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United Arab Emirates Donates $2.8 Million To Jacksonville’s Irma Recovery

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Quan McWil
/
WJCT News
UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba (center) poses with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry along with students and staff from A. Philip Randolph High School and preschoolers from Duval County's Head Start program.

The United Arab Emirates is lending a hand in Jacksonville’s ongoing Hurricane Irma recovery effort with a nearly $2.8 million donation.

Preschoolers in Duval County’s Head Start program sang a nursery rhyme during a celebration Monday of the relationship between the city of Jacksonville and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Teachers, school officials and city leaders were at A. Philip Randolph High School to usher in the UAE’s $2.775 million donation.

The school will get some of the funding to support transportation and new computer labs. Principal Cathy Barnes said the gift will enable her students to give back to the community.

“This international partnership has opened our students’ eyes to the impact of what Kindness Warriors is all about. We thank you from the bottom our heart for this investment in our students and the community.”

Warriors like UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, who filmed the children’s performance on his phone. He said his country’s relationship with Jacksonville is built on business dealings.

“This community shows an incredible resilience in the storm aftermath. Your leadership to implement a long-term recovery for the city demonstrates what this partnership can actually accomplish.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the grant will also help with restoring facilities and rehabilitating low-income or homeless residents.

William M. Raines and Jean RiBault high schools will also be getting funding for computer labs.

Jacksonville's Ken Knight Drive neighborhood - one of the city's hardest hit areas - will receive about $650,000 for home repairs and restoration. Aid is also going to help restore the neighborhood's Charles Reese Park.

Other Jacksonville nonprofit organizations receiving help include the I.M. Sulzbacher Center andHabitat for Humanity of Jacksonville. 

The gift to Jacksonville is part of $10 million in aid the UAE is giving to several Florida communities affected by hurricanes. The ambassador said the UAE is also looking at ways to help the victims of hurricanes Florence and Michael.

The UAE has a history of helping U.S. communities recover from natural disasters. UAE donations have also been made in previous years to help New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina, New Jersey recover from Hurricane Sandy and Texas recover from Hurricane Harvey.