I have a rotten job. I am forced to travel to all sorts of places and meet all kinds of people. So, for my sins, I am currently in Dubai, in the UAE, meeting people Sightsavers is working with as we develop our presence here. I know, you feel for me..
I hadn’t really been exposed to the Islamic culture of philanthropy before this job but I am rapidly falling in love with it. A religion which requires its adherents to donate 2.5% of their income for good works every year (zakat), what’s not to like about that? I was in a shopping mall in Abu Dhabi where I saw a Zakat terminal. It looks like an ATM. It will calculate how much Zakat you should pay and you can make your payment by cash or card through it. You can even check the status of your zakat account.
Earlier we met with a Foundation who manage zakat endowment funds, generating profits from investing funds given for good works in commercial ventures such as property, putting the revenues into charitable works. They had over $2 billion under management!
Imagine how great that would be in other markets, everybody giving 2.5% of their income to charity, with donation terminals as common as ATMs. With entrepreneurial investment of the huge sums being donated, making even more money for philanthropic activity. Sorry, dreaming there for a minute.
Now if only I could get a drink here….OK there are some drawbacks