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Ride to fame
The Abdul Latif Jameel Group, long a force to be reckoned with in the region’s auto dealership industry, is making considerable inroads farther afield, reports Trends magazine.
March 17, 2009 10:16 by Ehtesham Shahid
Touch of humanity
If the auto dealership has brought recognition to ALJ, philanthropic work has earned it respect. One of ALJ’s important social initiatives has been enhancing entrepreneurship in the region. The group claims that Bab Rizq Jameel – an Abdul Latif Jameel Community Service Program – created 15,342 job opportunities (69 percent for women) in Saudi Arabia during the first half of 2008. Bab Rizq Jameel also engages more than 8,000 women in the “productive household program,” which provides interest-free loans of up to 150,000 Saudi riyals ($40,000) to start their own micro projects from home.
ALJ’s Mohammed Jameel has won laurels for such examples of his philanthropic work. In 2004, the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) – the business-led development organization founded by Britain’s Prince Charles – elected him honorary deputy chairman of its board of trustees and chairman of IBLF Middle East. As the head of the first Arab company to be represented on the IBLF board as its principal supporter, Jameel was invited to become a trustee of the London-based IBLF.
The group also has a partnership with Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus’ Grameen Foundation to alleviate poverty through microfinance in the Arab world. The group has pledged $50 million in loan guarantees to be used in the Arab World. That’s besides an annual million-dollar donation it grants to support scientific research in the Arab World. In 2005, ALJ launched a media campaign to help change young Saudis’ perceptions of young certain jobs, and to encourage them to open businesses.
On a personal level, Mohammed Jameel has proved to be a worthy successor to his father and has successfully continued his legacy. Twenty-seven years after he received his civil engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 2005 Mohammed Jameel extended an endowment to the institute’s center for the study of poverty eradication.
The center was subsequently named Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in honor of his father. It aims to serve “as a focal point for the development of po-verty research … to improve the effectiveness of poverty programs by providing scientists with clear scientific results.”
But nothing seems to give the company more satisfaction than its omnipotent Toyota-Lexus dealership. Toyota sold more than 4.8 million vehicles in the first half of 2008, up 2 percent from the same period last year. ALJ will bask in that reflected glory.
And for “ex-ALJites” such as Patrick Samaha, the group represents a training ground where inspiration and perspiration combine to court success. In Sa-maha’s words, “Whosoever has worked at ALJ has done well thereafter. It is like going to a great university.”
First seen in Trends Magazine.