Pearl Initiative promotes strategic philanthropy in the Gulf region

Experts during the interactive workshop.

Staff Journalist, Gulf today

Pearl Initiative, a leading Gulf-based, corporate-led nonprofit, recently partnered with Philanthropy Age to host two virtual interactive workshops intended to bring together dozens of philanthropists and high-net-worth individuals based in the Gulf, offering them the practical ways to know how to clarify their philanthropic identity and the importance of governance for effective strategic giving.

Facilitated by 21/64, a nonprofit practice offering advice and training for next generation engagement, the two-day workshops provided experiential learning and targeted skill building to help participants identify and to align their values ​​in giving, and ultimately to support the development of philanthropic travel and maximize the impact of philanthropic funds. The workshops covered modules such as: “Understanding Your Resource Allocation Philosophy”, “How to Integrate and Operationalize Values ​​with Philanthropic Practices” and “Motivating Values ​​and Your Legacy Image”.

The workshops featured internationally acclaimed speakers including Valerie Rockefeller, Chair of the Board of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Sara Ojjeh, founder of Ethos Philanthropies and founding member of Maverick Collective; and Elizabeth Tanya Masiyiwa, executive director of Delta Philanthropies and co-founder and 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 and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, said: workshops organized by the Pearl Initiative. I was impressed by the discussion and sharing of knowledge and experiences reflected by the other participants, as it confirms 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 provided an opportunity to discuss a more strategic understanding of philanthropy and the need for strong governance standards to support the philanthropic ecosystem In the region. Through a series of interactive exercises and peer-to-peer discussions, participants were left with achievable next steps to embark on their strategic philanthropic journey; including how to apply a vision statement to a philanthropic roadmap to achieve intended impact and discover and leverage the values ​​that drive philanthropic decision-making.

While a culture of philanthropy is entrenched in the Arab world, donors are increasingly concerned about the impact of their donations. As The Arab Giving Survey recently reported, 76% of donors now demand transparency on impact and evidence of a nonprofit’s effectiveness in achieving its purpose. 71% of respondents would increase their donations if they better understood how their funds are used.

Ranya Saadawi, Executive Director of the Pearl Initiative, said, “The Pearl Initiative is proud to have organized these esteemed workshops in collaboration with our implementing partners, Philanthropy Age and 21/64. As the Middle East is set to face the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in the next 10 years, with $572 billion to be passed on to the next generation, these workshops provided an opportunity for learning and significant growth for major donors who will step into their roles in their family philanthropy and wish to clarify their identity and focus.

In 2021, the Pearl Initiative launched the Circle, in collaboration with Philanthropy Age, establishing a community of philanthropic donors to lead the search for greater transparency, accountability and trust in giving in the Gulf region. The Pearl Initiative’s Governance in Philanthropy program will host a number of events over the coming year, providing corporate and individual donors with strategic guidance to better inform, educate and implement stronger governance practices in philanthropy. Additionally, bespoke resources and guides on impactful giving are available on the recently launched online platform. Visit to learn more.

The Pearl Initiative is the leading independent non-profit organization in the Gulf region working to promote the business case for a corporate culture of accountability and transparency. The organization was established in 2010 by regional business leaders in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. The Pearl Initiative is the only private commercial non-profit network in the Gulf to receive Special Consultative Status from the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The Pearl Initiative runs a series of programs related to corporate governance, including anti-corruption best practices, diversity in corporate leadership, governance in MSMEs, governance in family businesses, governance in technology and governance in philanthropy.