Social and Cultural

The UAE is an innovative social investor, seeking ways to expand opportunities for UAE citizens and help address regional and global challenges. Among top UAE priorities are educational reform, improving healthcare, expanding the role of women, and preserving the environment. The UAE has found a partner and ally in the United States to accomplish these domestic goals.


In 1975, the rate of adult literacy was 54 percent among men and 31 percent among women. Today, literacy rates for both genders are nearly 95 percent. 

The UAE’s values of tolerance and openness are best reflected in the progress of Emirati women in education. Less than forty years ago, few women attended school but His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, personally spearheaded movements to provide education to all women. Today, more Emirati women complete secondary education and enroll in university and post-graduate institutions than men. New initiatives have been launched across all educational levels with US partners playing a key role. 

  • New York University-Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and sciences campus with a robust research component to be operated abroad by a major US university.
  • The New England Center for Children, a Massachusetts school serving children with autism, will establish a comprehensive special education program as well as train and qualify a number of UAE nationals to provide services in Arabic.
  • MIT is helping develop the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi. The Institute, which focuses on clean energy technologies, will be the region’s first institution dedicated to research-driven graduate programs.
  • The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has partnered with Dubai World to create the Dubai Leaders Program.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology has established a new Dubai campus.
  • Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health is helping to establish a public health doctoral program in the Emirates.
  • The Emirates Leadership Initiative, a partnership between the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the UAE, promotes educational exchanges between the UAE and US and helps train and empower emerging leaders and public officials across the UAE and the Middle East. 
  • The Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Nahyan fellowship, held in collaboration with Yale University, challenges young professionals in education and health to devise a unique project in their field.


Health care delivery in parts of the UAE is undergoing a significant transformation, and the UAE is working with leading US institutions to enhance its health care system.

  • Johns Hopkins University Hospital and the UAE government have a long partnership dating back to the 1980's. The hospital has been instrumental in developing the capacity of the UAE's healthcare infrastructure through assistance with management and oversight of three of UAE's major hospitals - Tawam Hospital, Corniche Hospital and Al Rahba Hospital. In 2012, Johns Hopkins officials unveiled the Sheikh Zayed Cardiovascular and Critical Care Tower, resulting from a significant 2007 donation to Johns Hopkins Medicine from His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.
  • Children's National Medical Center (CNMC) has a long standing relationship with the UAE and treats Emirati patients at its Washington, DC location every year. In addition, CNMC maintains a medical office in Abu Dhabi, which coordinates conferences and continuing medical education courses for medical staff and facilitates second opinion services via the internet and telemedicine, bringing the expertise offered at CNMC to the citizens of the UAE. In 2009, Abu Dhabi gifted $150 million to found the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. The Sheikh Zayed Institute is breaking new ground in research that is making pediatric surgery more precise, less painful, and less invasive for children in the US, the UAE, and around the world.
  • In January 2011, the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, founded by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, made a record $150 million donation to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in January 2011. The donation will fund research and the building of the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.
  • The Cleveland Clinic is not only creating but also operating a new world-class hospital in the UAE. Cleveland Clinic took over management of Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi. In 2012, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, announced a $5 million gift to the Cleveland Clinic to establish a chair in cardiothoracic surgery research. Part of the grant will support specialized training and capacity building measures for Emirati doctors. 
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in collaboration with the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the US State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, is developing programs with UAE women’s groups, government officials, physicians and medical organizations to raise awareness of breast cancer, and facilitate more effective outcomes in prevention and treatment.
  • Boston University and Dubai Healthcare City have opened a dental school in the Emirate.


The UAE Constitution guarantees equal rights for both men and women. Under the Constitution, women enjoy the same legal status, claim to titles, access to education, the right to practice professions, and the right to inherit property as men. Women are also guaranteed the same access to employment, health and family welfare facilities. The international community has recognized the UAE's commitment to advancing women's rights in the region and across the globe. The UAE leads the Middle East and North Africa in gender equality, ranking highest out of the region in the World Economic Forum's 2013 Global Gender Gap Report. Further, the UAE is an active participant in the global dialogue on women's rights - and was elected to serve on the Executive Council of UN Women for a three-year term from 2013-2015 and re-elected to continue in its role until 2018.

Nine women serve in the UAE Cabinet. Women fill two-thirds of public-sector posts, and 30 percent of those are decision-making positions. Women make up 20 percent of the diplomatic corps. In October 2008, the first female judge was appointed. 

