The GCC’s wealthiest philanthropists prefer to send their donations to other countries rather than give to charities at home, the first Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report shows.
Philanthropists from the six GCC states gave away 28 donations worth at least $1m each, totalling $700m.
The UAE gave away the most $1m-plus gifts, with nine totalling more than $232m.
About half of those donations went to domestic charities to support housing and education.
Kuwaiti donors gave the second-highest number of gifts (eight), accounting for 29 percent of the total number of GCC gifts.
Two-thirds of the gifts from Kuwait went to overseas charities addressing a range of issues such as disaster relief and international security research.
About one-third of the donations were worth $10m or more each, while three gifts from the region were worth more than $100m, including a $200m Kuwaiti donation.
The report found two-thirds, or 20, of the GCC $1m-plus donations were given to charities outside of the GCC, mostly to non-GCC Arab countries.
About 40 percent were given to disaster relief charities overseas, particularly in Syria.
The largest donations went to higher education projects in Qatar, food relief in Yemen and general development projects in non-Arab Asian Countries.
Nearly 20 percent of the value of $1m-donations in the GCC went to higher education.
The data in the report was only based on publicised donations.
“Data collected for this report is likely to be just a small portion of the true picture of one million dollar giving, as much of the philanthropy in the Middle East goes unpublicised,” a statement from Coutts says.
The report also found philanthropy was increasingly being publicised in hope of inspiring more.
“Giving to charity is deeply rooted in the Arab culture and in its predominant religion Islam,” the report says.
“Much of the philanthropy undertaken in the region goes unpublicised, the concept being that once people talk about their good deeds they erase the altruism in their motives.
“This is however changing, with philanthropists in the region choosing to speak about their philanthropy and the causes or organisations they support in order to inspire others to consider giving.”