Abullah bin Ahmad Al Ghurair, the 88-year-old patriarch is one of the richest men in the UAE with a net worth of Forbes estimates at $5.9 billion; and recently he has channeled focus to his education foundation, one of most extensive foundations globally.
In 2015, Al Ghurair devoted one-third of his holding company’s assets worth $1.1 billion to fostering scholarships and education programmes for university students in the Middle East. this is because he believes that education is the key to success of Arab youth and the foundation for their social and economic development.
His foundation confronts one of the fundamental difficulties facing the Arab world that is the access to quality education.UNICEF reckoned close to 22 million children in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are either drop-out or are at risk of being so, mainly due to conflict. In addition, having an affordable higher education and high rate of youth unemployment are other two identified issues.
Under the leadership of Maysa Jalbout, at present, the foundation has awarded a total of 787 scholarships to underprivileged students from 22 Arab countries; 17 percent of which live in conflict areas or are refugees. Jalbout hopes to benefit 15,000 students by 2025.
Seven students have already successfully graduated and one such scholarship went to Laith Mubaslat, a 23-year-old Jordanian pursuing a master degree in electrical engineering at McGill University in Canada. He aspires to work in energy or transportation and is currently interning with Airbus. All these would be impossible without the financial aid received through the foundation.
Sally Jeffery, who leads PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Middle East education consulting practice pointed out that the programme is unparalleled as it sends students mostly to regional universities, promoting intra-regional student mobility and giving a breakthrough to local institutions while attracting outstanding, quality students.
The foundation is the optimum of decades of philanthropy dedicated to education. In the 1960s, Al Ghurair established a small primary school in Masafi, a rural town in the northern UAE and the school still stands today. It is this small school in Masafi that inspired Al Ghurair to support students not just in the UAE but also in the region and beyond.
Source: Forbes Middle East