‘We have to be very creative moving forward’ post pandemic, says Princess Lamia of Alwaleed Philanthropies

28/06/2021

Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, speaks to Frank Kane. (Screenshot) 

  • Head of Saudi charitable organization says it is time to apply the lessons of COVID-19 humanitarian crisis
  • Appearing on “Frankly Speaking,” Princess Lamia also discussed women’s progress in KSA among other topics

DUBAI: Alwaleed Philanthropies has ridden the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and is set to accelerate its strategy of “creative philanthropy” as the global recovery gathers pace, according to the woman in charge of the Riyadh-headquartered Saudi charitable organization.

Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of the 40-year-old organization set up by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Arab News that the pandemic had been a demanding time for the organization as it faced extraordinary demands on its resources, but that the time had come to apply the lessons learned during the humanitarian and economic crisis.

“The United Nations came out with a very unique name for doing good in the world, which is ‘creative economy.’ So, you have to be very creative moving forward after the pandemic — how you’re going to reach your beneficiaries, and how you can provide support, and how you can empower and do good in general,” she said.

Her comments came in the course of an interview with “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video interviews with leading policymakers and thinkers in the Middle East and the world.

Princess Lamia, who is regarded as a role model for the empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia under the reforms of the Vision 2030 strategy, also spoke of the progress women have made in the Kingdom, the place of art and culture in the global philanthropy scene, and the need to transcend the “clash of civilizations” approach to relations between the Islamic world and its international neighbors.

Alwaleed Philanthropies responded after the outbreak of the virus last year with a $30 million initiative to provide essential medical goods and services to poorer countries around the world struggling with their pandemic response.

This was on top of Alwaleed Philanthropies’ regular commitment to vaccination programs around the world, and its domestic and international program of medical and humanitarian assistance.

Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, is pictured in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj) 

“We actually worked in some countries in Africa, we worked in Iraq, we worked in Syria, we worked in Tunisia, we worked in Yemen. We provided economic support — so, for example in Africa, we collaborated with the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) to build small factories to produce masks (and improve) sanitation. It was in favor of empowering women and youth,” said Princess Lamia.

“I think the pandemic shows the importance of having a house and to have a roof over your head. All you need to be safe from COVID is only a room and a roof over your head, and that’s why we worked with Habitat (a UN urban organization) in shelters in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.”

This was in addition to Alwaleed Philanthropies’ established collaboration with the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“I’d say it was a quite creative initiative that we covered, and we actually reached over 100 million people around the world,” Princess Lamia said.

Alwaleed Philanthropies works in four main areas — community development, empowering women and youth, providing vital disaster relief and bridging cultures — which combined have benefited close to 1 billion people around the world.

One big learning point from the pandemic was the move to online and digital philanthropic support, with projects in Myanmar and at home in Saudi Arabia going online as lockdowns hit.
“Believe it or not, from a money perspective or a budget perspective, it’s much easier and that’s why maybe this year we reached more people,” Princess Lamia said.

Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, is pictured in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj) 

Some observers have been concerned that the intense focus on finding and administering a vaccine against the novel coronavirus might divert attention from other global inoculation programs against infectious diseases such as polio, where Alwaleed Philanthropies has played a big role in vaccination programs in developing countries.

Princess Lamia said there had only been a limited effect. “I agree that at Alwaleed Philanthropies, we transferred some of our funds to COVID-19 due to the urgency of the pandemic, but I don’t think it will have an effect in the long run,” she added. “I believe we’re in a good place now, after having the vaccine against COVID and doing much more research.”

She said Prince Alwaleed varied his contribution to the overall budget “if he sees it’s necessary.” Alwaleed Philanthropies works alongside other big global philanthropies such as the Gates Foundation as well as UN agencies, but is not in competition with them, she insisted.

“I wouldn’t say compete. I’d say we learn from each other, the methodology of this foundation, or the core spirit of this foundation. It’s built on partnership, and this is what Prince Alwaleed believes in — partnership,” she said.

Alwaleed Philanthropies’ international connections have direct benefits for its work in Saudi Arabia. “Maybe what differentiates us from a domestic perspective more than any other foundation in Saudi Arabia is that we have the international experience and expertise, and that’s what we’re trying to do in our projects in Saudi Arabia — transferring knowledge from what we did outside,” she said.

One example is the Turquoise Mountain initiative, backed by the UK’s prince of Wales, which seeks to encourage and promote traditional crafts in various parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, where some 1,000 mainly female artisans are employed in craft workshops producing high-end goods, most recently under the Mizwada brand.

“We’re upscaling their knowledge. We’re taking the crafts from a very modest or very humble craft to a luxury brand,” Princess Lamia said.

Female empowerment has been one of the main themes of Alwaleed Philanthropies in the Kingdom, and she believes great strides have been made for women in recent years, with the freedom to drive, the relaxation of guardianship laws and greater female employment opportunities.

