Al Ghurair sets up Dh100m education fund for Arab refugee children

Three-year fund will support a minimum of 5,000 beneficiaries including refugee youth in Jordan, Lebanon and UAE

Dubai: An Emirati businessman has set up a Dh100-million education fund to finance schooling of at least 5,000 refugee children in the Arab world over the next three years.


The announcement was made on Tuesday marking the 18th annual World Refugee Day, an awareness effort organised by the United Nations refugee agency.

An estimated 68.5 million people are currently displaced worldwide including millions of Arab refugees in Jordan and Lebanon who have fled the Syrian conflict.

According to Unicef, more than 80 per cent of out-of-school children and youth in the region are affected by conflict. The Syrian conflict has severely exacerbated the situation with two million children out of school and hundreds of thousands of youth unable to continue their education.

The new education fund was announced by Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Emirati businessman and philanthropist, who said in a statement that the new fund will benefit refugee youth in Jordan, Lebanon and Arab children affected by wars and disasters who are living in the UAE.

“I established this fund during the Year of Zayed because I believe that philanthropists have a role in helping to support one of the most acute challenges of our region: lack of education opportunities for young people who need it the most,” said Al Ghurair.

“Young people whose education has been interrupted by conflict deserve a chance to rebuild their lives and have a shot at a good future.”

The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund will support high-impact education programmes at the secondary, vocational and tertiary levels of education for refugee youth in Jordan and Lebanon.

The grants provided by the fund 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 new fund will award grants through a competitive selection process to education institutions and non-governmental organisations working with refugee children and youth from countries affected by wars and disasters.

This first round of grants to partner organisations in Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE will be announced prior to the start of the new school year. The next call for proposals will be in early 2019.

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement: “We welcome the generous commitment by Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair. This significant contribution is in line with UNHCR’s direction towards a whole-of-society approach where individuals and organisations work hand in hand to ensure that people who have been forced to flee are able to rebuild their lives and take control of their futures. The fund highlights the importance of the Arab world’s business community in creating a positive impact through supporting the region’s displaced communities.”

Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, said in a statement: “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. I have long advocated for new partnerships and solutions to address funding education for refugee children and youth. This important initiative will make a difference in the lives of thousands of young people and I am encouraged that other business leaders will follow.”

Elaborating on how the fund will be managed, Maysa Jalbout, chief executive officer of the Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, said: “We are grateful to our chairman Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair for entrusting the foundation in developing and administering this important initiative. The refugee education fund will allow us to reach thousands of children through partnerships with education institutions and non-governmental organisations.”

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