Dubai: At least three ultra-rich residents in UAE have joined the ranks of billionaires who have committed to give up at least half of their fortunes for charitable causes.
Businessmen Shamsheer Vayalil, Badr Jafar and B.R. Shetty will be donating a huge chunk of their private wealth to the Giving Pledge, an initiative founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, the foundation confirmed.
They are among the 14 philanthropists who have recently joined the group, bringing the total to 183 from 22 countries since the pledge began in 2010.
The founder of VPS Healthcare, a network of hospitals, pharmacies and clinics, Vayalil is among the richest people on earth, whose net worth stood at $1.5 billion as of Sunday. He is the son-in-law of UAE-based retail tycoon M.A. Yusuff Ali, owner of LuLu hypermarkets.
In his letter to Gates, Vayalil highlighted his desire to do good things “for the greater good.” Vayalil started his healthcare business only about a decade ago, when he was just 30 years old and had just quit his job as a radiologist.
He wasn’t armed with a formal training in business or running a hospital, but what he had was passion to succeed and help patients. Since then, his business grew from just one hospital to a network of 125 medical centres, pharmacies and a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility with a workforce of 13,000 people in GCC, Europe and India.
“We have always believed that doing good is good business, too. In a small way, this is our way of giving thanks for the opportunities and successes we have found throughout our lives,” Vayalil wrote.
Dr B.R. Shetty, whose real-time net worth stood at $4.1 billion said he and his wife have been inspired by the foundation’s efforts of bridging the wealth distribution gap. “If really today 10 per cent of the world’s population can resolve 90 per cent of the world’s problems, then we all better get moving,” Shetty noted in his pledge letter.
“In my lifetime, I have come to realize that it is our moral responsibility to do what we can to better the lives of those we know and those we don’t know. After all, we all share this lovely planet,” he pointed out.
The Indian expatriate first arrived in the UAE in 1973 with just $8 in his pocket and started working as an outdoor salesman.
Now he owns Finablr, a financial services conglomerate that includes UAE Exchange, Travelex and Xpress Money. He is also the founder of NMC Healthcare.
“My mother always taught us not to forget our community and to always help at least 10 people around us. I have also learned from the benevolence of the rulers of the UAE, the importance of giving back in health, education and infrastructure for all. Now that we have been fortunate, it is our responsibility to multiply that 10 to as many people as possible, starting from our communities and moving to the rest of the world,” he said.
The third philanthropist to join the Giving Pledge is an Emirati businessman. Jafar is the CEO of Crescent Enterprises, president of Crescent Petroleum and managing director of Crescent Group, a family business group.
He is active in a number of industries, including ports and logistics, and plays an active role in private equity initiatives.
The young executive founded a non-profit venture, the Pearl Initiative in 2010, to promote transparency and accountability at corporations across the region.