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Corporates 'give back'

If one thing has been proven during the Dubai Cares charity campaign, it is that there is no shortage of donors and philanthropists in the city - the pledges have touched four times the targeted Dh200 million.

Weekend Review

If one thing has been proven during the Dubai Cares charity campaign, it is that there is no shortage of donors and philanthropists in the city — the pledges have touched four times the targeted Dh200 million.

In the days after the launch of the charity campaign, businessmen repeatedly shocked residents by topping each other's pledges. With so many donors here, it is unclear who would be crowned with the title of the UAE philanthropist by the end of the campaign. With pledges going up to the Dh100 million mark at one time, it remains to be seen whether there is room for any more surprises. The campaign still has one week to go.

Some philanthropists, however, need no introduction. During his Dubai Cares inaugural speech, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, singled out Dubai businessman Juma Al Majid as an "outstanding role model".

Al Majid, known for his charitable and cultural activities as well as his businesses, has been highlighting the significance of charity and education for decades.

"His support for education has resulted in Juma being considered an outstanding figure and a celebrated patron across the Arab and Islamic Worlds," said Shaikh Mohammad.

Campaigners and business leaders have, therefore, called on big businesses and small, as well as the public, to step forward and donate.

Public donations

Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority, who has tasked himself with pushing the business community to contribute, has perhaps had the most fruitful campaign. Although campaigners and business leaders have been quick to point out the relevance of public donations, a large portion of the amount pledged has come from businesses, including those owned by Emiratis and expatriates.

Among expatriates, Rajen Kilachand, president and chairman of Dodsal Group, donated Dh7 million, Ashok Sawlani, vice-chairman of Textile Merchants Group, donated Dh1 million and Dr Derek Bokhta, general manager of ET Kerney Limited, and Micky Jagtiani, chief executive of Landmark Group, donated Dh5 million each.

As for Emiratis, numerous donations came from the likes of Sultan Bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World; Hussain Sajwani, chairman of Damac, and Mohammad Juma Al Naboudah, among others.

Since the economic boom brought with it the rising cost of living, Dubai residents have been blaming big businesses for maximising profits to the last dirham. The Dubai Cares campaign has been an appropriate opportunity for businessmen to prove otherwise.

When Global Education Management Systems (GEMS), which owns a large share of the UAE's private education industry, announced an intended tuition fee hike of up to 70 per cent in some of its 22 schools late last year, it faced a barrage of complaints from furious parents and the public.

After the launch of Dubai Cares, its CEO, Sunny Varkey, made it clear that "giving back" was a part of his companies' corporate social responsibility, and he gave back by declaring a mammoth donation of Dh100 million to the campaign over ten years.

It is no surprise that the response to the campaign has been so benevolent, said Varkey. The campaign, he added, "reaffirms education as the only long-term, sustainable solution to poverty".

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