Support to culture in Africa, Latin America and Asia is not the preserve of governments. Large private funds with their own cultural policy operate worldwide. Their strategies are less coloured by political considerations and stem from socially responsible entrepreneurship or philanthropic ideals. Part five.
Karim Rida Said was a small boy who died in an accident in the swimming pool of the Saudi Arabian Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Al Saud in 1981. His wealthy father, Syrian businessman Wafic Rida Said, established a foundation in his son's name a year later. This foundation organises charity programmes for economically challenged children and youths in the Middle East. The Karim Rida Said Foundation, with offices in London and Damascus, has three main areas of focus: education, development and culture. The foundation is primarily active in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Syria.
The educational programme chiefly awards study grants to Arab students wanting to study at a British university. Improved education and healthcare for children, as well as increasing security and helping children with a handicap are the objectives of the development programmes in which the foundation cooperates with partner organisations in the Middle East.
With its culture programme, the Karim Rida Said Foundation not only strives to increase understanding of the Arab culture and the Islam, but also reflects how Arabs have contributed to Western culture. The British Museum in London is one of the major partners with which the foundation has set up a culture-educational programme, with symposia about topics including Syrian archaeology and expositions of Arab art.
With the Al-Jana Center in Beirut, which uses literature and film to increase the esteem and cultural awareness of Palestinian children in Lebanon, the foundation organised a multi-media project. Children made films that were subsequently shown in their community and then toured Lebanon. The Freedom Theatre in the Palestinian refugee camp Jenin also received equipment for cultural productions. In London, the Karim Rida Said Foundation supports the Palestinian film festival and the art centre ArtSchool Palestine.