The CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education has a message for philanthropists in the Arab region: ‘Donating your money is nice, but it is simply not good enough.’
Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar – who has for over two years led the UAE-based Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, one of the largest privately-funded philanthropic education initiatives in the Arab region – said to the Dubai-based English-language newspaper Khaleej Times that she feels high-net-worth individuals should offer their time, business acumen, network, and ideas.
‘I think that we have to move into a philanthropy that is not a photo-op,’ Jaafar said.
Jaafar says that addressing critical issues is about creating a strategy, and already NGOs and philanthropies have shifted from an era of charity to an era of strategic and collective philanthropy.
The Al Ghurair Foundation aims to empower Emirati and Arab youth through education in over 17 countries. It also aims to impact 200,000 learners by 2025. However, what the region needs is not ‘education for education’s sake’, Jaafar said, but ‘education that can promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth so that the youth with relevant skills that will lead to employment, entrepreneurship, vocational skills… whatever it is that will allow them to live honourably.’
In its work, the Foundation has awarded 1,000 scholarships, with almost 40 per cent going to first-generation university scholars, 10 per cent to refugees, and half to women.