Arab foundations join forces

While the Arab region enjoys a rich philanthropic tradition, philanthropic activity remains scattered and social justice philanthropy lags further behind other forms of giving. A small group of Arab foundations is now coming together to explore how they might work together to overcome this.

Atallah Kuttab, Director-General of the Palestine-based Welfare Association, one of the participating foundations, notes that resources available for those active in the sector, particularly resources in Arabic, are limited at best. Regional dialogue is critically needed regarding how to guide both philanthropic traditions and more recent innovations to more effectively respond to the many challenges facing the region today.

The group, which met in May and again in October last year, is seeking to create an active learning community in the field of social justice philanthropy, and to find and support solutions to development challenges in the Arab world and the world at large. Group members hope to strengthen the private-for-public philanthropic sector within the Arab region through the exchange of information, knowledge and experience, and the promotion of effective, transparent and accountable governance and operational practices. Major areas of activity will therefore be networking and representation; strengthening philanthropic practices and promoting innovation in the sector; and public education and mobilization of support for social justice philanthropy.

The group hopes to officially launch its work as the Arab Foundations Forum within the coming year. Participating foundations will contribute to meeting and networking costs and additional funding for the preparatory phase has been provided by the Ford Foundation.

Representatives of six foundations attended the October meeting, all based in Lebanon, Jordan or Palestine.[1] Two of these, the Universal Education Foundation and the Arab Human Rights Fund, work across the whole Arab region. Additional participants at the next meeting, in February, will include the Egypt-based Badrawi Foundation.

1 Apart from the two regional foundations and the Welfare Association (also hosting the Forum Secretariat), these are: Makhzoumi Foundation, Qattan Foundation and Jordan River Foundation.

For more information
Contact Atallah Kuttab at

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