Social Responsibility Summary

When it comes to social responsibility, the Middle East Centre has created a regional programme focusing on social, humanitarian, and environmental issues, providing the opportunity for students and alumni, corporate partners and other friends of Alliance Manchester Business School and the University to engage and support, teach and learn, or even volunteer. The regional programme was given a special focus during celebrations for the Centre’s 15th anniversary and the energy and momentum has been maintained.

The ‘15 for 15’ programme (15 social responsibility projects for the 15th anniversary of the Centre, in 2021-22) continues to develop through working relationships with social responsibility partners including Dubai Cares, Emirates Marine Environmental Group, SOS Villages, Sparkle Foundation, Emirates Red Crescent, The Big Heart Foundation, DGrade, Dubai Blood Donation Centre, Dubai Wildlife Protection Office, among others.

The Centre has also initiated its own plant-a-tree programme across the region with support from local alumni/associations. 15 trees were planted in Dubai International Academic City in the presence of Professor Fiona Devine CBE, Dean of Alliance Manchester Business School, staff members and alumni ambassadors, to mark the 15th anniversary of the Centre. The regional tree planting campaign has covered seven countries in the GCC and wider Middle East, thanks to the initiative and energy of local alumni.

Students, alumni, and staff regularly join mangrove planting, beach cleaning activities in Dubai, organised by Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG), which works on marine wildlife conservation in the UAE. EMEG’s mission is to protect marine wildlife populations and advance research, education, and conservation of UAE marine ecosystems by building a framework where science meets education. Mangroves are an important part of the UAE’s ecosystem and protect the coastlines from erosion, provide a breeding ground for fish species, and help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Centre has collaborated with EMEG to plant 1,000 mangrove bushes through special events involving the AMBS regional community and visiting guests from campus, including Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (President and Vice Chancellor, The University of Manchester) and Professor Fiona Devine (Head of School), and other members of the Senior Leadership Team.

The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project involves rescuing injured sea turtles and providing medical care before releasing them back into their natural habitat with a satellite tracking instrument to monitor their movements and well-being. Over 1,600 endangered turtles have been rehabilitated with support from the Middle East Centre.

Another new initiative with SOS Children’s Villages International Gulf Area Office (SOS) was launched to encourage the recycling of plastic and support the concept of the circular economy - an extruder and shredder which can be used in small villages where plastics can be recycled into valuable and usable items for everyday life. The aim is to inspire young people to recognize the importance of recycling and support youth employability and entrepreneurship.

One of the most impactful and enduring social responsibility programs has been created with Dubai Cares, a civil society organization formally associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications, and the project to build a new school in Nepal as part of Dubai Cares’ ‘Adopt a School’ initiative. The project has involved the University’s regional community of students and alumni in successfully fundraising to support the project, and a 3-D visualization of the new school was unveiled at a special event. The school adopted by the Middle East Centre in Nepal will include three classrooms that can accommodate up to 90 students, which in turn, will provide thousands of children with easy access to quality education. The Centre reached the fundraising target in 2022, thanks to generous donations from students and alumni.

Charitable giving is an integral part of the regional culture, and the Centre activates the regional community of students and alumni during special periods of the year, such as the Holy Month of Ramadan when charitable acts are especially appropriate. For example, Middle East Centre students, alumni, staff, and friends volunteer their time to pack Iftar food boxes for distribution within the local community, in support of the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) Iftar Project.

Food is a constant theme, and the Centre has supported a range of activities, often linked with Ramadan - Food Scheme Project (donation of food items to support needy families); Food Basket Initiative; and the 100 Million free meals and One Billion Meals campaigns providing secure food aid for vulnerable communities in countries around the region and beyond, coordinated with the Food Banking Regional Network and UN World Food Programme. Labour Camp Iftar Boxes Distribution involved Middle East Centre staff, students, and alumni visiting a Labour Camp in Ramadan 2023 to distribute 200 Iftar boxes.

The Centre’s humanitarian work covers a range of partnership and activities such as The Big Heart Foundation’s Clothing Initiative for Children in Need, and Beit Al Khair’s Food Scheme projects, which the Centre has supported.

Regional workshops provide the opportunity for students (and alumni and other friends of the Centre) to volunteer to give blood, thanks to Dubai Blood Donation Centre which parks its mobile clinic conveniently close to the workshops venue. Other public health awareness support includes the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign with ‘Pink Caravan’ to provide free breast screening and mammograms.

Hope is another consistent theme across many of the social responsibility partners and their activities. Sahem for Hope, an initiative by AMBS alumni, provides food packages for individuals in need. The partnership with Senses Residential Day Care Centre focuses on projects for children with special needs. Circle of Hope promotes 'Love for Literacy' in children's wards in local hospitals through virtual reading sessions with staff, students, and alumni. Beacon of Hope brings literacy to impoverished children and focuses on the UN’s SDGs - Good Health & Well-Being, Quality Education, and Clean & Safe Energy.

With SOS Children’s Villages, the team helped raise funds for the Syria humanitarian appeal in support of vulnerable children and families affected by the earthquakes in and around Aleppo, Syria. The humanitarian appeal aimed at serving 25,000 affected persons with a focus on emergency aid, evacuation, emergency relocation, psychological support, and strengthening families.

During an outreach programme in Egypt, representatives of the Middle East Centre visited The Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357 - the largest paediatric oncology hospital in the world – and met some of the inspiring young patients, families, and staff. The team shared gifts of toys with the children and learned more about their challenges and needs, and their inspiring strengths. The Centre aims to develop a relationship with the hospital, which relies entirely on donations and provides family-centred patient care and services, free of charge.

Social responsibility continues to provide a focal point for the Middle East Centre and regional community to take positive steps and make an impact and a difference, together in the region and beyond. For example, the Centre supports the education sponsorship of 10 children through a nursery programme organized by social responsibility partner, The Sparkle Foundation.

Close working relationships with social responsibility partners are key, and the Centre took the opportunity to recognize these partners and their work with a special ceremony attended by Professor Fiona Devine in Dubai.