Billionaire businessman Abdul Aziz al-Ghurair has launched a $1.14 billion education fund for underserved youth in the Middle East, the Associated Press reports.
To be based in the United Arab Emirates, the Abdulla al-Ghurair Foundation for Education plans to provide fifteen thousand scholarships over the next ten years to Arab students in need of financial assistance who qualify for admission to the top universities in the region. Al-Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank, told the AP his family — which owns stakes in a number of other businesses and industries, including iron and steel, packaging, cement, and insurance companies — has committed a third of its wealth to the foundation, making it largest education-focused endowment in the Arab world.
The commitment is about providing a better future for the region's youth, al-Ghurair told the AP, because "the prosperity of the Arab world can only come through proper education."
The first of the foundation's initiatives, the al-Ghurair STEM Scholars Program, will award scholarships starting in the fall. "We're looking to have young people who are well-rounded, who can think critically, who are creative," said the foundation's CEO, Maysa Jalbout. "We're hoping to help them enter the top universities, both in the region and globally, so that they can be competitive and be able to compete on a global level for the jobs of the future."