M. Shafik Gabr, Chairman and Managing Director of the ARTOC Group for Investment & Development, is a renowned leader in international business, one of the world's premier collectors of Orientalist art, and an accomplished philanthropist.
ARTOC Group for Investment Development celebrated 42 years of successful investment activities in November 2013 and is a multi-disciplined investment holding company with subsidiaries operating in the fields of industry, automotive, airport terminals, consumer products, energy, publishing, real estate and construction.
Mr. Gabr is the Chairman and a founding member of Egypt's International Economic Forum, member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum and serves on Yale University President's Council on International Activities. Mr. Gabr is also a Global Leadership Council Member at the Brookings Institution, a member of the Jackson Institute Council and also serves on the Advisory Boards of MIT's Center for International Studies, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Zurich Financial Services, one of the world's leading insurance companies and also Stanhope Capital, LLP.
Mr. Gabr was previously the Chairman of COMESA (Common Market for East and South Africa) Business Council and a member of the Executive Board of the International Chamber of Commerce (Paris). Furthermore, Mr. Gabr was a founder of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt in 1982, serving as its first Egyptian President from 1995 until 1997.
Mr. Gabr ranks among Arabian Business and The Middle East magazines 2012 'Most Influential Arabs' and 'Our Top 50 Arabs'. In 2009 Mr. Gabr was presented with the Foreign Policy Association's (FPA) award for Corporate Responsibility. In 2014 Mr. Gabr was awarded The Meridian Global Citizen Award.
Through the Shafik Gabr Social Development Foundation, Mr. Gabr is helping to improve elementary-school education throughout his native Egypt, introducing students to arts and culture and promoting sports and physical fitness for youth. In the area of higher education, Mr Gabr is the biggest Egyptian supporter of the American University in Cairo. The Foundation also developed a free medical-care system by providing 'Medical Caravans', for residents of underprivileged areas of Greater Cairo. The Foundation is constructing and launching its first Medical and Social Development Center in Mokattam, Cairo in 2014 offering free medical and health services. In 2012 Mr. Gabr established in the US the Shafik Gabr Foundation which supports educational and medical initiatives plus launched in November 2012 the East-West: The Art of Dialogue initiative (see www.eastwestdialogue.org) promoting exchanges between the US and Egypt with the purpose of cultural dialogue and bridge building.
Mr. Gabr holds a BA in Economics and Management from the American University in Cairo and an MA in Economics from the University of London.
East-West: The Art of Dialogue
We live in a world experiencing an increased propensity of challenges, conflict and destabilization with a high cost to human beings and humanity.
As the world moves forward in a framework of constant change and at a higher speed there is a widening gulf of understanding between East and West. This widening gulf can have dire consequences and significant costs that go beyond our present considerations-especially for future generations.
Whilst we are in constant contact via smart phones, e-mail, twitter and various forms of social media we are really living in an anti-social society that is seeding the earth with ingredients of misunderstanding, misperception and fear of the other.
Our world today is consumed by the abbreviated text, the sound bite and photo op. We live in a world where a meeting is a Skype and a conversation is limited to a predetermined number of characters. Whilst we touch our screens more than we touch our friends and loved ones, in reality, we have lost touch.
No wonder the world we live in is one that is both vulnerable and experiencing increased anguish especially between East and West.
As a private citizen and an entrepreneur focused on bridge building and understanding the other, I have been privileged to develop a passion for art-especially art that links East and West.
Orientalism has many dimensions and it has inspired me to initiate via my Foundation to launch the 'East-West: The Art of Dialogue'. This initiative focuses on bringing together young emerging leaders from the East and West, facilitating firsthand knowledge via which both develop and implement collaborative projects.
The results of this initiative born in 2012 can be seen on www.eastwestdialogue.org
The academic world has a lot to offer and much to impact on the issue of East and West finding common ground and having positive collaboration.
A focus on art and culture supported by academic leaders can reinforce private initiatives, social understanding and enhance political leadership to effectively deal with today's increasing challenges.