Donors in the six Gulf nations gave at least $727m to charity in 2012 in gifts of $1m or more, with nearly two-thirds of pledges given to non-profits based overseas, private bank Coutts said.
Some 28 pledges worth $1m or more were made in the 12-month period, with the largest single gifts favouring higher education projects in Qatar, food relief in Yemen and developmental aid in Asian countries.
“As Gulf economies mature, we’re seeing a corresponding move towards more strategic decisions about how philanthropic donations are invested,” said Barbara Ibrahim, founding director of the John D. Gerhart Centre for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement in Cairo, which collaborated on the report. “Major donations make a significant difference in quality health services and education.”
The largest slice of aid was reserved for foreign charities, with some 40 per cent of gifts given to disaster relief charities, particularly those supporting Syria.
A further 19 per cent of donations backed charities in the field of higher education.
“Gulf donors are internationally-minded, supporting causes far from home,” Ibrahim said.
The UAE led the region’s donations, pledging $232m or 32 per cent of the GCC’s total. About half of these were given to domestic charities to support housing and education, with the remaining 50 per cent given to overseas causes, including vaccination drives.
Kuwait was the second most generous GCC state, generating 29 per cent of the trade bloc’s donations. Three-quarters of gifts went to overseas charities tackling issues such as disaster relief and international security research.
Three pledges from the GCC broke the $100m barrier, including one gift worth $200m from a donor in Kuwait. Almost one-third of all $1m donations – 32 per cent – were worth more than $10m.
The findings are part of a wider global report on million dollar donors, which tracked charitable gifts in the Middle East, China, Hong Kong, Russia, the UK and the US.