Firoz Mer­chant Named Phi­lan­thropist Of The Year

Solitaire - - SPEC­TRUM -

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.

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