  • In November 2015, Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi became president of the Federal National Council (FNC), making her the first woman in the region to lead a national assembly. She previously served as the FNC’s deputy speaker. 
  • Women make up 20% of the diplomatic corps, including female ambassadors to the United Nations, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Spain, Portugal, the Holy See and Montenegro. In 2013 Lana Nusseibeh presented her credentials to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Ambassador Nusseibeh is the first Emirati female permanent representative to the UN.
  • The UAE has four women fighter pilots, the first to serve in UAE military forces, and has also trained dozens of women to work with the country's special security forces.  
  • Women finance one-third of the transactions in the financial and banking sector and as of 2014, over 20,000 companies in the UAE are owned by Emirati women.
  • The UAE has worked with US partners to further the success of its professional women. Vital Voices, a Washington-based nongovernmental organization, and the US State have established the MENA Businesswomen’s Network. The Dubai Business Women’s Council is among the network’s seven founding members. Their aim is to build a network of businesswomen, increase the number of women in business, increase the value of their businesses, advance the role of women overall in society, and promote a regional culture of women's entrepreneurship.


Art and culture play a central role in enhancing international relations and developing a deeper understanding between the UAE and the United States.

  • New York-based Guggenheim Museum will establish a world-class museum in the UAE devoted to modern and contemporary art, to be known as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
  • National Geographic Entertainment and Imagenation Abu Dhabi have committed $100 million for the production of 15 movies and documentaries for theatrical release.
  • Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 and Media Zone Authority have worked on high-profile productions including Star Wars: Episode VIIFast & Furious 7 and Deliver Us From Evil.
  • The UAE has Sister City relationships between Detroit and Dubai and Houston and Abu Dhabi.
  • In 2014, the first major touring exhibition of Emirati art, Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates, was launched in the US, featuring over fifty paintings, sculptures, photographs and works in other media.  


2017 Hurricane Recovery

Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which brought flooding and destruction to communities in Texas and Florida in 2017, the UAE government pledged $10 million to Texas and Florida, respectively, to help with local and state recovery efforts. UAE Embassy officials are coordinating with state and local leaders about specific relief and recovery efforts that the UAE gift will support. They are also in discussions about additional projects where UAE volunteers or assistance may be needed.

Embassy Soccer Program

Since 2010, the UAE Embassy has supported a nationwide community soccer field program that partners with local organizations, such as professional sports teams, public school systems or nonprofit youth organizations, to provide quality playing fields in underserved communities around the US. Currently, there are nine soccer fields with two in New York City and fields in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Atlantic City, Asbury Park, and Washington, DC.   .

Rebuilding after the Joplin Tornado

Since its founding, the UAE has provided significant aid to developing countries and has been a major contributor of emergency relief to regions affected by conflict and natural disaster.  In 2011, the UAE Embassy in Washington DC provided a monetary donation to the schools of Joplin, Missouri and sent a team of volunteers to help rebuild homes after the tornado. The UAE also provided a significant grant to support the construction of a new pediatric healthcare wing at St. John’s Mercy Hospital in Joplin, Missouri.

Hurricane Sandy Redevelopment

In keeping with the UAE's spirit of giving back to those in need, the UAE committed a $10 million grant to assist with the reconstruction and recovery efforts of communities that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. 

Hurricane Katrina Reconstruction

When Hurricane Katrina struck the shores of Louisiana and other US Gulf states, the UAE donated $100 million in direct foreign aid to US relief efforts. These funds supported “Katrina Aid Today,” a three-year interfaith initiative that has helped more than 100,000 families and individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The contribution also helped to build technology infrastructure in a number of New Orleans schools, assisting children at a disadvantage with the tools required to develop skills needed to rebuild and transform the region’s economy in the years to come.


The UAE understands that ensuring a clean environment is critical to sustainable economic growth and intergenerational equity. With a long-standing commitment to sustainability and conservation, ongoing efforts have been made to minimize the UAE’s impact on the overall global environment.

In 2005 the UAE became one of the first major oil-producing countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Convention on Climate Change.

In addition, the Government of Abu Dhabi created the Masdar Initiative, a $15 billion program supporting the development and commercialization of clean energy technologies, a world-class research institute and initiating projects like Masdar City, the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste green community.

Masdar has been at the forefront or research, investment, and efforts to promote sustainability and to lessen the impact of global climate change. 

Recognizing the UAE’s leading efforts to combat climate change, in 2009 Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, was selected as the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA is an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation. IRENA is a center of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.

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