UAE businessman Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair has called on wealthy Arab families and businesses to donate more money to charity to help diversify the region’s economy.
“We have to institutionalise philanthropy so that it is not a one-time contribution and will become part of the way we support charities and our economy,” he said.
In the week after Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz said he would channel $32 billion of his fortune to charity, the Al Ghurair family announced plans to divert one-third of assets generated by its $6 billion group of businesses, in perpetuity, to a specially created education foundation.
The family said earlier on Tuesday it has gifted an initial AED4.3 billion ($1.1 billion) over ten years to establish the Abdullah Al Ghurair Education Foundation, named after Abdul Aziz’s father, who founded the family business.
The foundation will aim to cover the cost of university scholarships for academically “outstanding” but financially underprivileged students, from across the UAE first, and the entire region at a later stage.
Philanthropic giving is not a new concept in the Middle East, but in line with cultural etiquette it was not considered appropriate to talk about it – let alone publicise it.
Al Ghurair said on Tuesday: “Historically, people [donated to charity] with the utmost secrecy. There was a feeling that the left hand shouldn’t know what the right is doing.
“But now, with the economy being as it is, we have to institutionalise philanthropy.
“I hope that many others will start talking about what they are doing [in terms of charitable giving].”
In a statement, his father Abdullah Ahmad Al Ghurair said that the foundation – which will be one of the largest privately funded philanthropic initiatives devoted to education in the Arab world – hopes to inspire a stronger culture of private philanthropy in education specifically.
He said: “The leadership of the UAE has always prioritised the welfare of its people and been a champion for the wider Arab community.
“In recognition of their vision and as a continuation of their legacy, my family and I have accepted a greater responsibility to open the doors of opportunity to the next generation.
“The foundation will forge a path for greater collaboration between philanthropic organisations, the private sector and education institutions.”For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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