The Nama Waqf: Setting an Example of Sustainability in the UAE’s Charity Ecosystem
Nama Waqf de Fujairah Welfare Association
Despite owning multiple sources of income and endorsing many investments, the Fujairah Welfare Association (FWA) was in need of a stronger, steadier income to meet the escalating costs of its growing social and humanitarian projects. The cash flow generated from its two previously owned Waqf buildings and its considerable philanthropic donations had increased significantly starting from 2006; nevertheless, His Highness the Ruler of Fujairah, the Honorable Chairman of the FWA, donated a 1200-square-meter piece of land in Fujairah’s Business District dedicated to the building of the Nama Commercial and Residential Building (NCRB) in the first half of 2007. When the 23-story building was in a relatively advanced stage of construction, the FWA approached the IsDB for possible financing. After an APIF mission visited, appraised, then recommended the project for approval in 2009, the IsDB president approved $9 million to finance NCRB. Although the estimated cost for the project was $18 million, the actual cost overran the estimate by approximately $2.71 million. The building, which would become a primary source of funds to support of one of the greatest UAE-based humanitarian organizations internationally, was finalized in mid-2011.
The NCRB’s operations began in 2012 by renting its stores, apartments, and offices at prices about five percent below the market price. This has allowed the building to generate stable, reliable net revenue of approximately $1.8 million annually and maintain an occupancy rate of nearly 100 percent throughout the years because tenants were able to deliver their rents without significant delays, enhancing the FWA’s ability to comfortably expand its social and charitable programs while synchronously repaying its dues to the IsDB. Although the majority of its finance remained from charity and donations, the FWA has profited greatly from NCRB’s nourishing boost. This is because for income from donations/charity, despite increasing by 42 percent during the five years around the building of NCRB, most of these payments are zakat payments and orphan sponsorships that are treated as restricted funds spent only according to the donor’s instruction. However, income generated from investments—including NCRB, which is less restricted in its uses, has grown by 142 percent during the same period, increasing FWA’s net funding to $5.62 million from all sources by 2014.
On the macro-scale, the Waqf project has contributed mainly to the Family Development and Rehabilitation Program (FDRP), a principal FWA program that employs impoverished families’ labor and offers necessary raw materials to lead said families into financial independence. The program provides training in arts and crafts, cuisine, sewing and detailing, textiles, beauty, and perfumes in partnership with various Chambers of Commerce and Dubai’s Quality Group. Other aspects of the program include the Women’s Taxi Program, in which beneficiary women receive vehicles on a daily rental basis and use them specifically to transport women and the FWA’s agreement with the government licensing agency, which exempts certified FDRP ladies from home-based production licences. FWA also works in other social fields both locally and internationally, sponsoring orphans and disadvantaged families and providing scholarships for education locally and operating three orphanages in Bangladesh. FWA also works on seasonal support programs particularly during Ramadan and the two Eids; the final off-taker of relief FDRP products is in many cases a charitable organization, such as the Al Maktoum Foundation.
Aiming to achieve a sense of solidarity and goodwill amongst locals, the FWA has succeeded in mobilizing philanthropists and local businesses to support its cause through participating in all social programs organized by governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It has also appointed a Zakat Committee responsible for the allocation of zakat payments to zakat-deserving families. As for the development of poor areas, FWA has worked with the UAE Red Crescent Authority to provide assistance and implement developmental projects in districts that need them. In total, FWA has spent over $319 million in execution of its humanitarian projects and benefitted over 9 million victims of poverty, unemployment, and natural disasters both nationally and internationally, including over 50 thousand personal sponsorships and 6,000 vocational program graduates annually.
Although NCRB was at an advanced stage of construction when FWA approached IsDB for financing, APIF was nonetheless instrumental to the smooth completion of the project: IsDB/APIF financing ensured the timely completion of the project without disrupting the activities of FWA. Had FWA approached other sources for financial aid, its humanitarian activity expansion might have been hindered along with the completion of NCRB itself. Overall, the success of FWA’s experience with NCRB incentivized it to undertake two subsequent projects financed by APIF—a testament to the positive impact of APIF on the organization. After the Fujairah Port was expanded and a 3.8 thousand-kilometer oil-exporting pipeline connected the port to Habsan Oil Field in Abu Dhabi, the population of the city has almost quadrupled, increasing the city’s demand for real estate. FWA, utilizing APIF financing, has contributed to private sector development indirectly not only through the NCRB’s office, residential, and commercial spaces but also through its new 9-story building, Nama 2.
With its 12-member Board of Director management, which has long believed in accountability and transparency; sustainable assets; and reliable, stable tenants, FWA serves as a leading humanitarian organization whose steps are to be followed. It has received many local awards for its social and charitable work and the ISO 9001:2015 certificate in the field of good work, charitable donation, and community development. The collaboration of APIF with FWA has been a prolific, productive one not only for the Fund and the Association, but also for the millions of people who benefitted from the partnership.