UAE billionaires swell ranks of Giving Pledge

Philanthropists including Badr Jafar of Crescent Enterprises, and NMC Health founder Dr Shetty, pledge to donate half their wealth to charitable causes

A further 14 billionaires, including three UAE-based philanthropists, have pledged to give away at least half their fortunes to charity in a campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.

A total of 183 billionaires have joined the Giving Pledge over the past year, with Badr Jafar and Razan Al Mubarak, Dr BR Shetty and Dr CR Shetty, and Shamsheer and Shabeena Vayalil among the new signatories. The campaign announced the new pledges in a statement on Wednesday.

“Over the past eight years, we’ve been inspired by the dedicated philanthropists who have chosen to join the Giving Pledge, and this year’s group is no exception,” Buffett said in the statement. “They are passionate about using their wealth to help reduce inequities and improve the lives of everyone in the world.”

“It is a crime when you are able to help others and choose not to”Many of the philanthropists are already actively engaged in a range of causes, including education, poverty alleviation, medical and healthcare research, economic development, entrepreneurship, and advocacy and governance.

Dr Shetty is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of NMC Health, which operates in 13 countries and is part of the FTSE100 index. He also founded the pharmaceutical firm Neopharma and BR Life, a company which focuses on healthcare solutions for people living below the poverty line.

“It is a crime when you are able to help others and choose not to,” he said in his Giving Pledge letter. “If today 10 per cent of the world’s population can resolve 90 per cent of the world’s problems then we’d all better get moving.”

Dr Vayalil is the founder of VPS Healthcare, which operates in four countries, and vice-chairman of the investment company Amanat Holdings.

“For us, success means having created something that can make a positive and sustainable difference in the lives of people,” he and wife Shabeena said in their pledge letter.

“We have always believed that doing good is good business too. This is our way of giving thanks for the opportunities and successes we have found throughout our lives.”

Badr Jafar is the CEO of the UAE-based Crescent Enterprises and president of Crescent Petroleum. He is also the founder of the Pearl Initiative, a nonprofit organisation that promotes corporate transparency and accountability within the GCC.

“My philanthropic activities are built around [promoting] a culture of strategic, high-impact philanthropy as an imperative for private resources to serve public good,” he noted in his letter.

The Giving Pledge was founded in 2010 with 40 American philanthropists. Since then, it has grown rapidly, to include signatories from 22 countries.

They bring to philanthropy their expertise from fields such as finance, healthcare, technology, property development and venture capital.

The pledge does not accept money or tell people how to donate their wealth, but asks billionaires to make a commitment to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes during their lifetimes or in wills.

Previous signatories include Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the UAE-based entrepreneurs PNC Menon and Sunny Varkey, Indian tech tycoon Azim Premji and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.