x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Website shines a light on those who toil for good

An expatriate here has set up a website to help educate Arabian youth about social causes.

DUBAI // Valencio Cardoso wants you to see the good things people do.

So last Friday, the young Canadian residing in Dubai launched a website. Called sociallyconsciousarabia.com, it informs people about various causes and encourage them to take a stand.

Many organisations, he noted, "work hard for their beliefs, but people don't see them out there".

The 29-year-old, who works as a digital artist and strategist, was moved to act when he would tell his friends about causes such as FreeRice, which raises and donates money from corporate sponsors to the UN World Food Programme.

His friends had never heard of it.

"I figured people are either consumers, contributors, or leaders," Mr Cardoso explained. "People go through all of those stages, and all they needed to do is learn about these causes. Once they are aware of these causes they become more socially conscious about these causes so people can contribute to them."

When he volunteered with the Suraya Foundation, which helps prevent road accidents, and Volunteer in Dubai, he realised such groups were having a huge effect.

"No one knows who's behind these causes," said Mr Cardoso, who has lived in the UAE for three and a half years.

He said he hoped his website would connect people with organisations and mentors across the region.

The site features initiatives ranging from entrepreneurship and education to social media, human rights and community.

"All initiatives the are using the internet to promote content are activities that I do appreciate," said Giorgio Ungania, the TedXDubai curator and executive director of Zayed University Media Initiative. "The online platform ... is extremely useful to showcase Dubai-related projects and activities to the world."

In the Middle East, he noted, "social entrepreneurship is a very young science, and many individuals are doing extremely interesting projects in the UAE."

Mr Cardoso, who in October launched a blog called Socially Conscious, said entrepreneurship will bring about change for the better.

"I feel like it's the social entrepreneurs who are going to change the way that things work over here," he said.

"If these entrepreneurs started to think about impacting the environment and society in general, things will change."

aalhaddad@thenational.ae