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Tue 13 Dec 2011 11:20 AM

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Gulf nations filling the wealth gap in charity fundraising

Oxfam sees oil-rich states playing bigger role in funding amid western debt woes

Gulf nations filling the wealth gap in charity fundraising
Barbara Stocking, the CEO of charity conglomerate Oxfam

Gulf countries are ramping up their global fundraising and political efforts, the CEO of charity conglomerate Oxfam said, as economic woes force Western nations to turn their focus inwards.

Renewable technologies being rolled out by the oil-rich GCC could also play an important role in cutting poorer nations’ reliance on fossil fuels in the future, Dame Barbara Stocking said. 

“The Gulf is now playing a bigger and bigger part in poverty and development in the world both in its aid programmes and the foundations and charities but also actually in some of the political issues,” she said.

“The Gulf sits in a very interesting geographic position where some of the key issues for us in Africa are very important to the Gulf and similarly [when] you are thinking about Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Sharjah-based charity Salam Ya Seghar (Peace for Kids) donated $1m to the humanitarian aid group last week as part of its campaign to improve children’s food security and education in Gaza.

Oxfam and Dubai Cares raised more than $1m at a charity auction held in Dubai as part of the emirate’s film festival last week. Auctioned lots included a yoga lesson with Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, which went for $14,000, and an opportunity to meet Scarlett Johansson at the world premiere of The Avengers, which raised $20,000.

The GCC countries, where summer temperatures soar, are spending billions of dollars on developing renewable energies such as solar as they look to free up oil for export at higher process and cut emissions, which are six times higher than the world average.

The technologies they develop could help poorer countries, said Stocking.

“Certainly countries like Qatar and others in the Gulf will have the resources to actually develop the technologies that are needed for food security to be developed in the driest countries.

“If places like Qatar and other Gulf states can do that, it has got to the benefit to the poorest countries who can’t afford to develop those technologies themselves,” she said.

Charities across the world were hit hard by the global economic downturn, which saw donations decline as private donations declined and governments looked to conserve funds.

Donations in the US topped $291bn last year, up 3.8 percent compared to the previous year, according to an annual report by the Centre on Philanthropy at Indian University. The increase follows two consecutive years of declines, said the report.

Oxfam has yet to see declined in donations amid fears of a second global slowdown but remains concerned about the global aid budget decline.

“We’re not affected dramatically at the moment in terms of people giving us money,” said Stocking. “Though we are very concerned to see aid budgets globally are decreasing 10-15 percent in the next two years and that is clearly because of the pull back on the economy.”

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