Bill Clinton paid $5.6m by Dubai's GEMS to front charity arm

Payments as honorary chairman of the Varkey GEMS Foundation were revealed in tax returns released as part of Hilary Clinton’s presidential bid

Former US President Bill Clinton has been paid $5.625 million since 2011 by Dubai’s GEMS Education to lead the company’s charity arm, according to tax returns released in the US this month.

Clinton, who served as 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001, was appointed honorary chairman of the Varkey GEMS Foundation in December 2010.

The payments he received as part of his role were detailed in tax returns released recently by his wife, former First Lady and US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, as part of her candidacy for the presidential race in 2016.

The tax returns state that Clinton was paid $500,000 by GEMS Education in 2011, $1.25 million in 2012, $1.75 million in 2013 and $2.125 million in 2014, amounting to a total of $5.625 million to date. Figures for 2015 were not disclosed.

The documents also show Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 to deliver a speech at the World Travel and Tourism Council in Abu Dhabi on April 9, 2013. The tax returns revealed the Clinton couple collectively earned a total of more than $139 million between 2007 and 2014, mainly from speeches and book deals.

Announcing Clinton’s appointment in December 2010, the chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey said: “We are honoured and privileged to have President Clinton as our honorary chairman. The foundation’s aim is to impact the lives of 10 million underprivileged children globally and I know that with his support we have a good chance of reaching that objective. Up to 70 million school age children worldwide do not have access to education, that is a travesty and we intend to do something about that by using all the resources available to us.”

“By working with international organisations that promote better educational standards, we seek to use our best talent, insight, and intellectual property to make a vital difference to the knowledge, skills and abilities of school leaders and teachers, who make the essential difference in a child’s educational journey.”

Commenting on his appointment, Clinton added: “Access to education provides the means to lift children out of poverty and that an educated child affects not only the child itself, but his or her family and the wider community. The Varkey GEMS Foundation's commitment will bring this opportunity to millions more children around the world by improving the quality and access to education for those less fortunate. One of the things I have learned travelling the world is that intelligence is evenly distributed but opportunity is not.

“Our ability to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, like poverty, is only possible when the private sector works alongside, and in partnership with, intergovernmental agencies and NGO’s and the Varkey GEMS Foundation is an excellent example of that. Recently, the Foundation announced a partnership with UNESCO to train 10,000 school Principals in Ghana, Kenya and India.”

The Varkey GEMS Foundation works with a number of former politicians to promote its educational message, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, through his Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who is a member of the foundation’s Global Advisory Board.

GEMS Education declined to comment when contacted by Arabian Business.

In June, GEMS Education reported its revenue grow by 20 percent in the year through to March, helped by rising fees and pupil numbers.

The National newspaper reported that GEMS, which operates more than 50 schools across 19 countries in the Middle East, North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, earned $674.8 million in revenue in the year through March, up 20 percent on the previous year’s figure of $559.6 million.

GEMS said its revenue increase was down to improvement enrolment numbers, which rose by nearly 9 percent to 98,000, and improved annual revenue per pupil.

Dubai's Fajr Capital led a group, including Blackstone and Bahrain sovereign fund Mumtalakat, in acquiring a "significant minority stake" GEMS Education in October 2014.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Bahraini

As a person who was considering moving to the UAE in the past one of the main reasons against is was the cost of education compared to my country Bahrain. Looking over this and noting that the government of my country has purchased a stake in GEMS I for one can see no overriding logic for this move by GEMS. All that money wasted on a person who really doesn't need it whether for charity or otherwise. In my opinion the money could be better spent on upgrading facilities or giving sponsorship to less well off children! much better advertising.

Posted by: Fentoni

I think GEMs are definitely buying something with their $5.4M, exactly what they're purchasing..... I guess we'll never know.

Posted by: Kevin

I suggest to Mr. Varkey to throw more money at Trump this time? Maybe he will raise the 'Charity' profile a lot more?
As a parent whose 2 kids are in GEMS, I am so disappointed with how these schools are being run. They are a hungry business and they have little respect to education...but I have a choice and I pulled my kids this year out of the Gems and they are very happy. The expenses are extremely high in these schools with little return on pedagogy. Enough is enough!

Posted by: khalid

since when (majority) of private schools cared about other than PROFIT!
i went to a free public government school and many of my fellow students have achieved greatness in all fields.
we might not have had colourful classes or modern facilities. but we were provided with an moderate education and discipline.
now private schools have skiing trips to Europe and school camping nights!

Posted by: Telcoguy

Agreed, spending is not a good predictor for quality of education. Parental involvement is much more critical, and the social standing of teachers comes second.

Posted by: Michael

Stay far away from GEMS education. They are the reason why living in the UAE is so expensive (other than housing). When other schools see GEMS keep increasing their school fees, they do the same, so we all feel the pressure.

School groups around the world - come and provide affordable education for us the common man here.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Investing in the next generation: the value of Gulf education

Investing in the next generation: the value of Gulf education

Developers tired of traditional real estate assets are turning...

GCC's class act threatened by teacher shortages

GCC's class act threatened by teacher shortages

A global shortage of school teachers is particularly hurting...

Educating business minds

Educating business minds

University of Wollongong is one of a number of institutions helping...

Most Discussed