Emirati businessman Al Ghurair urges others to join him in helping Syrian refugees

Philanthropist was is in Amman for launch of $10m aid programme

Islamic Development Bank Chairman Muhammad Al Jasser (left) and Emirati businessman Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair tour a refugee educational help centre in Amman. Khaled Yacoub Oweis / The National
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Emirati businessman Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair on Saturday urged other wealthy people to join him in helping Syrians displaced by war, as he and the Islamic Development Bank announced $10 million in new aid focused on refugee education.

In Jordan's capital Amman, Mr Al Ghurair said that he had been trying to draw attention to the impact of his charitable work to encourage others.

"There are lots of go-doers in the Middle East but they do not believe in talking about it," Mr Al Ghurair said.

"Charitable work should be known and a big part of it is to encourage businessmen to enter this [field] and have an effect on the ground," he said

He was speaking at the launch of the $10m programme by the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund and the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank to provide training for young refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, as well as members of local communities where the refugees are present.

He said another $33m fund his organisation set up five years ago helped to educate thousands of Syrian refugees and provided those who missed school, with vocational and other training to compensate for their lack of formal education.

Mr Al Ghurair also chairs the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, named after his father, who In 2015, gave a third of his assets, equivalent $1.1 billion, for educational development, especially in the Emirates and other Arab nations.

At that time, Mr Al Ghurair said there were many in the region who committed money to charity but that donations need to be "institutionalised" to be more effective.

He shares a commitment to education promotion with Islamic Development Bank chairman Muhammad Al Jasser, a Saudi citizen.

The two influential friends on Friday toured a learning centre in an impoverished area of east Amman. It is partly funded by the institutions of the two men, along with the US and other Western governments.

A band comprising Syrian refugees and Jordanian youths, trained in giving music therapy, played A Thousand and One Nights, by the late Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum.

Mr Al Ghurair and Mr Al Jasser posed for selfies with the young people from modest backgrounds and talked with computer science instructors and other officials involved in the programmes.

"God willing, more charitable people will offer help to such projects," Mr Al Ghurair said.

Jordan has 672,000 Syrian refugees registered by the UN.

Data by the UN Children Fund show that 64 per cent of Syrian refugee children in Jordan were enrolled in grades ranging from KG2 to 12 — for ages between five and 18.

The data is similar for the 844,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, where the government places restrictions on providing the refugees with vocational and other training.

Mr Al Jasser said refugee aid in recent years had concentrated on funding vocational training, partly because in many cases people with vocational certificates are more employable than those with a more theoretical university education.

"We will keep working with our partners to strengthen innovation and resilience among the Syrian refugees and within their host communities," he said.

Updated: October 02, 2022, 11:05 AM
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