UAE’s Al Ghurair family pledges its wealth to charity…

Prominent UAE businessman Abdullah Ahmad Al Ghurair has pledged one-third of his company’s assets to establish a regional education foundation.

His son, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of the family’s Mashreq Bank, announced on Tuesday an initial $1.1 billion would be directed to the foundation over the next 10 years.

The foundation would aim to provide an initial 15,000 Emiratis with scholarships to the top universities. In the second phase, the program would be opened up to non-Emirati Arabs living in the UAE, and later to Arabs from all across the Middle East. No time-frame was given.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said a CEO and board of directors would hopefully be appointed this month, with the foundation to be launched in Q1 2016.

Four trustees from the Al Ghurair family – himself, Ali, Rashid and Sadam – already had been appointed as trustees, while Boston Consulting would decide which priority academic programs would be supported.

Al Ghurair said as long as the economy remained stable and the company continued to perform well, it should be able to maintain donating one-third of all of its assets generated in decades to come.

Abdullah Al Ghurair started Mashreq with $1.6 million worth of investment capital 40 years ago. The bank is now the largest private lender and oldest commercial bank in the UAE.

It is common for philanthropic announcements to be made during Ramadan, a time of giving.

Last week, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz said he would channel $32 billion of his fortune to his re-branded charity, Alwaleed Philanthropies. It would initially provide 10,000 homes and 10,000 cars to poor Saudis.