United Arab Emirates Volunteers Work With Habitat for Humanity To Build Homes In Tuscaloosa, Alabama

October 3, 2012

Alabama (October 3, 2012) – This week, a group of volunteers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) traveled to Tuscaloosa, AL to work alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers and build homes in the community devastated by a tornado in 2011.

Weeklong program assists community’s ongoing rebuilding effort following devastating tornado

Twelve UAE citizen volunteers traveled to Alabama as part of the Emirates Foundation’s Takatof and Sanid humanitarian programs.  While in Tuscaloosa they worked to rebuild home, visited local schools and met with members of the community, as well as community leaders.

On Tuesday, the volunteers met with Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox, who greeted the UAE volunteers and received an update on the project’s progress.  Mayor Maddox expressed his appreciation and thanked the volunteers for traveling so far to lend a hand in Tuscaloosa’s rebuilding efforts.

The volunteers represent the UAE’s strong history of providing emergency relief to regions affected by natural disasters.  At the time of the tornado, two of the diplomats at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC were graduates of the University of Alabama and felt a significant connection to the Tuscaloosa community.  Through their efforts, the UAE Embassy organized the collaborative effort with Habitat for Humanity and UAE’s Emirates Foundation to aid in the rebuilding process.


Commenting on UAE’s decision to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba  said,“The UAE is honored to lend its assistance in rebuilding this great American community.  Over the past year, we have witnessed the courage and determination of Tuscaloosa as they have worked to bring back their city, said EMBASSY OFFICAL.  “UAE and the US are close friends, so it is no surprise to see our volunteers lined up to come over and lend a hand.”

Maytha Al Habsi, Chief Program Officer at the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development said, “volunteering abroad is a great way to meet and work with other volunteers from around the world and learn about different cultures, lifestyles and exchanging thoughts and ideas.  This is not the first time for our volunteers to contribute to international project. They’ve served in several countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Thailand, Tanzania, Italy and China. Last month volunteers were in a humanitarian mission in Jordan to aid Syrian refugees.”

Earlier this year volunteers from the UAE flew to Joplin, MO to working alongside Habitat for Humanity to help the tornado damaged community build ten homes in 16 days.  The Embassy also provided laptops for every child at Joplin High School and a $5 million grant to support the construction of a Children’s Wing and neonatal care unit (NICU) at a new Joplin Mercy Hospital.

Additional Background:

The United Arab Emirates

The UAE is a source of stability, tolerance, innovation, and growth in the Arabian Gulf and around the globe. The United States and the UAE are reliable allies, with historical and present-day shared security and economic interests. In fact, the UAE is the largest export market for US goods in the Middle East and more US naval vessels visit UAE ports than any other port outside the United States.  The United States and the UAE also enjoy growing social and cultural ties, and many US institutions in education, healthcare and the arts have formed collaborative partnerships with UAE entities.

Since its founding, a main pillar of the UAE’s foreign policy has been focused on addressing global challenges through the use of foreign aid and humanitarian assistance. The UAE has also been a major contributor of emergency relief to regions affected by conflict and natural disasters, including deploying much-needed resources after the earthquakes in Haiti, Pakistan and Japan and to the United States following Hurricane Katrina.