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Tue 7 Jul 2015 12:05 PM

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UAE's Al Ghurair family pledges one-third of its wealth to charity

Mashreq Bank founder Abdullah Ahmad Al Ghurair to establish a regional education foundation, donating $1.1bn over the next 10 years

UAE's Al Ghurair family pledges one-third of its wealth to charity
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of the familys Mashreq Bank, who made the announcement at an event in Dubai.

Prominent UAE
businessman Abdullah Ahmad Al Ghurair has pledged one-third of his company's
assets in perpetuity to establish a regional education foundation.

His son, Abdul
Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of the family's Mashreq Bank, announced on Tuesday an
initial $1.1 billion would be directed to the foundation over the next 10

The Abdullah Al
Ghurair Education Foundation will aim to provide an initial 15,000 Emiratis
with scholarships to the top universities, Al Ghurair said. In a second phase,
the program would be opened up to non-Emirati Arabs living in the UAE, and
later to Arabs from all across the Middle East, with the foundation funding
scholarships to the best universities in the region. No timeframe for the implementation of the various phases was given.

Abdul Aziz Al
Ghurair said a CEO and board of directors would hopefully be appointed this
month, with the foundation officially launched in Q1 2016.

Four members of
the Al Ghurair family - himself, Ali, Rashid and Sadam – have been appointed as
trustees, and the foundation has enlisted the help of Boston Consulting Group
to decide which priority academic programs would be supported.

Al Ghurair said
as long as the economy remained stable and the family’s group of businesses
continued to perform well, it should be able to maintain its objective of
donating one-third of its assets over decades to come.

Abdullah Al
Ghurair started Mashreq with $1.6 million worth of investment capital 40 years
ago. The bank is now the largest private lender and oldest commercial bank in
the UAE.

He has long
been committed to improving education in the UAE, having established the
country’s first boarding school in Masafi in 1964. He founded a second school
in Bur Dubai in 1990 that accommodates 1,000 students and is still regarded as
one of the emirate’s best schools.

“Improving the
quality of education and equipping our youth with the skills to succeed in the
21st century is key to reducing unemployment – among the Arab world’s most
pressing challenge – and to building peace and prosperity in our region.

“And it is
through education that we will tackle inequality, enabling youth from
low-income families to fulfil their potential and help communities thrive.”

It is common
for philanthropic announcements to be made during Ramadan, a time of giving.

Last week,
Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz said he would channel $32 billion
of his fortune to his re-branded charity, Alwaleed Philanthropies. It would
initially provide 10,000 homes and 10,000 cars to poor Saudis.