COMPASSIONATE United Arab Emirates (UAE)

By Brioné LaThrop

Launching the Compassion Games in the United Arab Emirates, a place I believe to be the most compassionate country in the world, has taught me to be more compassionate towards myself.

In 2013, the UAE provided almost $6 billion in foreign aid, the highest achieved by any country in 50 years.  In 2014 and 2015, the United Arab Emirates gave more foreign aid per capita than any other country in the world. Those statistics alone are impressive. However, the implementation of those funds is quite staggering. Irrespective of religion, race and sex these investments translate into billions of compassionate acts in over 178 countries since the nation’s inception.

It’s easy to forget how young the UAE is when you view the breadth of its development. That story of the biggest, the tallest, the most expensive is told with a far greater frequency than the principles the country was founded on, including giving to those less fortunate and sharing with those in need.

The UAE was born in 1971 with a commitment to sharing that was intricately woven into the fabric of the nation’s DNA. “We believe that the benefit of the fortune granted to us by God should spread to cover our brothers and friends,” said the great late humanitarian, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE.

The country’s current leaders and their policies remain rooted in these values. “Humanitarian diplomacy is one of the main pillars of our foreign policy, and our country will continue to support international efforts to respond to disasters and answer the call for relief,” said President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

The UAE's foreign policy is dictated by both the Islamic belief that helping those in need is a primary duty and that part of the nation’s wealth should be devoted to assisting less fortunate countries and individuals.

Enter the Compassion Games

Given UAE’s commitment to sharing, it is only natural that the Compassion Games have come here and I have been delighted to be part of the Games.

As the timer counts down and the enthusiasm increases I have to take stock of all the wonderful doors that continue to open up to make the actual Games a reality, like my conversation with Sana Bagersh about promoting an event for the Games and her gifting us with a cover story in Tempo Magazine (The UAE's Community Magazine for Creativity, Youth, Innovation and Art for Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Gulf). There’s also that conversation to extend the Joy of Eid campaign (an initiative that is turning online smiles into resources for schools) with the Yas Island Team through to the International Day of Peace that was met with a positive response. My friend’s quick email to the Green Sheikh (a world renown environmentalist) and his interest in collaborating on future Games was another door opening.

All these wonderful coincidences seem to be conspiring together to make the Games happen and I think my biggest challenge is to move aside and let the energy take shape and transform those who are meant to highlight the beauty and generosity of this wonderful country; and of course remember to practice compassion towards self. If we are successful highlighting even 1% of the enormous humanitarian footprint left behind by the UAE, then I believe the Global Unity Games in the UAE will be an unprecedented success. To top it off, if I can remember to show the same level of kindness to myself, it will be a personal triumph.

Game on!

To learn about and participate in the Compassion Games, click here.

Brioné LaThrop: As one of the 9 million residents who call the United Arab Emirates home, Brioné like so many others is inspired by the visionary leadership of the nation’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His ability to construct a nation while carefully interweaving giving and compassion as cornerstone principles of the country remains one of his most enduring legacies and sources of inspiration.

Prior to teaching overseas, Brioné enjoyed a vibrant career in the arts, rooted in the recording industry, where she served as the Project Manager in the Management division of Uptown Records and later as the General Manager of Al B. Sure!’s Suretime Records. Her projects were broad in scope encompassing every aspect of the multi-platinum careers of Al B. Sure!, Jodeci, Heavy D & the Boyz along with other artists.

She was the co-founder and Executive Producer of the Collective, a full service video production and commercial house has successfully written and produced tens of dozens of music videos, in addition, to serving as a writer and producer in the commercial industry for commercial clients such as Coca-Cola and Reebok.

Since moving to Abu Dhabi, Brioné has served on the Board of Directors of Women in Film & Television UAE, has co-founded and was the Managing Producer of the Abu Dhabi Korean Film Series, the Abu Dhabi Korean Film Festival and was the Executive and Managing Producer of Women’s Voices from the Muslim World Short Film Festival in Abu Dhabi.

Brioné is not only an educator, but also a storyteller and the creator of “New Fairytales & Fables from the UAE,” an Emirati cultural literacy project that promotes the rich Emirati storytelling tradition, celebrates the remarkable talents of UAE students and their work; while it also introduces other key aspects of Emirati culture and heritage including the preservation and re-integration of 25 archetypical traditional characters into the UAE’s cultural landscape.


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This article appears in: 2016 Catalyst, Issue 16: 11 Days of Global Unity & International Day of Peace