Saudi Arabia’s answer to 21st century philanthropy

Shaima Hamidaddin

If there are to be solutions to the problems we face, the Misk Foundation believes they will come from working in collaboration and empowering young people

Generosity has been a trait exhibited among the poor and expected of the wealthy since the foundations of the Arab society Peninsula. It was made even more integral to our identity by the revelation of Islam more than 1,400 years ago and the institution of the practice of zakat. One of the five main pillars of Islam, zakat mandated Muslims to contribute a portion of their wealth to those in need. Furthermore, Islam encourages giving (sadaqa) and sharing whether in the form of wealth, actions or words. Drawing from that mandate and our heritage’s emphasis on giving, Saudi Arabia strives to be at the forefront of generous givers regionally and internationally.

We work closely with forward-thinking partners to empower young leaders to create impact on a global scale. Unlocking their potential will be like igniting the torch which will light the way to our future.

Living up to that spirit of generosity, the Misk Foundation was established by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

At Misk, we have recognized two things. First, that the challenges people face are not simple, nor are they limited to a specific country. Most of them require multi-dimensional solutions that span many topics and geographies. Second, we realize that young people are the key. We are a foundation that puts youth at the heart of its existence. We work closely with forward-thinking partners to empower young leaders to create impact on a global scale. Unlocking their potential will be like igniting the torch which will light the way to our future. As such, since our inception, we have focused on a youth-centric approach that is as global as it is local, utilizing a multi-disciplinary and impact-focused strategy.

Even with all our efforts, we understand that to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, we need to collaborate with global like-minded organizations that share our belief in youth empowerment.

With the importance of young people in mind and by encouraging innovation and ensuring sustainability to develop young people, we instituted the Misk Initiative Center (MIC). MIC acts both as Misk’s operational arm and the hub of its initiative management. It has three core-focus areas: fellowship and traineeship, innovation and global forum. The fellowship and traineeship unit focuses on enriching local youth by sponsoring their education at world class education institutions and ensuring that they apply their learning at top companies in their fields globally. The innovation unit nurtures and develops digital innovators, digital solutions and digital entrepreneurs, focusing on cloud computing, big data, internet of things, artificial intelligence, cyber security and computer programing. Finally, Misk Global Forum (MGF) is the foundation’s global arm; it aims to develop entrepreneurs, activate global citizenship, equip young people with skills for their future, and create employment opportunities for them through research and initiatives.

However, even with all our efforts, we understand that to tackle the challenges of the 21st century, we need to collaborate with global like-minded organizations that share our belief in youth empowerment. Luckily, we are not alone, we have partnered with such institutions as Harvard University, IBM, GE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We have also conducted research on a global scale, such as the Global Youth Index and Global Future Skills Report. We hope these and other iniatitves will foster critical dialogue and create partnerships of lasting impact.

Our hope, in the end, is that Misk’s philanthropic efforts will live through our young people who take the knowledge they receive, apply it and share it. In this way, our platforms will enable youth to lead the way in an interconnected, sustainable future.

Shaima Hamidaddin is executive manager of the Misk Global Forum.
Email shaima@misk.org.sa
Twitter @SHamidaddin


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