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Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber awarded Honorary Fellowship by UCL (University College London)

H.E Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber receives his Honorary Fellowship of UCL (University College London) from Sir Stephen Wall, Chair of UCL Council.

His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, founder and patron of the MBI Al Jaber Foundation, has been presented with an Honorary Fellowship of UCL (University College London) at a Graduation Ceremony presided over by Sir Stephen Wall, Chair of the UCL Council.

Presenting the Honorary Fellowship to Sheikh Mohamed, Professor Michael Worton, Vice-Provost (International), gave the citation as follows:

His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber has achieved breathtaking success as a businessman. His genius expresses itself in real estate, in the leisure and resort industries, in food and in oil and gas.

His influence extends from the Middle East, across Europe and to the USA. He is the founder and chairman of MBI International, and his wisdom and uncanny feel for market trends mean that he is a figure who enjoys worldwide respect.

Time and again, he has proved himself to be a master of the unexpected – and a clear-sighted forecaster of what only he perceives to be the expected. At one point, he predicted the dangerous overheating of the world economy and warned against what he called the “illusion of wealth”. How right he was. He has been fearless in his advocacy of transparency and good government, and in his criticisms of both western and Arab regimes when they fell short of those ideals.

Characteristic of his business acumen is his ability to cross frontiers between different countries, continents and cultures. This ability to move across demarcation lines, to make links, to think outside the box, has given him a marvellous openness of spirit and an ability to respond to the people he meets – particularly to young people.

One colleague stresses that time and again, in the receptions that follow the high-profile lectures that he has been giving since the early 2000s, Sheikh Mohamed spends most of his time surrounded by students, answering questions, encouraging them. He is then, intensely interested in education; since the mid-nineties he has donated hundreds of millions to international institutions, particularly those devoted to education. Many are universities and include SOAS, Corpus Christi College Oxford, City, Westminster and UCL.

He cares passionately about women’s education and has created many scholarship programmes. He believes with every fibre of his being that education can produce greater understanding between different cultures – especially between the Arab world and the west.

He once urged a group of graduating students to make their contribution to a better world. “Don’t leave it all to the politicians,” he said. He has engaged himself in the work of UNESCO – as special envoy for Education, Human Rights, Tolerance and Culture – and for the UN as spokesperson for Global Forums and Reinventing Government.

He is proud of Arab culture, and it distresses him that so much of the information about the Arab mentality that reaches the west nowadays is negative and hate-filled. As he once commented ruefully, “The information revolution has not yet led to a revolution in understanding.” It is a regrettable fact of our world that it seems unable to exist without narratives of conflict. It is his mission to inflect such narratives in the direction of mutual understanding and enrichment, and a delight in plurality.

Mr Chairman, I present to you someone who truly takes to heart E. M. Forster’s injunction “only connect”, His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber.’

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