UAE: CEO who gave Dh100 million to 1 Billion Meals drive vows to give more to future initiatives

Dubai-based real estate developer wants to motivate others to become charitable


Angel Tesorero

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram


KT photo by Shihab
KT photo by Shihab

Published: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 8:35 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Apr 2023, 8:50 PM

The single largest contributor to the ‘1 Billion Meals Endowment’ has vowed to further contribute to future UAE charitable initiatives and also called on individuals and businesses to give more to the present Ramadan campaign aimed at establishing the largest sustainable food aid fund.

Azizi Developments’ commitment to the ‘1 Billion Meals Endowment’ now stands at a staggering Dh100 million, after announcing early this week an additional Dh50 million to its initial pledge of Dh50 million to the annual drive launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, that kicked off on the first day of Ramadan this year.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times on Friday, Farhad Azizi, CEO of Azizi Developments, said: “We’re giving Dh100 million - one shot - to one initiative. This campaign has touched so many lives. We’ve participated last year (the company gave Dh10 million) and this year. We will also participate in the future.”

Azizi noted global hunger is a major issue, with an estimated 800 million people around the world not having enough food to eat on a daily basis. "The campaign will create a sustainable framework to help those in need around the world," he noted.

‘Help in whatever capacity we can’

Azizi, 38, who moved to Dubai as a young boy and grew up at the feet of his father, Mirwais Azizi, who founded Azizi Group in 1989, said: “It is up to each and every one of us to contribute – in whatever capacity we can – to secure a brighter future in which all of humanity has access to vital, healthy nutrition.

Azizi noted their large contribution to UAE’s food campaign was a natural result of the good fortune they have received. He said: “As a company and a family, we always believe in giving back. The country has given us so much and it is only natural to give back.”

“When we came here more than 30 years ago, my father ran a business with just few million dirhams, today our businesses (trading, banking, real estate development) have grown so much and the family is dealing in multi-billion dirham deals,” he added.

Azizi Developments is a leading real estate developer based in Dubai, with approximately 100 ongoing projects that are to be delivered this year, and more projects in the pipeline, including building the second tallest tower in the UAE after Burj Khalifa. Last year, the company sold a total of over 6,000 units, amounting to Dh5.6 billion.

Not only donations

Azizi reiterated: “The city has given us so much, the leaders helped us so much. It will be a shame to only receive. Our job then is to give back. We are very committed to this city and the country.”

“And it’s not only about giving donations,” added Azizi, explaining: “As a real estate developer, we think and execute how to make communities more beautiful. We create more jobs and give our staff a better work environment. The company is doing well and yet we are still finding ways to make things better.”

“This is the virtue I have learned from my father who has never changed despite being very wealthy. He still lives a humble and simple life. His wealth did not change his character,” he continued.

Other initiatives

Azizi added the latest contribution to the ‘1 Billion Meals Endowment’ campaign is just one of the several endowments under their CSR (corporate social responsibility) portfolio.

He said: “We have been involved in so many initiatives, including sporting activities, women empowerment, medical support, scholarships grants, and more. We have been supporting in the last 6-7 years the Rashid Centre for People of Determination and Dubai Autism Centre. We have built hospitals in Afghanistan for cancer patients as well as dialysis centres and orphanages. We also have scholarships for students to go to various colleges and universities.”

“Our scope of charity work is not only in Dubai but in several countries as well. We have our own Azizi Foundation that is funded solely by our own company,” he continued.

‘Copy a good thing’

Azizi also explained the purpose of announcing their contribution. He shared: “We have been doing a lot of charity work for the longest time – it has been ingrained in our DNA. We’ve always preferred to stay under the radar; we didn’t want to draw any attention. But somebody told us that it was wrong.”

“We were told to make it public as a validation and motivation so many other people will do the same,” noted Aziziz, adding: “That’s why for the last three years, we have been vocal about it (CSR). We’ve been making videos and putting them out on social media. We've been talking to friends, families and other businesses so they can copy a good thing.”

He continued: “We are so proud to be able to speak about this openly and to tell others to please participate in charity work. Myself, my father, the entire family, and the whole company, we all feel good when we give back. When we give, we also motivate others to give in whatever capacity they can – whether it’s Dh100, Dh1,000 or more; whether its personal or corporate – the bottom line is to give, and give more.”


More news from UAE