From education for the less fortunate to the recovery and restoration of ancient texts
by Margherita Chiara Immordino Tedesco
Showing off doesn’t add to your name, fame or reputation. Only weak and shaky people have to brag” – Juma Al Majid
The United Arab Emirates and the whole world celebrate a man, a great man, who, starting from a small port, has managed to conquer an ocean. This is Juma al Majid, famous philanthropist and businessman, who has been able to build a commercial empire, succeeding over the years in sublimating the concept of charity, pillar of Islam, building schools for boys and girls, giving the possibility of a school education to children of low-income families. Juma Al Majid is the founder and president of the Juma Al Majid group of companies, which includes more than 40 companies worldwide.
About 30 years ago, oil collapsed and for many families the economic and social situation became difficult; the Gulf States decided that they could no longer provide subsidised education to refugee and expatriate families in the Emirates. Lower incomes, higher tuition fees and a large number of students were not allowed into public schools. So in 1983 H.E. Al Majid established the “National Charity Schools” to help students in need, allowing them to get a free education.
Initially, Juma al Majid opened two Khansa Girls Primary Schools and the Salah al-Din School in the Deira district of Dubai in 1986, the first for girls and the second for boys. Subsequently, the Garhoud branch was opened, then other branches were opened in Sharjah and Ajman, allowing two school shifts, one in the morning and one in the evening. Today, the number of children attending classes now exceeds 9000 students, poor students continue to enjoy a free education, while others are required to pay a minimum fee.
For Juma al Majid the growth of a nation is closely related to the cultural development of its people and its literacy. According to UNESCO estimates, about 80 million illiterates currently live in Arab countries, most of them in Egypt. In its revolutionary institutional initiatives, Juma al Majid has also paid particular attention to women, allowing so far an education to 2,700 women, with lessons, books and transport totally free, even giving financial aid to them, when the economic possibilities of families were precarious.
It was not the first or even the last time that the famous philanthropist, in his holy generosity, helped the less fortunate to achieve a proper education. In the early 1950s, he participated with Humaid Al Tayer, Abdullah Al Ghurair, Nasir Rashed Loutah, with the consent of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in the creation of the first charity to help the needy in Dubai. They managed to found two secondary schools, one for boys in Bur Dubai, called Jamal Abdul Nasser Secondary School, the second for girls in Bur Deira, called Amna Secondary Schools.
In the 1980s, when he founded the “National Charity Schools” project, the visionary businessman held the position of vice president of the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates. Later in 1990, Al Majid, along with Al Gaz and other local philanthropists, founded the Beit Al Khair Society, a charitable organization that aims to help poor citizens, needy students, as well as offering money or goods to disaster victims.
He is currently president of the Dubai Economic Council, founder and president of the Islamic and Arabic Studies College of Dubai, president of the Beit Al Khair Society, and founder and president of the “Juma AI Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage”, where thanks to his great passion for ancient books he has sanctioned his greatest significant contribution to Arab culture in the world.
In fact, in 1991, the famous philanthropist created a public library that soon became a reference point for researchers and scholars. Over the years, the library has grown and expanded at an astonishing pace, becoming a cultural organization that bears his name – The Juma Al Majid Center for Culture and Heritage. Today, it has become the hub for learning, history, literature, culture and education, ensuring that the rich literary heritage of the Arab world, Islamic world and the entire world is preserved for future generations. To do this, Juma Al Majid, together with his specialists in the field, searched the entire world for Arabic and Islamic manuscripts, whether they were original or copies.
The centre then developed the Al Majid restoration machine, which restores damaged manuscripts under practically original conditions and protects them from further corrosion and decay, distributing them free of charge to literary restoration centres in more than 14 countries.
Thanks to Dr Abdallah Raweh, a world-renowned surgeon, soon the projects for the recovery and restoration of ancient books will also arrive in Italy, in the Vatican library. Dr. Raweh, Arab by birth but Italian by adoption, is famous throughout the world for his humanitarian actions, and his free interventions for children with heart problems and malformations, complex interventions, for the benefit of families who otherwise could not afford them.
In the Arab world, Professor Raweh returns regularly to carry out a humanitarian programme with the support of the Emirates Red Cross and the foundation of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid. In a previous article, we told about the Doctor’s humanitarian actions, which continue unabated.
A.Raweh was awarded by Pope Francis and his hands were blessed by the Pope himself. Dr. Raweh said: “He is a wise man, Pope Francis and humanly special”…
Pope Francis blesses the hands of heart surgeon Abdallah Raweh
To date, the Juma Al Majid Center for Culture and Heritage has received books and manuscripts from institutions as diverse as Harvard University, the National Theatre Library of Sharjah and the Mitsubishi, and has thousands of manuscripts from around the world that are now preserved in digital form.
Attracting a wide range of supporters, including Abdulla Abdulla Abdul Majid, Salim Al Zarkali, Afif Bahnasi, Jamil Salibia, Abdel Rahman Attieh, Hamad Bouchehab, Dr. Abdullah Al-Jubouri, Haitham Al Kilani and Sidqi Ismail, the center has been named by the Arab League, the best library in the Arab world.
His passion and commitment to the preservation of literature and works has earned him numerous awards, including the King Faisal International Prize for Service of Islam (1990); the Egyptian President’s International Prize for Personality for Heritage Culture and Service; the Prize for Cultural Personality of the Year at the Qareen Cultural Festival in Kuwait (2005); the Tarem Omran Cultural Prize for Enterprise (2007); and the Sultan Bin Ali Cultural Prize.
Juma Al Majid has also won the King Faisal Award, the Al Ber Award from His Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, a certificate from the University of St. Petersburg, the Sharjah Award for Volunteering, the Taryam Omran Award and the Sultan Al Owais Cultural Award.
“I consider myself responsible for saving the books of the world, be it Islamic, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish or any other. They are ultimately the property of humanity as a whole and must be saved, wherever it may be. The looting and burning of books is a crime similar to the killing of the soul. It doesn’t matter where it happens in the world. – Juma Al Majid
Recently, the Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA, Dubai International Holy Quran Award), named Juma Al Majid as Islamic personality of the year 1440H / 2019. (DIHQA, Dubai International Holy Quran Award). On that occasion His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Emir of Dubai declared: “Brother Juma Al Majid is one of the main philanthropists of the United Arab Emirates. His generous support for education is recognized in the United Arab Emirates and in the Arab and Islamic worlds. He deserves pride and honor. ”
With Juma Al Majid, culture and education emerge from the sands of the desert, as pillars of a temple devoted to the growth of a wonderful country, like Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and all of the same Islamic religion.