The legacy of Saudi tycoon Saleh Kamel

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Saleh Abdullah Kamel. (Supplied)
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Sheikh Saleh was the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, an international organization part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which was the sole representative of the private sector in 57 Islamic countries. (Supplied)
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A philanthropist and an advocate for Islamic finance and education, Sheikh Saleh Kamel was a believer in the value of education and volunteerism. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 May 2020

The legacy of Saudi tycoon Saleh Kamel

  • Memories from some of those who knew him best of a man who from humble beginnings achieved great things

RIYADH: Saleh Kamel, the Saudi billionaire who rose from humble beginnings to achieve great success as a businessman, media tycoon and philanthropist, died on Monday and has been buried in Makkah — but his legacy is sure to endure.
Even at the age of 79, despite suffering from age-related health issues, Kamel remained active and busy. Turki Al-Dakhil, the Saudi ambassador to the UAE, said in a message posted on Twitter that Kamel, also known as Sheikh Saleh, had called him to share Ramadan greetings.
“He then contacted me throughout the first two weeks (of Ramadan) to facilitate the evacuation of two (Saudi) men who were suffering from chronic diseases,” Al-Dakhil added. “He sponsored their travel through a private jet.”
Kamel was born in Makkah in 1941 to a middle-class family. His father worked in the government sector and was appointed general manager of the Saudi cabinet office.
Abdul Aziz Khoja, a former minister of media and Saudi ambassador to Lebanon and Morocco, met Kamel in high school and their friendship endured for more than 60 years.

Saleh Kamel was a thinker and a Samaritan, who devoted his time and energy to the greater good. We lost a good man.

Abdul Aziz Khoja, Former minister of media and Saudi ambassador to Lebanon and Morocco

“He was my childhood friend,” said Khoja. “He served the Arab and Islamic community throughout his life. He made huge efforts to establish Islamic banks and financing.
“He was a thinker and a Samaritan, who devoted his time and energy to the greater good. We lost a good man.”
Kamel’s professional career began early in life, at the age of eight.
“One of the first businesses I launched was when I asked my mother to make me balela (a traditional chickpea soup), and I sold it to my friends in the street,” Kamel said during an interview with the Success Makers TV show.
After attending elementary and middle school in Makkah and Taif, and high school in Jeddah, he graduated from King Saud University in Riyadh in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
While in college, he started a small business called “Dar and Maktab Al-Kashaf Al-Saudi” that sold printed copies of his notes to fellow students. After graduating, he worked at the Saudi Ministry of Finance.
“I joined the ministry to learn and gain knowledge,” Kamel said. “I never dreamed of getting a higher position at the ministry. I used to work as a financial representative at the ministry and had to work with all the ministries in Riyadh, Taif, Jeddah and Madinah. In this job, I gained experience in all sectors and fields.”
After 10 years with the ministry, Kamel moved to the private sector. He founded his flagship Dallah Al-Baraka Holding Company in 1969 in Riyadh, and expanded its activities through Dallah Al-Baraka Group to include financial and banking services, health care, manufacturing, real estate, tourism, trading and more. Dallah Al-Baraka Group also has the honor of being chosen to clean and sterilize the Two Holy Mosques.
Kamel said that the Dallah in the company name came from the nickname for Abdullah that is common in the Saudi western region.
“My grandmother used to call my father Dallah, so I used the name for my big company,” he said.
Kamel was also a well-known investor in the media and satellite television production. He established Arab Radio and Television and formed a partnership with the Arab MBC channel.
Dubbed “the father of contemporary Islamic finance,” he received Malaysia’s Royal Award for Islamic Finance in November 2010. The tycoon’s wealth was estimated to be about $2.3 billion. The businessman’s life and career was based on change, he once said in an interview.
“If I start a business and it becomes a routine, I lose interest in it,” he said. “I am not a daily manager. So after the work settles, I lose my interest in it and I make a new project.”
Kamel believed that all people should have dignity and that all lives are precious and deserve to be honored. He said that he aspired to creating jobs.
“My ambition is to have a strong Saudi economy and a strong foundation, and secondly to create jobs for the unemployed,” he said.
As the chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it was his hope that every chamber in the Kingdom would focus on reducing unemployment, saying: “If we eliminate unemployment, we eliminate terrorism.”
Mowafaq Al-Nowaiser, the editor-in-chief of Makkah newspaper, said that he will remember Kamel fondly.
“The first time I met him was in his home in 2013, at the meeting that was the birth of Makkah newspaper,” he said.
Al-Nowaiser said that when Kamel founded Makkah newspaper, he wanted in particular to highlight the obituary section, to give the families of the deceased a platform to mourn their loved ones.
“He told me: (The deceased) might not be known around the world; however, they mean the world to their family and loved ones,” said Al-Nowaiser.
Although he ran several successful companies, Kamel still made time for culture. He was an avid reader and culturally engaged on an international scale.
For all his success and accomplishments, Kamel never forgot his roots and one place meant more to him than any other.
“The city of Makkah was very dear to him. He wanted to serve it and everything that has to do with it. It had a very special place in his heart,” said Al-Nowaiser. “He was an intellect. Whether in economy or finance, he spoke in numbers and conversations with him were deep.”


Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

Updated 23 October 2020

Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

JEDDAH: Six international organizations have completed two studies on e-learning in the Kingdom and praised its efforts in providing a rapid response, multiple options and continuous improvement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The studies involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.
The center said that the global organizations completed two comprehensive studies on the experience of public and higher education in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, with the aim of documenting and studying the reality of the experience and coming up with initiatives to develop e-learning practices in accordance with current global practices and standards.
The studies were conducted with the participation of students, faculty members, teachers, parents and school leaders.
The number of participants in the public education study reached 318,000, while the number of participants in the higher education study reached 24,000.
The first study was prepared by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), with the participation of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Quality Matters (QM), the UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in Education (IITE), the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) in the US.
The second study was prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the cooperation of the Harvard Graduate School
of Education.
In the studies, reference comparisons were made with more than 193 countries. The two studies showed the Kingdom’s distinction in the diversity of options, including, for example, electronic content and satellite channels available for e-learning in public education.

NUMBER

342k

The studies on e-learning involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.

The percentage of countries that succeeded in providing these at the national level was only 38 percent.
The study conducted by the OECD and the Harvard Graduate School of Education included a comparison of the Kingdom’s response to education during the COVID-19 pandemic with 37 member states.
The results showed the Kingdom’s progress in 13 out of 16 indicators on the average of
these countries.
The study also revealed that teachers received significant support to overcome obstacles to e-learning.
The study of public education indicated that there was a clear strategy for the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in the Kingdom and address any issues.
OLC hailed the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Education in dealing with the crisis by providing a variety of options for e-learning, and the quick response to the pandemic and immediate shift to remote instruction.
The two studies recommended 71 proposed development initiatives for public education and 78 proposed development initiatives for higher education.
The National Center for e-Learning is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education to present the initiatives and begin their implementation.
The center announced that the organizations that conducted the studies would publish their results and complete the second phase at the end of the current semester.