The UAE is seeking assistance from Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus in designing a massive welfare programme it launched on Sunday to combat poverty, empower communities, spread knowledge and foster innovation in 116 nations.
On Sunday, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, launched the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, a foundation combining several organisations.
The initiatives will have an annual budget of $270 million and will focus on four key areas: spreading knowledge; combating poverty; empowering communities; and innovation for the future.
The initiatives will target over 130 million people over the coming years and will focus its programmes on the Arab region.
During the launch of the initiatives, Maktoum sought help from the founder of Grameen Bank, as he wants the foundation to be inspired by the work of the Bangladeshi economist to help the poor overcome poverty.
During their discussion, Maktoum spoke to Yunus about the future programmes of the foundation and requested him to help him shape its agenda, Yunus Centre said in a statement yesterday.
The Gulf News quoted the Dubai ruler as saying: “The Arab region is undergoing massive challenges. We will not turn our backs on our region. We will provide our support and bring hope for our youth.”
Yunus, the microcredit pioneer, joined Maktoum to inaugurate the Global Islamic Economy Summit at Madinat Jumeirah on Monday. The event was attended by 4,000 policymakers and business leaders and finance professionals from 30 countries.
Prof Yunus, who gave the opening keynote speech, said businesses have to be redefined in order to make the world sustainable.
“Instead of keeping the businesses to aim at one P, the profit, it should aim at three Ps with equal priority-- People, Planet and Profit. Only then business can reflect the condition of people.”
“Unless we reformulate the purpose of business we would end up with a world where almost all the wealth of the planet will be concentrated in hands of a few people.”
Yunus also attended the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Ethical Finance Innovation Challenge Awards ceremony where he highlighted how the global financial crisis had uncovered serious shortcomings in the global banking system.
“But there are opportunities to correct mistakes and redesign the global financial system fundamentally,” Yunus said.
He said the answer largely lies with social business whose sole purpose is to solve a social problem in a financially self-sustaining way, rather than pursuing profits.
Yunus said the Islamic banking sector is well-placed to embrace social business because of its ethical roots.