Thought Leadership

Celebrating 20 Years Of Rotary In UAE

The History of Rotary International 

The leading humanitarian organization in the world, Rotary International (RI), started with the vision of one man — Paul Harris. The Chicago attorney formed the Rotary Club of Chicago on February 23rd, 1905, hoping that professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships. 


At the 1917 convention, outgoing RI President Arch C. Klumph proposed to set up an endowment ‘For the purpose of doing good in the world.’ In 1928, it was renamed The Rotary Foundation, and it became a distinct entity within Rotary International. In 1929, the Foundation made its first gift of $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children. 


When Rotary founder Paul Harris died in 1947, contributions began pouring in to Rotary International, and the Paul Harris Memorial Fund was created to build the Foundation. Over time, Rotary’s reach and vision gradually extended to humanitarian service. Members have a long track record of addressing challenges in their communities worldwide.


Their commitment endures today through an organization that remains truly international. Only 16 years after being founded, Rotary had clubs across six continents with members now spanning the globe, working to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.


The organization has battled some of the world’s worst outbreaks and began its fight against polio in 1979 to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Today, polio remains endemic in only two countries — down from 125 in 1988, with Rotary leading the fight against this deadly disease amongst several others.


The organization is now a global network of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in communities, and amongst themselves.


Rotary Districts

Given the size of the Rotary, it is organized at various levels to give the organization a proper structure. At the core of Rotary is the club, which can have anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of Rotary members. Each club belongs to a District. 


The Rotary of Dubai  falls under District 2452, which is more than 84 years old. It is formed by multiple countries, has different cultures and uses various languages. It is present in 3 CONTINENTS and 9 COUNTRIES: Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Sudan, Bahrain, UAE, Georgia, Armenia and Palestine. Currently, Rotarian Ashot Karapetyan serves as the District Governor; he is also the first District Governor from Armenia, taking the reign of District 2452.


Establishing The First Rotary Club in UAE

In 2002, Richard D. King, RI President, announced that Dubai would be the new home of the first Rotary Club in the UAE. The Rotary Club in Dubai started with 25 members that quickly gained momentum to form one of the most prominent Rotary Clubs globally.


Since then, the Rotary Club has served hundreds of charities and humanitarian causes and has helped the lives of many in the region.  


On February 27th, 2022, the Rotary Club of Dubai celebrated the 20th anniversary of its founding. To commemorate this significant milestone. They hosted a gala and were joined by the global President of Rotary International, Shekhar Mehta and over 300 attendees, including Interactors, Rotaractors, Rotarians and Guests.


Projects Undertaken By The Rotary Club of Dubai

Out of the thousand projects undertaken by the Rotary Club of Dubai in 2021, here are a few that have significantly impacted the people and the community.


Rotary Majlis of Friendship

The Association of Rotary Clubs-UAE, of which the Rotary Club of Dubai is a part of signed the contract for the Rotary ‘Majlis of Friendship’ venue at EXPO2020 and were officially recognized as an international participant. 

Rotary and its members utilized the Majlis of Friendship events to massively promote Dubai and Expo 2020 to all its attending members. It was used as a platform to explore new friendships, develop projects and host their meetings and activities. 


It displayed a set-up showcasing Rotary projects, Rotary Fellowships, and Rotarian Action Groups. They also hosted Social events, including food and entertainment unique to the host city, presenting the local culture to an enormous audience of attendees. 


Thrift for Good

The Rotaract Club of Dubai (for members below the age of 30years, which is a part of the larger organization, Rotary Club) hosted a Thrift Drive Project.. Thrift for Good supports, which help children around the world through health, education and housing. This community service project donated clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, books, towels, and linens. They were able to contribute more than 120 KG of items- that bore  the cost for education of 4 children per year.


Children’s Literacy Drive

The Children’s Literacy Drive is a project that’s near and dear to the Rotaract Club of Jumeirah and part of their mission where they ‘ACT to IMPACT’ multiple lives through sustainable community service projects locally in the UAE and internationally. While also contributing to one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations for providing Quality Education. 


On March 3rd 2022, the club’s project donated Storybooks written in Arabic and English to the National Charity School of Sharjah.



On October 24th 2021, World End Polio Day, the Rotary Expo Team organized an End Polio Now walk at  Expo2020. 


More than 50 Rotarians, Rotaractors, and friends gathered at the venue  to support, contribute, and put on their ‘End Polio Now’ T-shirts before heading out for the walk. 


A special remark was the Al Wasl plaza being lit red and yellow (colors of the campaign) as support which helped gain awareness for the cause and provided a buzz around all EXPO while the group walked around!

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