Though no thanks to America

Since Sept. 11, the US has viewed Arab donors with a suspicious eye, accusing them of using their money to fund madrassahs or terrorist training camps. After the attacks, for example, US officials pressured Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to set up rules that restrict charitable giving.

During the recent Dubai conference, a Saudi businessman complained that American investigators met with him 11 times over the past several years to examine his donations. No explanation was given, he said, and there was no official framework to make complaints.

Such scrutiny and below-the-radar efforts hurt philanthropy. Aside from government scrutiny of giving, Arab philanthropy has also been criticized because it simply may come from a donor with a different viewpoint from the recipient's.

In 2001, Rudolph Giuliani rejected a $10 million gift from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud to help victims of terrorist attacks.

The message to Arab philanthropists was clear: Your money's no good here.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, for instance, is providing college scholarships for Arab students to attend Ivy League schools in America. Speaking of Arab teenagers, Nabil Ali Alyousuf, acting chief executive of the Al Maktoum Foundation, put it best: "We either educate them or we leave them to poverty, no education, and potential extremism."

[Excerpt of an article by Ian Wilhelm, The Christian Science Monitor]

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