additional emergency relief items, a move only made possible through international and local support.
"That's part of the nature and how people were raised in the UAE, says Alawadhi, adding: "I'm not talking about the UAE nationals, I'm talking about any person which is resident today in the UAE has embedded these kind of humanitarian aspects that you need to provide support. We have been fortunate in the UAE today that, yes, we are living in a good standard and a good quality of life. But giving is a much more important element than just being comfortable. This is why the government of Dubai and the government of UAE overall, as has always said, yes to any services and any support that is required. We're talking about over 20 flights that have been performed as a donation both by the ruler of Dubai just in 2019."
As a medical, logistics and supply hub, the IHC has grown four times its original size. The next target is to integrate more technology so that the aid groups located at the facility can reach their goal of protecting one billion people from health emergencies.