In a moving tribute at the Arabian Business Achievement Awards, His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair invited a group of four young Arab students on stage with him to receive his award, calling them his “inspiration” for giving not just his money but also his time to philanthropic activities.
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.
The renowned philanthropist, who is also the CEO of Mashreq Bank, the chairman of the UAE Banking Federation and the Chairman of Al Ghurair Investment, told the audience: “I believe that philanthropy is not just about giving your money, it’s also about giving your time.”
Through the foundation's programme to provide scholarship to bright young Arab students, Al Ghurair shared how he met a young Syrian by the name of Mohammed Said, as well as others like him that came from refugee backgrounds.
“They came here [to the UAE] by accident, and some of them had to work hard, [they] left high school and took jobs to support their families,” he said.
But Mohammed applied for a scholarship through the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and was selected from amongst nearly 50,000 applications online.
“Today, he’s studying comp science in American University of Shariah and is a 4.0 (grade point average),” Al Ghurair said proudly.
“So it’s people like him who really inspired me.”
The foundation also launched a $27 million education fund this year to finance the education of thousands of refugee children in the Middle East.
The generous Emirati businessman said meeting the young students and spending time with them made him realise that while Mohammed got the scholarship, there were others like him in the refugee camps that were still missing out.
“I got inspired because I got involved,” he added. “Because I gave my time, I came across and the idea came that we have to look at the camps.”
He added: “That’s why I have accepted this award and I hope by being public and talking about it will encourage other people to come forward and also talk about their programmes, and encourage the community to participate more and more in uplifting our society.”
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.