There could not be a more pressing time to discuss the issue of generosity of the oil-rich nations, key figures at the Arab Giving Forum have said.
Conference aims at expanding charity
ABU DHABI // There could not be a more pressing time to discuss the issue of generosity of the oil-rich nations, key figures at the Arab Giving Forum said yesterday. More than 50 companies, aid organisations, ministries and dignitaries from the Arab world met yesterday at the Emirates Palace hotel for the second annual forum. Addressing the conference, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, said: "This is one of the urgent times where we can rise to the task before us and aid our brothers and sisters in Gaza who are suffering in the thousands. This is our opportunity to turn our words into action and provide all the necessary humanitarian aid." Adel Alshamry, organiser and founder of the Zayed Charity Initiative, said: "The point of this conference is to increase the relationship between the private and public sector in health, education and culture. We bring all the key players and we encourage companies and governments to work together." Organisations, ranging from newspapers to police departments, were awarded plaques for their generosity and several delegates praised the UAE for setting an example to other countries. "Giving is a pillar of our culture as Arab people that is not boastful or proud," Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed al Khalifa, Bahrain's minister of culture, said. The managing director of Al Noor Hospitals, Dr Kassem Alom agreed there was more generosity these days, but said even more could be done to encourage giving. "This initiative is a culture and we have to create this culture among our communities," he said. "The challenge for us is to look beyond our frontiers by providing doctors and medical aid to Africa, Asia and wherever we are needed." Jennifer King, the founder of the Future Centre for Special Needs, said there were many unsung heroes in the community. "I had to raise millions of dollars for projects such as teacher training, surgeries and cases on top of raising salaries for 75 staff," she said. "There are far more donations and attention to giving now. Companies are more socially aware. She added that there had been many changes in the UAE over the past 10 years that were partially due to the work of charities. "It was very rare to see a wheelchair or a disabled child on the street. It was something to be hidden. We went to great lengths to show that it shouldn't be hidden. That has changed dramatically and that is so rewarding," she said. "What I have seen over the past decade is that the generous Arabs are not the ones you hear about on television. They give millions and don't want the attention." firstname.lastname@example.org