ABU DHABI // Queen Rania of Jordan says it is her duty as a human being and not a queen to help those less fortunate than her. "It is our responsibility, our burden, to help the poor, to educate children and to give more than what we have been given," she said yesterday while accepting an award in Abu Dhabi. "I am in the UAE today; it is a country to have grown in more ways than just its skyscrapers. The quality of life here has been raised and its people are charitable and hospitable."
Queen Rania was one of three people honoured by the UAE CSR group, which promotes the ethos of corporate social responsibility, which obligates companies to do good as well as make money. Also honoured for their contribution to humanitarian work were the late Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed, and the Saudi investor Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal. Sheikh Ahmed, who died in March in a glider crash in Morocco, was chairman of the board of trustees of the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation.
Prince Al Waleed has donated tens of millions of dollars to groups ranging from earthquake victims in Indonesia to Harvard University in America. Yesterday's ceremony opened the third annual Abu Dhabi CSR Conference. The one-day event is part of the Arab Giving Forum, which is on until Wednesday. Social responsibility has often been dismissed as the "soft" side of business, but it is essential, said Osama Sultan, the chief executive of Du, the telecoms provider.
He said that as companies were less able to set themselves apart with technology, their social and cultural activities became increasingly important. "Adding social value to the brand, contributing to the community and employee engagement are now more and more at the front of the scene," Mr Sultan said. "They are major enablers of the success of companies." Otaiba bin Saeed al Otaiba, the chairman of Al Otaiba Enterprises, a property company, said that even in a poor economic climate, companies should still try to be socially responsible.
"It boosts morale for all employees," he said. "Plus at the end of the day we always have a responsibility towards the community." Mr al Otaiba said he was dedicated to raising the quality of life for the 18,000 workers who live in his Mafraq labour camp. "They have plenty of space, housekeeping and entertainment," he said. "It is part of my social responsibility as a businessman to follow the highest standards."
His sister Moza Saeed al Otaiba, one of the members of the UAE CSR Group, said it was launching a CSR academy to help companies create ideas of how to contribute to the community and it will also be running corporate workshops for small groups to continue the message of yesterday's conference. @Email:email@example.com