“I don’t think three or four years ago I’d be sitting and talking with you,” she said, adding that Western media had not given the Kingdom credit for the big advances.

The rise to prominence of a number of women in the Kingdom — such as Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to Washington, and Sarah Al-Suhaimy, chairperson of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) — is further evidence of female empowerment, Princess Lamia said.

Alwaleed Philanthropies is run by a 10-strong team of women appointed by Prince Alwaleed, and it has programs to cultivate the skills necessary for women to enter employment in the private and public sectors.

Secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud. (Screenshot) 

“It was very clearly announced from the government that we want to support women and we want to empower women. I think some of the entities or the companies took it to a next level in which they literally discarded the men, but I believe that we should empower humans,” she said.
One big part of Alwaleed Philanthropies’ work is the effort to promote better understanding between the Islamic world and other belief systems, which has been controversially called a “clash of civilizations.”
Pointing to the global confrontations after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, Princess Lamia said: “I believe this clash isn’t that easy to resolve.” She spoke of how Prince Alwaleed — a well-known investor on Wall Street — was in New York at the time of the tragedy, and decided to do something to help ease long-term tensions.
“That’s why we collaborated with six of the most prominent, I’d say important, universities around the world. We actually created centers for research and promotion of tolerance and understanding,” she said.
There are now Alwaleed centers in six of the most prestigious universities in the US, Europe and the Middle East, part of what she called a “soft power” initiative to reconcile misunderstanding between people of different faiths around the world.
The other angle is Alwaleed Philanthropies’ promotion of art and culture as a bridge between religions. It has established partnerships with the Louvre in Paris and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin to showcase works of Islamic art, but with a universal message.
“That’s how you create awareness of how Islamic cultures were — leaning toward art and beauty,” Princess Lamia said.
Twitter: @frankkanedubai

This article was first published in Arab News

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Alwaleed Philanthropies and the World Scouting launch first scouting units for women in Saudi universities

14/03/2021

Alwaleed Philanthropies, chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, signed two memorandums of cooperation (MoC), in collaboration with the World Scout Foundation to support women and youth involvement in scouting locally and internationally, and encourage greater participation in community volunteering within the higher education sector. The collaboration will support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal of rallying one million individuals to volunteer per year.

The partnership agreements aim to align volunteering programs in the Saudi universities with the framework of the World Scouting as well as prepare students to participate in non-profit development projects. Furthermore, the programs will work to improve community engagement by forging partnerships with third-party institutions within the community to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The newly launched initiative is the first in the Kingdom to build structured women and youth scout groups in Saudi universities. As part of the pilot phase, five universities are expected to be onboard in 2021, while further agreements will include more universities in Saudi Arabia as part of a broader scheme after this year. The first two agreements have been signed with Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) and Prince Sultan University (PSU).

Emphasizing the importance of encouraging youth to participate in volunteering programs, HH Princess Sama bint Faisal Al Saud, Board Member of the World Scout Foundation and Head of the Saudi Girl Scouts Committee, said: “Our countries need to empower and encourage women and youth to contribute positively to the continuous growth and development of our societies.  Scouting is one of the most effective ways to develop the required skills, knowledge, and sense of responsibility to improve well-being of our local and global communities.”

HH Princess Sama bint Faisal Al Saud is the first Head of the Saudi Girl Scouts Committee, and has supported young women to participate in community engagement programs throughout the Kingdom.

Commenting on the announcement, HRH Princess Lamia bint Majed Saud Al Saud, Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies, added: “Saudi women have a crucial role to play in the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the wider region. I strongly believe that empowering women and youth through volunteer programs has a ripple effect on families, communities, and countries, and can achieve long-lasting benefits and inspire other women, particularly young girls to participate in the society and drive environmental and economic progress in the Kingdom. We are proud to work with our partners to support the Kingdom in reaching 1 million volunteers per year, while simultaneously achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

For four decades, Alwaleed Philanthropies has supported and spent more than 4 billion dollars on social welfare and initiated more than 1000 projects in over +189 countries, managed by 10 Saudi female members, reaching more than 1 billion beneficiaries around the world, regardless of gender, race, or religion. Alwaleed Philanthropies collaborates with a range of philanthropic, governmental, and educational organizations to combat poverty, empower women and youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief, and create cultural understanding through education.

This article was first published in Alwaleed Philanthropies

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Kingdom Tower Lights up in Orange to Mark World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day

30/01/2021

Alwaleed Philanthropies (AP), chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal AlSaud, announced lighting up the iconic Kingdom Tower in Riyadh in orange Saturday, January 30th, to join the world in celebrating the second annual World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day.

From the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia to the Colosseum in Rome, more than 50 landmarks representing over 25 nations across the world showcased their support on World NTD Day by lighting up the building “orange” in celebrating the progress of beating NTD. 1 in 5 people on the planet are affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), many of which can be prevented, eliminated or even eradicated with improved access to existing safe and cost-effective tools.

