Gulf's $210 bln philanthropy pot expected to grow - study

A money exchange vendor counts United Arab Emirates dirhams at his shop in Beirut, December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

DUBAI, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Philanthropy and charitable donations by private individuals and families in the Gulf Cooperation Council is estimated at $210 billion and expected to grow, said a new report by the University of Cambridge released in Dubai on Tuesday.

Wealthy individuals and family offices in the region are increasingly deploying capital with a focus on social or environmental impact, according to the report on the GCC, which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The growth of more targeted philanthropic investments is being shaped by societal changes, such as generational shifts in family businesses, which dominate the region's private sector.

"As Millenial and Generation Z family members emerge to take the helm of family businesses and philanthropic activities, their aspirations will shape the evolution of the sector in the coming years," said the report, titled "Giving in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)."

The estimate is cumulative, based on several different data sources including declared donations as part of religious obligations and estimates of household wealth, among others.

Authors said lack of available data and cultural attitudes toward the use of wealth for charitable purposes made it difficult to put a precise figure on how big the market is but their research indicated there was significant potential to grow the sector.

"What the study has shown is that there is plenty of opportunity and there is a need to go deeper in this segment," said Prince Max von und zu Liechtenstein, chairman of private banking group LGT, which jointly commissioned the report with the University of Cambridge.

The bank, which manages about $300 billion in assets, is itself family-owned, and sees this as an advantage to increase its philanthropy advisory to family businesses in the Gulf.

He added the bank is focused on investments in sectors that combine financial return with non-financial impact, including education, healthcare and technology to address climate challenges.

Reporting by Rachna Uppal; Editing by Josie Kao

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