Go public with your giving, urges Dubai ruler

Sheikh Mohammed launches $1.3bn endowment fund and global consultancy centre in effort to boost social giving in Arab world  

A global consultancy launched by the ruler of Dubai is set to offer free advice to philanthropists in an effort to persuade more local donors to go public with their pledges.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Global Centre for Endowment Consultancy (MBRGCEC), launched on Tuesday, will specialise in awqaf – assets held in trust for charity – and endowments, and seeks to bolster big-ticket giving to tackle social issues in the Arab world.

“We opened the doors to become the most supportive nation for endowment for the service of humanity,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai. “Many businessmen provide charity in secret. We want them to announce their endowments and lead by example.”

Held under the umbrella of Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives (MRGI), a foundation set up last year, the consultancy will offer its free services to individuals, as well as local, regional and international institutions.

Its remit is to shape Dubai into a catalytic regional hub for endowments that address issues in the wider Arab world, while also building the emirate’s store of philanthropic research and expertise.

The event also saw the launch of the Dubai Awqaf and Endowments District, described as the first social real estate project. The district will be built on a property endowed by Sheikh Mohammed and be managed by the MBRGCEC.

Sheikh Mohammed also made a $1.36bn worth of endowment of his own, spread across an innovation endowment valued at $272m and a knowledge endowment valued at $952m, while a further $136m was set aside for other charitable purposes.

The MBRGCEC is the latest in a series of initiatives that are coalescing under the auspices of the MRGI. The foundation was set up to tackle poverty and illness, build communities and drive innovation in
more than 116 countries around the world.

Its aim is to reach 130 million people over the coming years, through a 1,300-strong web of programmes. With an annual budget of AED1bn ($272m), it clusters the work of existing Dubai-backed agencies – such as the blindness prevention charity, Noor Dubai, UAE Water Aid, and Dubai Cares, which focuses on delivering education to primary- school children in low-income countries – under one banner.

By 2025, the foundation hopes to have educated 20 million children, and to have prevented or treated blindness and eye disease in 30 million people. It will invest $409m in education and science drives, including distributing more than 10 million books, and translating 25,000 foreign- language titles into Arabic, to promote literacy among the region’s youth.

Photo credit: Dubai Cares