Alwaleed Philanthropies participated in NTD Day along side with partners in support of the projects that aim to eliminate these diseases such as, The Carter Center in Eradication of Guinea Worm project, the UNICEF in Measles and Rubella Elimination Project, The End Fund in the END of Diseases of Neglect Project, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Polio Eradication Fund.

For four decades, Alwaleed Philanthropies has supported and spent more than 4 billion dollars on social welfare and initiated more than 1000 projects in over +189 countries, managed by 10 Saudi female members, reaching more than 1 billion beneficiaries around the world, regardless of gender, race, or religion. Alwaleed Philanthropies collaborates with a range of philanthropic, governmental, and educational organizations to combat poverty, empower women and youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief, and create cultural understanding through education. It seeks to build bridges for a more compassionate, tolerant, and accepting world.

This article was first published in Alwaleed Philanthropies

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Alwaleed Philanthropies allocates $30m to fight Covid-19

28/04/2020

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has made a number of his assets in Saudi Arabia available to combat Covid-19, and helped repatriate hundreds of students to Lebanon

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s Alwaleed Philanthropies has allocated $30m to a number of initiatives working to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, it has announced.

The $30m in funds includes a significant allocation towards initiatives such as UN-Habitat to improve water, sanitation and hygiene in vulnerable communities and to establish shelters and fix damaged houses to address overcrowding and enable social distancing in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The allocation of funds comes to after Prince Alwaleed made available a number of his assets – including the Four Seasons Hotel, Kingdom Schools and Banque Saudi Fransi – to help Saudi Arabia combat Covid-19.

Additionally, Alwaleed Philanthropies (Lebanon) helped repatriate hundreds of Lebanese students back from France, Italy and Spain.

“In these times of unprecedented crisis it is more important than ever that we pull our resources together in the battle against Covid-19,” Prince Alwaleed said.

“With many developed nations struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, we must spare a thought for the developing countries of Africa and the less fortunate countries in the Middle East,” he added.

The statement added that Alwaleed Philanthropies will be working with Gates Philanthropy Partners to fund a number of health projects to accelerate the development of therapeutics and delivery of diagnostics to protect vulnerable populations in Africa.

This article was first published in Arabian Business

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Alwaleed Philanthropies recognized at leading Davos event

23/01/2020

Princess Lamia Bint Majed Saud Al Saud receiving an award from Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. — Courtesy photo

DAVOS-KLOSTERS, Switzerland — Alwaleed Philanthropies, chaired by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the global philanthropic foundation, received recognition at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos for its commitment to eradicating preventable diseases.

The award was presented following Gavi’s annual public-private partnership breakfast on the sidelines of the WEF and comes as Alwaleed Philanthropies marks its 40th anniversary.

The award was received by Princess Lamia Bint Majed Saud Al Saud, general secretary of Alwaleed Philanthropies, who also spoke at Gavi’s annual public-private partnership breakfast on the organization’s commitment to ensure that every child is immunized with basic life-saving vaccines no matter where they live in the world.

Last year Alwaleed Philanthropies made a fresh commitment to preventing the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases by investing a further $5 million in its partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The commitment will provide extra funding between 2020 and 2024 to support organizations identified by Gavi as ‘pacesetters’ that are developing new innovations to improve vaccine access and delivery, particularly in urban areas.

The foundation is providing the funding through Gavi’s INFUSE initiative (Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunisation), which identifies these ‘pacesetters’, provides funding and support for them, and connects them to authorities in countries that need vaccination support.

By 2050 nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in urban settings. The rapid growth will add nearly 2.5 billion people to urban areas, with 90% of the expansion occurring in Asia and Africa. These large, highly populated urban settings with mobile, transient and under-immunised populations lend themselves to an increased risk of disease transmission and outbreaks.

Princess Lamia said: “Alwaleed Philanthropies has a 40-year history of supporting development and humanitarian initiatives that lift up the most vulnerable people and bridge the gaps that divide society.

“One of those gaps is disease. In a world where we have vaccines to many of the of the world’s most debilitating illnesses, there is still millions of people, particularly children, that are plagued by these preventable diseases because of a lack of access.

“On behalf of Alwaleed Philanthropies, I would like to thank Gavi and Dr. Seth Berkley for the award and for being such outstanding partners to work with. Since our first work with Gavi in 2015 we have been able to deliver great success across a number of projects.

This comes at a crucial time with just a decade to go before the 2030 deadline of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is a lot of work to be done over the next ten years that will require strong and decisive collaboration across organizations around the world.”

“Alwaleed Philanthropies has been a committed supporter of our mission to ensure no child goes without lifesaving vaccines,” said Dr. Seth, CEO of Gavi. “I would like to congratulate Alwaleed Philanthropies on their 40th Anniversary and thank Princess Lamia Bint Majid Al-Saud for continuously supporting Gavi. The Alliance’s successes would not be possible without partnerships with organizations like Alwaleed Philanthropies.” — SG

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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