On December 17, the UAE mourned the loss of a precious pillar in the Emirati society, Majid Al Futtaim- a man who spent his life in the service of his nation and community. He was not only a forward-thinking businessman investor but also generated lakhs of hundreds of direct and indirect jobs across the UAE, Africa, and Asia, rejuvenating whole communities with his unique and many shopping malls, retail, and leisure offerings. A groundbreaking UAE leader and a pioneer in charitable and humanitarian work, no wonder many refer to him as the ‘Treasure of the UAE’.
Building an Empire From Ground-Up
Starting from humble beginnings, working as a bank clerk, the inspiring entrepreneur worked tirelessly towards turning his purpose and vision of “creating moments for everyone, every day” and turning it into reality.
He went on to establish the Majid Al Futtaim group in 1992 and soon built his empire to become the third wealthiest businessman. With over $4.2 billion personal net wealth, his group today runs over 300 Carrefour stores across three continents, managing 29 malls and 13 hotels. The company announced $8.9 billion in group revenue in 2020. The enterprising leader brought to life the first mega-mall in the Middle East- the Deira City Center Mall, brought skiing to Dubai, and with all of it brought a world of leisure and entertainment delights to the UAE.
Champion of Change and Good
It was heartening to see how the empowering entrepreneur supported social welfare through a series of community initiatives.
His teams worked towards increasing awareness towards underprivileged children amongst customers, asking them if they’re willing to donate for a noble cause. His objective was to provide great moments for children in need during festive seasons, which transcended in the work that he and his company weaved.
Another important initiative by the businessman was his contributions towards supporting the workforce in the UAE and initiatives focused on improving their health and safety standards. The internal initiative ranged from distributing care packages with everyday essentials from Carrefour to health checks for blood pressure and general medical consultation for all members of staff.
Natural Disaster Response was yet another instrumental campaign that was conducted during the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Nepal. To cater to the unfortunate series of events that occurred, within days of the earthquake, Carrefour launched a donation drive in partnership with Emirates Red Crescent to support the victims in Nepal by dedicating shelf stands with a range of specially selected products, including long-lasting and high energy foods, hygiene products and shelter blankets sold at heavily discounted price pricing for customers to participate in the disaster response assistance.
Health and well-being were always at the heart of the initiatives that Majid Al Futtaim pioneered. A case in point has to be the month-long initiative launched to raise awareness on cardiovascular health with a special focus on women wherein a Regional Health Awareness platform was conceptualized in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Health in 14 malls across five countries.
All shopping malls allocated areas to host medical professionals who administered complimentary testing and conducted checkups to raise awareness of cardiovascular health.
At each of these designated locations, visitors could check their body mass index to determine if they are at risk for heart disease. In addition, the initiative allowed people to delve over if they should follow up with more extensive examination, encouraging the focus on giving back and enabling visitors to contribute to society collectively.
Spreading Smiles and Love
The benevolent changemaker’s contribution towards children was particularly memorable. It was reassuring to look at how Majid Al Futtaim partnered with the Marwa Fayed Toy Run, a charity organization that collects and donates toys in Egypt and around the world and Hamleys, with an aim to donate over 10,000 toys to the underprivileged community.
Furthermore, time and again, the visionary showcased his role as a responsible member of the community through partnerships with House of Cocoa, Mall of Egypt, and City Center Almaza. As a part of this, a designated booth was present exclusively at each mall’s center court, where for every purchase made at the stand, 20% of the proceeds were donated to ‘Save A Human’, a charity organization that provides the homeless with essential shelter and care. To spread its wings, his company also opened CSR-driven initiatives and donations to the public allowing mall visitors to participate, contribute and donate through the month of Ramadan and be the change-makers in transforming lives.
Spreading joy for all seemed central to the ethos of the humanitarian leader. His notable contributions that still live on and the memories he brought to people’s lives, working towards the well-being of the society, will be engraved in the hearts and minds of generations to come.