Dubai, August 21: On the first day of Eid Al Fitr, the emirate of Dubai, known for its humanitarian initiatives, became part of one of the largest humanitarian campaigns in the world that reached out to over one billion people through social media.
Celebrated on August 19, the United Nation’s (UN) initiative World Humanitarian Day (WHD) honours humanitarian workers who risk their lives to help people who suffer due to calamities, conflicts and hunger. Initiated in 2008, the WHD public outreach campaign also urges everyone to help others in their daily lives in whatever way they can, big or small.
Thousands of people, who were celebrating the festival of giving at the foot of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in Downtown Dubai, witnessed the screening of a WHD special video at the Burj Steps on Sunday evening.
The music video by Beyoncé, titled “I Was Here”, was part of the WHD celebrations that aimed at reaching out to one billion people, on one day, with one message.
The video was recorded during the live performance of Beyoncé held at the UN General Assembly in New York on August 10 to inspire people to leave their mark on the world and say “I Was Here”. The message “I Was Here” was chosen to show how people care for others and can leave their footprint on the humanitarian world.
The message was to spread positivity among the mankind by doing something good to someone, somewhere. A special screening of the Beyonce’s video, along with visuals showing humanitarian efforts across the world, was held on public screens in Geneva, New York and Dubai on Sunday as the message was sent out to over a billion online “connections” of people and organisations who supported the cause.
On Monday, the UN said the social reach of the message stood at 1,132,204,110 people after the successful completion of the event.
“We have already achieved our target of reaching out to one billion people. One of the success factors was celebrating the WHD here in the Burj Steps,” said Khaled Khalifa, head of the UN’s Gulf Office for Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“You see tens of thousands of people moving everywhere and you need to elbow your way to reach the screen,” he told Khaleej Times on Sunday.
“Even if we haven’t reached as many people in the Arab world through social media, we have done it physically here in Dubai today. People who came here to the mall and the fountain saw the film. I’m sure many will go back and will visit the WHD website and try to know more about it. l hope that we can reach a wider audience in the Arab world next year.”
He explained that the WHD message was sent across to over a billion people by using the online connections of people and organisations, who supported the cause on the WHD website — http://www.whd-iwashere.org/ — using a special technology.
“We wouldn’t have reached this goal without the support of the celebrities around the world, and without the support of people on the social media as everybody counts and every voice counts. And what matters is that… we wanted to send a message that cannot be ignored and we have already achieved that.”
The Dubai event was held under the patronage of UN Messenger of Peace and Chairperson of the International Humanitarian City (IHC) Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai.
The CEO of the IHC, Shaima Al Zarooni, thanked the patron and partners of the Dubai event. “We are happy that Dubai, which has a big role in the humanitarian sector, was an ideal location for conducting this awareness campaign and it happened on the day of Eid when we actually give the needy,” she said.