Pearl Initiative promotes strategic philanthropy in the Gulf region


Experts during the interactive workshop.

Staff Reporter, Gulf Today

Pearl Initiative, a leading Gulf-based, business-led, non-profit organisation, recently partnered with Philanthropy Age to host two virtual interactive workshops dedicated to bringing together dozens of Gulf-based philanthropists and High Net Worth Individuals, providing them with the practical knowledge on how to clarify their philanthropic identity and the importance of governance for effective strategic giving.

Facilitated by 21/64, a non-profit practice providing advising and training for next generation engagement, the two-day workshops provided experiential learning and purposeful skill-building to help participants identify and align their values in giving, and ultimately supporting the development of philanthropic journeys and maximising the impact of philanthropic funds. The workshops covered modules such as: “Understanding your Resource Allocation Philosophy”, “How to Integrate and Operationalise Values with Philanthropic Practices”, and “Motivational Values and Picturing Your Legacy.”

The workshops featured internationally renowned speakers including Valerie Rockefeller, Chairwoman of the Board at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Sara Ojjeh, Founder at Ethos Philanthropies and Founding Member of Maverick Collective; and Elizabeth Tanya Masiyiwa, Executive Director at Delta Philanthropies and Co-Founder & CEO of Akello.

Praising the enthusiasm and unwavering commitment to philanthropy in the Gulf region,  Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Founder & Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, said, “It was a pleasure to attend the enlightening workshops hosted by the Pearl Initiative. I was impressed by the discussion and the sharing of knowledge and experiences reflected by the other participants, as it affirms our shared belief that philanthropy is essential for impactful social, economic, and cultural progress.”

With the regional trend of philanthropists moving away from traditional ways of giving and CSR, the workshops enabled the discussion of a more strategic understanding of philanthropy and the need for robust governance standards to support the philanthropic ecosystem in the region. Through a series of interactive exercises and peer discussions, the attendees were left with actionable next steps to take on their strategic philanthropic journey; including how to apply a vision statement to a philanthropic roadmap to achieve intended impact and discover and leverage values that motivate philanthropic decision-making.

While a culture of philanthropy is much embedded in the Arab world, donors are increasingly concerned about how much of an impact their giving is making.  As recently reported by The Arab Giving Survey, 76% of donors now require transparency on impact and evidence of how effective a non-profit is in achieving its goal.  71% of respondents would increase their giving if they had a better understanding of how their funds were used.

Ranya Saadawi, Executive Director of the Pearl Initiative, said, “Pearl Initiative is proud to have hosted these esteemed workshops in conjunction with our implementing partners, Philanthropy Age and 21/64. With the Middle East set to face the largest intergenerational wealth transfer over the next 10 years, $572 billion expected to be passed to the next generation, these workshops provided a meaningful learning and growth opportunity for principal donors who will be stepping into their roles in their family philanthropy and want to clarify their identity and direction.”

 In 2021, the Pearl Initiative launched the Circle, in collaboration with Philanthropy Age, establishing a community of philanthropic donors to spearhead the drive for greater transparency, accountability, and trust in giving across the Gulf region. Pearl Initiative’s Governance in Philanthropy programme will curate a number of events in the coming year equipping corporate and individual donors with strategic guidance to better inform, educate and implement more robust governance practices in philanthropy. In addition, bespoke resources and guides on impactful giving can be found on the recently launched online platform. Visit to learn more.

The Pearl Initiative is the Gulf region’s leading independent, non-profit organisation working to promote the business case for a corporate culture of accountability and transparency. The organisation was established in 2010 by regional business leaders in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. The Pearl Initiative is the only private, non-profit Gulf business network to receive special consultative status from the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The Pearl Initiative runs a series of corporate governance-related programmes, including Anti-Corruption Best Practices, Diversity in Business Leadership, Governance in MSMEs, Governance in Family Firms, Governance in Tech, and Governance in Philanthropy.


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