A NO­BLE UN­DER­TAK­ING

Ab­dul Aziz Al Ghu­rair, founder of the Ab­dul Aziz Al Ghu­rair Refugee Ed­u­ca­tion Fund

Arabian Business English - - SPECIAL -

AS-SALAAM-O-ALAYKUM. Your High­ness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, ex­cel­len­cies, thank you for this recog­ni­tion. I am truly hum­bled. This is a par­tic­u­larly mean­ing­ful award to me.

For Emi­ratis and busi­ness lead­ers, giv­ing is both a priv­i­lege and a duty. For me per­son­ally, it is also about learn­ing and shar­ing the most mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ences of my jour­ney. My phil­an­thropic jour­ney over the last few years has led me to a new con­vic­tion: I be­lieve it is time for a new era in Arab giv­ing.

The Arab world is very gen­er­ous. The real chal­lenge is not in the size of our dona­tions but in what we do­nate to and how we do it so that our con­tri­bu­tions can have a more mean­ing­ful im­pact on our com­mu­ni­ties.

At this time, Arab giv­ing is not at its best. While we have much to be proud of, we must re­mem­ber that Arab phi­lan­thropists be­fore us paved the way for re­mark­able im­pact. Our his­tory is full of great ex­am­ples of giv­ing but we have not pro­gressed as much as we should have.

Ladies and gen­tle­men, in the re­cent past, we only trusted giv­ing that went from our hands to the hands of those who needed help. This type of giv­ing is still pre­ferred among many per­sonal donors. If we are hon­est, we know that this is nei­ther ef­fec­tive nor ef­fi­cient.

To­day, too many large dona­tions con­tinue to go to build­ings – ev­ery­thing from schools, uni­ver­si­ties to mosques – without hav­ing the in­tended im­pact on peo­ple’s lives be­cause of lack of con­tin­u­ous fi­nan­cial sup­port and en­gage­ment of the donors. In the new era of Arab giv­ing, I hope we will pri­ori­tise lift­ing peo­ple up from poverty, con­flict and ig­no­rance.

I also want to em­pha­sise that it is not just what you give to, it is how you give. I am call­ing for a new era of Arab giv­ing built on five ap­proaches:

First: more Arab phi­lan­thropists must in­sti­tu­tion­alise their giv­ing. While I do not think ev­ery phi­lan­thropist has to cre­ate his or her own foun­da­tion, I be­lieve all should de­velop a strat­egy that is fo­cused, has clear re­sults and ac­count­abil­ity struc­tures.

At the mo­ment, we do not have many in­sti­tu­tion­alised foun­da­tions in the Arab world and that makes it dif­fi­cult for us to build a donor com­mu­nity that can ex­change ideas and work to­gether. Hav­ing more foun­da­tions will make it eas­ier for us to de­velop home-grown so­lu­tions.

Sec­ond: more Arab char­i­ties must pro­fes­sion­alise and spe­cialise. Too of­ten, donors do not see the im­pact of their dona­tions be­cause they do­nate to in­for­mal or­gan­i­sa­tions. This must end. We need to ap­ply the same stan­dards to the char­i­ta­ble sec­tor as we do to the busi­ness sec­tor. Char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions must be legally reg­is­tered, have a board, staff, cor­po­rate gov­er­nance, strat­egy, goals and work for im­pact.

But even that is not enough. Char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions also need to spe­cialise and earn their rep­u­ta­tion as ex­perts in one field whether it is health, ed­u­ca­tion or re­lief. No one or­gan­i­sa­tion should be ex­pected to work in all sec­tors and do a good job.

Third: all Arab donors and char­i­ties must adopt trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity. All donors should be able to track their do­na­tion very sim­ply and clearly. I be­lieve that a more trans­par­ent and

“The real chal­lenge is not in the size of our dona­tions but in what we do­nate to and how we do it so that our con­tri­bu­tions can have a more mean­ing­ful im­pact on our com­mu­ni­ties”

ac­count­able char­i­ta­ble sec­tor will boost the con­fi­dence of Arab donors and en­cour­age govern­ments to work more closely with them.

Fourth: more Arab phi­lan­thropists need to be open about their giv­ing and work to­gether with other phi­lan­thropists. I be­lieve giv­ing should be talked about and dis­cussed pub­licly as it will en­cour­age other donors to give and go pub­lic to es­tab­lish qual­ity giv­ing ap­proaches and or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Fifth: Arab phi­lan­thropists should be per­son­ally en­gaged in their giv­ing. I be­lieve that phi­lan­thropy is not only about giv­ing your money; it is also about giv­ing your time.

My deep en­gage­ment in phi­lan­thropy over the last three years, has opened my eyes to the mag­ni­tude of the refugee prob­lem in our re­gion and in par­tic­u­lar the crit­i­cal need for sup­port to refugee ed­u­ca­tion. Meet­ing many bright young refugees from Syria and other Arab coun­tries on schol­ar­ship with my fa­ther’s foun­da­tion – the Ab­dulla Al Ghu­rair Foun­da­tion for Ed­u­ca­tion – mo­ti­vated me to cre­ate own phil­an­thropic ini­tia­tive ded­i­cated to refugee ed­u­ca­tion.

The Ab­dul Aziz Al Ghu­rair Refugee Ed­u­ca­tion Fund will help 20,000 refugee youth ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion over the next three years in con­tin­u­ing their sec­ondary, vo­ca­tional and higher ed­u­ca­tion. Through part­ner­ships with key or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing UNHCR, Unicef and the UAE Red Cres­cent, the Fund is al­ready help­ing 6,500 youth in Jor­dan, Le­banon and the UAE.

Once again, I thank Ara­bian Busi­ness and ITP Me­dia Group for recog­nis­ing my ef­forts through this award. I ac­cept this award humbly and with the hope that it will en­cour­age many oth­ers in our re­gion to work to­gether more ef­fec­tively to uplift the peo­ple who most need our help.

“I ac­cept this award humbly and with the hope that it will en­cour­age many oth­ers in our re­gion to work to­gether more ef­fec­tively to uplift the peo­ple who most need our help”

Ab­dul Aziz Al Ghu­rair set up the fund in or­der to help thou­sands of refugees get qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion

Ab­dul Aziz Al Ghu­rair ac­cepts his award from Ali Akawi, CEO of ITP Me­dia Group

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