Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, says Alwaleed

Updated 02 July 2015

Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, says Alwaleed

RIYADH: “Philanthropy is a personal responsibility, which I embarked upon more than three decades ago and is an intrinsic part of my Islamic faith,” says Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC).
Prince Alwaleed made these remarks on Wednesday when he pledged his entire fortune to the tune of $32 billion to charitable projects.
While many of his philanthropic projects are already under way, the prince has confirmed the funds will be made available even after his death.
The prince said he will donate his fortune to his organization called Alwaleed Philanthropies to work in the fields of “intercultural understanding” and supporting communities in need.
Programs will include promoting health, eradicating disease, bringing electricity to remote villages, building orphanages and schools, as well as empowering women.
His pledge came during the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims are encouraged to give charity and help the needy.
Prince Alwaleed has supported philanthropy for more than 35 years, donating $3.5 billion thus far through the Alwaleed Philanthropies.
Prince Alwaleed joins other billionaires who have made similar pledges in recent years, such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Bloomberg.
Prince Alwaleed has always had a good foresight, and the prince has routinely invested in promising companies such as Twitter.
At Wednesday’s press conference, he praised The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the US and shared that his intentions and visions were “modeled” on the philanthropic organization spearheaded by Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates.
“Since most of my wealth was achieved from this blessed country, I have made giving back to Saudi Arabia my number one priority, after which our philanthropic efforts will extend to countries around the world in accordance with the regulations governing charitable activities,” said the prince.
He said: “You may rightly wonder, why am I doing this? My response is that everyone goes through certain life-changing situations that have a great effect on his or her crucial future decisions. I have had the opportunity to witness, first hand, the challenging conditions of many communities across the globe, first hand, and have stood among those who were suffering and in great need. I have also learned of overwhelming obstacles through meetings with the leaders of countries and communities around the world.:
Prince Alwaleed said his foundations have been collaborating with other philanthropic organizations, NGOs, governments and non-profits for decades. Our work is far-reaching, providing humanitarian assistance to ease poverty and famine, supporting development, health and education, and encouraging long-term, sustainable change for the better.
He said: “Given the world’s current economic and social conditions, and the devastating effects of war and natural disasters around the world, more collaborative efforts are required from all capable individuals to unify their stand in the effort to alleviate poverty in the most deprived communities and to advance and build their societies.”
The prince said he was making the announcement as an illustration of God Almighty’s blessings, following His words in the Holy Qur’an: “But tell of the favors of your Lord,” (AlDhoha).
The prince added: “As I see it, the time has come for me to share all that I have to support communities through my foundation, Alwaleed Philanthropies, which aims to initiate and support projects worldwide regardless of religion, race or gender.”
He said: “For 35 years, Alwaleed Philanthropies have developed and sustained projects in more than 92 countries. We collaborate with a wide range of philanthropic, governmental and educational organizations to combat poverty, empower women and youth, to develop communities, provide disaster relief and to nurture cultural understanding through education. Together, we can build bridges for a more compassionate, tolerant and accepting world. Ours is a belief in humanity without boundaries and a commitment toward all.”


Davos mattered once; it can matter again

A policeman wearing camouflage clothing stands on the rooftop of a hotel near the Congress Centre during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 20, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2020

Davos mattered once; it can matter again

  • We don’t make peace with our friends, we make peace with our enemies. Our world is not short of sworn enemies — inviting a few to Davos might not end their enmity, but who knows what progress could be made?

DUBAI: It would be fair to say that in 1996, even after 25 years of its glittering annual gatherings, the World Economic Forum (WEF) rarely troubled the front pages — or indeed any pages — of the British tabloid press.

Which is why it was all the more surprising when my editor barked: “Get yourself to Davos!”

Confused, I inquired: “Isn’t that the chief Dalek in Doctor Who?”

“That’s Davros, you fool. Davos is a ski resort in the Swiss Alps where the world’s most powerful and important people meet every year with the aim of making the world a better place.”

The reason for my boss’s newfound interest in alpine matters was that Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of WEF, appeared to have assembled a group of key players in the Northern Ireland conflict who, far from appearing in the same room, normally had difficulty sharing the same country.

Even a quarter of a century later, it is impossible to exaggerate the malign and pervasive influence that events in Northern Ireland, the “strife-torn province” of media cliché, had on the UK at that time.

For three decades, a period known euphemistically as “The Troubles” — an area of barely 14,000 square km with a population of less than two million — was awash with heavily armed paramilitary groups known by a bewildering alphabet soup of acronyms: the IRA, Provisional IRA, INLA, IPLO, UDA, UPV, UVF, RHC, LVF — and that was just the bad guys.

The beleaguered police had their own acronym, the RUC.

The terrorists shot, they bombed, they maimed, they killed, mostly each other, admittedly, but an estimated 1,800 innocent civilians died too. And not just in Northern Ireland. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) in particular carried out a series of high-profile bomb attacks in Britain.

In a dynamic that will be familiar to observers of the Middle East, cynical politicians in Northern Ireland exploited and exaggerated an existing sectarian divide — between the Roman Catholic/nationalist/republican tradition, favoring closer links with the Republic of Ireland and eventual unification, and the protestant/unionist/loyalist tradition, favoring closer links with the rest of the UK — to consolidate their own power bases.

And now here was Klaus Schwab bringing together influential representatives of both traditions in a manner that had eluded British and Irish negotiators for years.

An impressive roster it was too: John Hume, the MP and leading nationalist politician; David Trimble, also an MP and the leading unionist politician; Sir Patrick Mayhew, the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; Dick Spring, the Tanaiste, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister; and Mitchel McLaughlin, chairman of Sinn Fein, which was the political wing of the IRA — in the sense that Hezbollah is the political wing of Hezbollah.

What could possibly go wrong?

Schwab would have done well to read up on the eminent 19th-century British politician William Ewart Gladstone, of whom it was said that he spent much of his career trying to solve the Irish Question, but every time he thought he was getting warm, the Irish changed the question.

The reconciliation session that Schwab convened took place in private, but he has since described how it went. First, the parties refused to sit at the same table.

Further tables were summoned, but the configuration was deemed unsuitable.

Further configurations were attempted, until all the participants were satisfied that, while still able to talk to each other, they had plausible deniability that they had entered anything remotely resembling negotiations.

What was said at that historic meeting, only the participants know. The immediate aftermath suggests that it was not fruitful.

A month later, the IRA ended a fragile 17-month cease-fire and detonated a massive bomb at Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands, killing two people and causing widespread destruction.

So are there any lessons to be learned from that attempted reconciliation at Davos 1996? Well, yes, two, I think.

First, when did Davos cease to be a forum at which warring parties could at least try to resolve their differences, and turn instead into a self-congratulatory schmooze fest at which everyone agrees with everyone else?

We don’t make peace with our friends, we make peace with our enemies. Our world is not short of sworn enemies — inviting a few to Davos might not end their enmity, but who knows what progress could be made?

Second, just when you think all hope is lost, it isn’t. It is true that 1996 was a bad year for renewed IRA violence, but a year later Tony Blair became British prime minister and turned up the heat under a simmering peace process of which that Davos meeting was a part.

A year after that, in 1998, the Good Friday agreement was signed in Belfast, a democratic power-sharing assembly was established in Northern Ireland, the province’s feuding paramilitaries laid down their weapons — and John Hume and David Trimble, two participants in a Davos meeting that initially appeared to consist chiefly of moving some furniture, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.