Even though the United Arab Emirate of Ras al Khaimah has a proud history dating back about seven millennia, its development under the wise political leadership of HH Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi has already become significantly historic. When you consider that Ras al Khaimah is one of the few regions of the UAE that lacks petroleum as a natural resource, it is truly amazing to see how nicely this emirate has become; it does not pale in comparison to its next-door neighbor of Dubai, in fact, you could even say that it is providing healthy competition.
By the time His Highness Saud bin Saqr ascended to the Supreme Council, thus becoming the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, he had already held an administrative post under the supervision of his late father, His Highness Saqr bin Mohammed. The blueprint for the future development of the emirate had already been drawn; in fact, important parts of it had already been executed under the supervision of HH Saud bin Saqr. Since 2010, when his father was called upon by Allah, HH Saud has continued to execute on this noble mission to make Ras al Khaimah one of the friendliest spots in the Middle East for doing business, relocating, doing research, and enjoying traditional Arab hospitality.
One of the greatest accomplishments of His Highness was created before he rose to power. Since 2009, The Policy Research of the Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation has been a shining beacon of R&D and thought leadership for the good of Ras al Khaimah. This foundation is a private organization, but it was established with the deliberate purpose of working together with government agencies to benefit the Ras al Khaimah’s people and the UAE. In other words, the Al Qasimi foundation acts as a profitless partnership between the public and private sectors of the emirate. Even though the foundation was individually established by His Highness, there really isn’t any issue pertaining to conflicts of interest because the charter calls for independent management and operation; moreover, the mission is clear insofar as helping the administration of the emirates make the right decisions.
Partnership With NORRAG
The nature of the Al Qasimi Foundation makes it a very academic organization. Any project that is generated within the foundation must meet certain standards of research; moreover, it must have a high potential of providing a positive impact to the region by means of actionable development. The scope of projects is pretty wide and diverse. As can be imagined, anything dealing with applied science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is enthusiastically received and quickly analyzed for feasibility. The same can be said about projects dealing with socioeconomic growth, which may include the fields of arts and culture.
Given the above description of what the Al Qasimi Foundation does, it should not be surprising to learn of its partnership with NORRAG, which is part of the Graduate Institute of International and Development based in Geneva. Since the mid-1980s, NORRAG has been advocating for the research of effective international policies and possible means of cooperation. With more than 5,000 members around the world, NORRAG is mostly engaged in the publication of valuable information that matters to important members such as non-profit foundations, schools, research centers, think tanks, and government agencies. The membership of NORRAG is split almost 50/50 among individuals and organizations in the global north and south. While most of the cooperation flows from the developed partners to those who work in developing nations, everyone can learn from everyone in the eyes of NORRAG.
Human rights, access to governance, socio-economic development, and ideal governance are all topics within the purview of NORRAG. In the specific case of the Al Qasimi Foundation, we find NORRAG acting as a publication and distribution partner of the NORRAG Special Issue for the Middle East. In this special issue of research articles on the topics of socioeconomic development, a few articles are expertly translated into Arabic from their original publication language, which is invariably English.
There may be people who think that translation is not such a big deal, but those who think this way do not consider how big of a cultural chasm exists between the West and the Arab world. While we can expect that an economist from Ras al Khaimah will certainly learn English at the university, the experience and knowledge he can get from reviewing research literature expertly translated into his own language and script is more than valuable. The translation work facilitated by the NORRAG partnership with the Al Qasimi Foundation is completed by professionals who usually work with United Nations agencies. What this means for the stakeholders reading in Arabic is that they are getting information that has been translated by specialists who understand how to convey the right messages with the right context instead of simply following UN-style guides. This effort also involves editing work and collaboration.
The first project that NORRAG and the Foundation embarked together on was a series of research and observation pieces created around the topics of philanthropic outreach and education. Among the goals sought to be achieved with this project, one of the most important is to illustrate current trends that organizations are following when providing endowments to schools and to education programs in general. When it comes to philanthropy, we tend to think that need follow grants and underwriting, but this is not often the case. Some organizations will directly reach out to potential benefactors with specific ideas, and although the final projects may differ from the initial intent, there is always the question of how the philanthropic endowment and the execution of the projects should have taken place.
It should be noted that this partnership gives the emirate of Ras al Khaimah an opportunity to build diplomatic relationships and international cooperation. When you think about a philanthropist in the Americas learning about how quickly this tiny emirate has achieved positive development in this century, this knowledge is likely to be passed around philanthropic circles, thus promoting an image of thought leadership in the region.