Firoz Merchant Named Philanthropist Of The Year
In recognition of his tireless work to help incarcerated prisoners in the UAE, founder & chairman of Pure Gold Jewellers, Firoz Merchant was conferred the Philanthropist of the Year award at the Indian CEO Awards held at Conrad Hotel, Dubai. Over 300 of the region’s most successful CEOs gathered together as the winners were announced. The evening was hosted by BBC broadcaster and former Economist editor Andrew Neil. This year’s guest of honour was T.P. Seetharam, Ambassador of India to the UAE.
Edward Attwood, group editor, ITP Executive Publishing, said, “Our winner, Merchant, who truly deserves one of the biggest accolades of the evening, may be one of the prominent and wealthiest of the Indian community’s many jewellery retailers in the Gulf, but over the past few years he has been making headlines for very different reasons. ‘My philosophy is simple,’ he told us last year. ‘When I Firoz Merchant (left) receiving his award from ITP chairman and BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil. came from my country to the host country, I didn’t just come for the money. How can I pay back to the country? Saying thanks is not enough. How good a human being are you? You have to prove it.’ And prove it he certainly has.”
He was referring to the unique programme of “Forgotten Society” initiated by Merchant in 2011 to help prisoners in the UAE who have been jailed because of their inability to pay back debts after falling prey to unfortunate circumstances. Under this initiative Pure Gold Jewellers has till date settled the debts or paid for air tickets of over 5,500 prisoners. The company has spent $3 million for the programme.
Merchant noted, “It is a great honour to be acknowledged by the Indian CEO Awards, which recognises the contribution of the Indian community to various sectors in the region. This country has given me great opportunities and success and I consider it my duty to Almighty Allah, the visionary leaders of this country, and the society to give back to the community for all the blessings and support I have received. Prisoners are often the most forgotten people of the society, they suffer under the stigma of being imprisoned and isolated from their family and friends. Everyone deserves a second chance and I decided to focus on this section of the society, especially those who are imprisoned because of the lack of ability to pay back their debts. I hope awards like these will shine the spotlight on their suffering and encourage more people to come forward to help them,” says Merchant.
Firoz Merchant is ranked 36th in the list of top 50 Richest Indians in GCC by Arabian Business in 2016.