Discovering leadership

Updated 12 August 2013
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Discovering leadership

The Unknown Leader is undoubtedly the best and most sincere and authentic self-help book written by a Saudi. Already in its second print, the book’s success is mainly due to its author, Hussein Al-Banawi, chairman and CEO of The Banawi Industrial Group, one of the leading manufacturing groups in Saudi Arabia. An inspirational leader and a man of vision, he is committed to helping the next set of entrepreneur leaders in the Arab world. All the proceeds from this book are donated to the enterprise leadership development programs sponsored by Banawi Industrial Group.
Hussein Al-Banawi’s mission is to pay tribute to the unknown leaders everywhere with the hope of inspiring some of us to become one.
In this book, Al-Banawi offers some insights and ideas for those who aspire to join the next generation of leaders in the Middle East and around the world. He also describes a new model of leadership that is not about chasing fame or glory but about contributing to a better society; not about accumulating wealth but about living a satisfying life; not about winning every contest but about venturing and taking risks in pursuit of excellence.
“So if you aspire to become a leader, I urge you not to make wealth your ultimate goal. Instead, strive to do work that is personally exciting and fascinating, and that helps to make the world a better place through the productivity and excellence of what you do,” says Al-Banawi.
We are reminded that a diploma or a college degree does not mark the end of an education but rather the beginning. Our present world is always changing and there is always something new to learn and one needs to continually develop one’s skills.
One should also immerse oneself in problem solving early in one’s career because this provides a training ground for finding solutions later on. Tackling problems early in our lives helps us recognize the opportunities hidden inside problems.
“When business challenges threaten to overwhelm you, remember: If you can manage the emotions, you can manage the issues. We are all students of life, and we hope we never graduate!” In that respect, we need to innovate and not imitate. We constantly need to look around us and see what could be done better. It is easier to imitate but imitation is a short-term solution. The author mentions his friend, Ueli Prager, a remarkable innovator and founder of the successful Movenpick Chain of Hotels and Resorts.
Ueli Prager built his business on the idea that busy travelers look forward to eat fresh and high quality food rapidly and at a reasonable price. The name of his business reflects this insight. After he saw a seagull catching a fish from the water, he decided to make it just as simple for people on the go to ‘move and pick’ delicious meals from his restaurants and therefore he named his chain, “Movenpick”.
Prager was the first restaurateur to feature sandwiches and salads on the menu. He also placed a bakery just inside the entrance of his hotels so that the aroma of freshly baked bread would lure visitors inside to the restaurants.
The digital age and its continuous and instantaneous communication have created a society in which change has become a way of life. It has also increased people’s desire for a greater say in their future and for the opportunity to exercise their talents for the benefit of all.
It is important to make sure that regulations, customs, laws and our way of thinking promote entrepreneurship and bottom-up development. Entrepreneurs remain a vital engine of growth in any society. They create innovation, sustainable employment, wealth and opportunity. But leaders are not only needed in companies and government offices, but also in factories, schools, universities, hospitals, in small shops, in offices and most importantly in the midst of our homes and families.
The characteristics of ‘unknown leaders’:
• Give more than they take
• Do not seek recognition, praise or fame, but rather the self-fulfilment that comes from the consciousness of a job well done.
• Are humble and modest, quick to praise others and to share the credit for accomplishments with all those who deserve it
• Refuse to participate in or surrender to the negativity that so many people wallow in.
• Help make our world a place of hope and high achievement
• Are needed today in greater numbers than ever!
This book touches both our heart and mind with moving and exciting stories of leading businessmen and unknown leaders. It is also an inspirational guide, which motivates us and provides us with clear advice on how each one of us can become a leader.

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'Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation' pledges $27 million for refugee education

Updated 20 June 2018
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'Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation' pledges $27 million for refugee education

DUBAI: On World Refugee Day, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Emirati businessman and philanthropist, announced the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, a new 100M AED ($27 million) initiative to benefit 5,000 children and youth over 3 years.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said: “I established this fund because I believe that philanthropists have a role in helping to address one of the most acute challenges of our region: lack of education opportunities for young people who need it the most.”
The Fund will award grants to support secondary, vocational and tertiary education programs for refugee youth in Jordan and Lebanon. It will also support children of families who due to wars and disasters in their home countries, temporarily reside in the UAE but are unable to afford school fees. The first round of grants will be announced prior to the start of the new school year.

Applauding this initiative, Filippo Grande, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said: “We welcome the generous commitment by Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair. The Fund highlights the importance of the Arab world’s business community in creating a positive impact through supporting the region’s displaced communities.”

Commenting on the initiative, Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education said: “There can be no better investment in the future of the Arab region than to support the education of the most vulnerable — refugee children and youth.”

The AbdulAziz Refugee Education Fund will be administered by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. Founded in 2015 and based in Dubai, it is the largest privately funded foundation in the Arab world focused exclusively on education. It aims to improve access to quality education for high-achieving, underserved Emirati and Arab youth. Abdulla Al Ghurair pledged one third of his wealth to the Foundation and set out a target of reaching 15,000 youth over 10 years valued at over $1 billion.