Home > Article > Return on Investment: Philanthropy in the Arab Region by Atallah Kuttab

Return on Investment: Philanthropy in the Arab Region
By Atallah Kuttab
Original post : February 18, 2016


A surge in Arab philanthropy by a new generation is challenging views on wealth and approaches to impact. Arab philanthropy is not a unified ecosystem of coordinated parts; it is a diverse and complex combination of sources of funding, intermediaries and beneficiaries, which varies greatly depending on which part of the Arab world we are talking about – the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), North Africa (Maghreb) or the eastern Mediterranean (Levant or Mashreq). However, in all the countries of the region there is a longstanding tradition of social giving in a variety of forms and inclusive of all faiths, the best known being waqf.

Across the globe, and the Arab region is no exception, the strong tradition of giving spanning several hundred if not thousands of years, has often been disrupted by governments that considered the welfare of their citizens as their sole responsibility and, therefore, took control of the philanthropic resources that existed including endowments, lands and property. During the last 25 years, a renewal has been taking place and a surge in philanthropic organizations is being witnessed. While this renewal shows many similarities in different countries, there are also many specific differences, and it is this diversity that makes global philanthropy rich.

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2 Comments, RSS

  • Alia Al-Dalli

    says on:
    Mar 25, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you for this clear article! More are needed in the MENA region to stimulate thinking and progress in this little known field in modern day societies. Most people will recognize sadaqa, zakat and waqf; few will acknowledge non-for profit foundations or funds or even philanthropy as relating to their charitable activities and even less as “return on investment”. In some countries giving for a good cause can be tax deductible which makes giving even more interesting, etc.. I wonder if the AFF can translate it into Arabic in order to increase the readership and commitment among a larger audience from the region.

    • Arab Foundations Forum

      says on:
      Mar 27, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Thank you vey much for your useful and insightful comment, Alia. We will definitely look into having the article translated for wider distribution – thank you, that’s a great suggestion and is, in fact, very much in line with our efforts to ensure that we try to distribute and source as much Arabic content as we can. Thank you again!

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