Renowned Emirati philanthropist Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair called for a “new era in Arab giving”, as he accepted the Arabian Business Achievement Award in Dubai on Monday.
Al Ghurair is chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and has set out a target of reaching 15,000 youth over 10 years, valued at over $1 billion.
“It’s not just how much we give, it’s also what we give to and how we give,” he stressed, calling for a “new era in Arab giving”.
“The Arab world is generous,” he said. “But the real challenge is what we donate to and how we donate, so that our contribution can have more meaningful impact on our people and on our region.”
Al Ghurair said he firmly believes that Arab giving, “if properly prioritised”, can uplift the region from “poverty, conflict and ignorance”.
Calling for a new approach in four points, Al Ghurair said Arab philanthropy must first “institutionalise their giving”.
“Everyone should have a clear strategy for giving that is focused and demand-resulting,” he said.
“More Arab charity must be professionalised and specialised. We need to apply same standards to our charity organisations as we apply to our business.”
Al Ghurair, who is also CEO of Mashreq Bank, the chairman of the UAE Banking Federation and the Chairman of Al Ghurair Investment, said charity organisations must be legally registered, have a board, staff, corporate governance, strategy, and goals – and that they “really, really need to work on impact”.
“We have to have results,” he insisted.
The successful businessman also called on charity organisations to be “specialised” and “earn a reputation as experts in one field”.
“We can’t have every charity (doing) everything,” he explained. “They have to choose. The time has come that we really need to specialise.”
More importantly, Al Ghurair added that all Arab charities “must adapt transparency and accountability”.
“I believe that the more transparent and accountable we are, (it) will boost the confidence of the Arab donors and the governments to work closely with us.”
And finally, he said Arab philanthropy needs to be open about their giving and work together with other philanthropic organisations.
“I believe giving should be talked about and discussed publicly,” he said. “It will really encourage other donors to give and go public, and establish quality giving approaches and organisations.”
He added: “As an Emirati and a business leader I feel giving is both a privilege and a duty.”
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