Some businessmen might make their fortune and invest it wisely; some might invest it unwisely; and still others of course might spend much it. However, not all will choose to donate their money – or their time – to charitable and humanitarian causes.
One such uncommon philanthropist is the Iraqi-born British entrepreneur, Sir Nadhmi Auchi, whose business group General Mediterranean Holding SA represents a strong and diverse multi-national organisation with activities in banking and finance, real estate, construction, hotel and leisure, industrial, trading, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and aviation.
Sir Nadhmi has spent over forty years in international business. He moved to Britain in 1980 and gained British citizenship nine years later, but he has never lost sight of his Arab roots, nor of the common people of both his natural and adopted countries. He is a passionate campaigner for the dissemination and exchange of information about Arabic and English cultures and civilizations, and for the integration of British Arabs into mainstream British society whilst at the same time retaining their identity. To this end, in 2002 he became the founding President of the not-for-profit Anglo Arab Organisation, whose main purpose is to foster greater understanding between people of Arab origin and their adopted societies.
Sir Nadhmi believes strongly that the problems of the Middle East cannot be solved by governments alone. There is consequently a vital role for non-governmental organisations, charities, religious and humanitarian bodies in creating an atmosphere in which differences can be resolved peacefully and in which economic development can lay the foundations of political stability. For these reasons he has funded major construction projects in Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan and has a played an influential behind-the-scenes role in organising the release of French, British and Italian hostages in Iraq.
Education and research have figured prominently in Sir Nadhmi’s lengthy list of charitable interests. These include the creation of a fellowship for young Arabs studying business management and leadership, for which in October 2007 he was presented with the Presidential Award by the President of the American University of Cairo.
He also has a long-standing interest in and support for medical science and patient care. In London, more than 200 people each week are treated at Hammersmith Hospital’s acute haemodialysis unit, the biggest provider of dialysis treatment in Europe. The state-of-the-art unit, which was funded by Sir Nadhmi and proudly bears the name of its benefactor, has improved standards of treatment and survival rates and is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world. Other major contributions include the Kingston Hospital Cancer Appeal and the Royal Society of Medicine, on whose Court of Benefactors he has served since 2009.
Sir Nadhmi says he endeavours to contribute to charitable and humanitarian concerns in all of the countries in which he does business. “I believe that business does have ethical responsibilities,” he states. “I also believe that business should do in its own interests what it should do for ethical reasons. A shrewd businessman makes sure that, at the end of the day, all those involved feel that they have been given a fair deal.”