Chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and Philanthropy calls on givers to set measurable strategic objective

In a candid conversation with Badr Jafar, Founding Patron of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, renowned Emirati philanthropist and Chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) and Chairman of the Dubai Chambers of Commerce, outlined his family legacy from charitable giving to strategic philanthropy in the Arab region.

“We should operate philanthropy much like we run our businesses. We should set strategic, measurable objectives to maximise the impact of our philanthropic efforts on local communities, be it in education, health or the environment,” Al Ghurair emphasised.

“You don’t have to wait until you get old to be active in philanthropy. Future generations of philanthropists have the power to change the way benevolence is practised,” he added.

During the conversation, Badr Jafar highlighted: “Currently, over a trillion dollars of private philanthropic capital is deployed every year – this is equivalent to more than triple the yearly global development and humanitarian aid budgets combined. It is becoming increasingly evident that the world’s emerging economies are a growing source of philanthropic capital and social innovation. Now, more than ever, it is important to properly understand the diverse approaches to philanthropy that exist in these markets and examine the underlying factors that have impacted and shaped them.”

With an influential family background in philanthropy in the Middle East, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair underscored his belief in the universal need for collaboration between the private sector and the government to increase the impact of philanthropy, and in doing so, encourage others to become involved. There is also a crucial need, he added, for philanthropists and business leaders to connect, engage and partner to achieve their objectives.

Early this year, AGFE partnered with the UAE Ministry of Education and nine leading universities in the UAE to launch the University Consortium for Quality Online Learning to provide higher education institutions with the capacity to roll out quality, accredited online degree programs.

“When we saw Coronavirus spreading and countries going into lockdown, we realised that education was one of the most impacted sectors,” explained Al Ghurair. “COVID-19 forced our region – governments, institutions, students and parents – to acknowledge the ability of online learning to deliver quality education,” he added.

AFGE has committed Dh4.2 billion to fund education and upskilling programs for Emiratis and vulnerable Arab youth, impacting more than 32,000 learners to date in the region. The laudable target of the foundation is 200,000 learners.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair has also launched The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund on World Refugee Day in 2018, with a pledge of Dh120 million to provide refugees and vulnerable youth in Jordan and Lebanon as well as conflict-affected youth in the UAE with access to secondary, vocational, and tertiary education. The Fund has impacted more than 27,000 young people to date, exceeding the original target by over 35 per cent.

The conversation between Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair and Badr Jafar is part of The Business of Philanthropy series of discussions hosted by the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the University of Cambridge, to explore the changing nature of charitable giving across the world’s growth markets and to find new ways in which the sector can maximise its impact.