The first-ever food bank just opened its doors in the United Arab Emirates this week.

Located in Dubai's Al Quoz neighborhood, the food bank began operations on Wednesday as part of the emirate's goal to achieve zero food waste. Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, launched the initiative at the beginning of January.

The UAE has announced that 2017 is the Year of Giving, and the new food bank is an integral part of that aim.

A culture of giving

"The UAE Food Bank represents one of the most humanitarian values in the UAE, and is well on its way to becoming one of the country’s largest humanitarian institutions, widely spreading the culture of giving within a sustainable institutional framework," Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum Al Maktoum, chairwoman of the UAE Food Bank Board of trustees, said, according to The National

Already 96 hotels, 240 food shops and seven charitable organizations have joined the movement and agreed to donate their excess food as well as assist with distribution. 

And the first food bank is only the beginning.

"We are planning to build about 30 places similar to this food bank across the UAE," Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality and deputy chairman and managing director of the UAE Food Bank, said.  

"We want to minimize the amount of food being wasted, and we want also to give support for the needy people throughout the UAE," he added.

Some food will be distributed internationally

While a major goal is to redistribute food within the UAE, the food bank will also be involved in providing international aid. 

"Everything in today's containers -which had dry and packaged food from four hypermarkets- will be donated to our brothers and sisters to Somalia," Lootah told reporters on Wednesday.

A representative from the Emirates Red Crescent also echoed these comments, saying that the food bank collaborates with farms and other companies to distribute "dry food like rice and wheat" to countries that need it.

The UAE is the most generous country in the world

When the initiative was announced in January, Sheikh Mohammed emphasized the generosity of his people. 

"Emiratis are the most generous and giving people. Through the UAE Food Bank, we are creating a sustainable institutional framework inspired by these values," he said, according to Arabian Business.

And the facts back up Sheikh Mohammed's words.  

In 2015 and 2016, the UAE was the most generous foreign aid donor. According to data compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UAE gives the largest percentage of its gross national income to official development assistance when compared to other countries in the world.