GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Changing Hearts and Minds: The Rise and Role of Government Philanthropy in the United Arab Emirates
Paper Proposal Text :
Over the past 10 years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has seen a rapid increase in the number of family sponsored philanthropic institutions across the country, placing it as one of the top charitable countries in the world (Sabry, 2014; Coutts, 2014). Today, the UAE hosts a total 43 formal donor entities, 22 of which are government organizations and the remaining 21 classified as non-government organizations (Sabry, 2014). The majority of the government organizations were founded by members of various ruling families and are often named after the patron. Typically modeled on family foundations from the United States, such as the Ford, Rockefeller, and Gates Foundation (“How we craft strategy,” 2013), these institutions have adopted an American approach to civic engagement in order to pursue a range of development activities (Ibrahim & Sherif, 2008). To date, however, there has been no comprehensive mapping of these institutions and their various missions and activities, and as such there is a gap in the literature.

This paper examines the historical growth of government foundations in the UAE, the similarities and differences in the current group of institutions, and the ways in which they are utilized to indirectly promote social change, using a comparative case study approach. Qualitative data, including vision and mission statements, annual reports, staff profiles, and programmatic descriptions have been taken from the institutions’ websites and social media accounts and tabulated and coded to form a comprehensive picture of family philanthropy in the UAE. In addition to this, executive staff from some of the institutions were also interviewed to provide greater depth to the research. The paper concludes by discussing the purpose, potential, and sustainability of such institutions given their need for expatriate staff and their grounding in borrowed models that may or may not resonate with local sensitivities.


Coutts. (2014). Coutts million dollar donors report 2014. Retrieved January 18, 2015 from east-gcc/findings.html

How we craft strategy. Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. Retrieved January 18, 2015 from, craft-strategy/

Ibrahim, B. & Sherif, D. H. (2008). From charity to social change: Trends in Arab philanthropy [Google Books Version]. Retrieved January 18, 2015 from #v=onepage&q&f=false

Sabry, S. (2014, November 25). Major charitable contributions of UAE highlighted. Gulf News. Retrieved January 18, 2014 from contributions-of-uae-highlighted-1.1417740