Why do I go? I’m going mainly to learn. Ever since I began coming to the Gulf region back when I was still working full-time at Microsoft, I’ve been impressed with the pace of progress there. I’ve been visiting the Gulf more often since I began devoting most of my time to the foundation’s work, and I see change accelerating every time I visit. It’s been amazing to watch. I’ve formed some good friendships and gained a better understanding of the region.
I’ve been especially impressed by the young leaders I’ve met. They’re gifted, but also humble. They care deeply about their land and people, but they’re also very concerned about the rest of the world. They cherish their rich history and cultures, but they’re very determined to prepare for and shape the future. One of the things that makes this region so special is the way tradition and change exist side by side. What makes it unique is that Gulf leaders have both the will and the resources to achieve big, bold goals for improving the health and livelihoods of millions of people.
With partners in the Gulf, our foundation has given more than $2 billion for programs in Muslim countries—programs that save lives and create opportunity. Our partners in the Gulf deserve a lot of credit for the success of these programs, not just because of their financial contributions but also because of their knowledge of the region and its cultures—knowledge that helps these programs execute well.
I’m excited that, while I’m in Jeddah, I’ll be officially announcing the partnership between the Islamic Development Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and I’ll be holding a Town Hall meeting with Islamic Development Bank staff to commemorate that. And, I’m looking forward to taking part in His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s Majlis in Abu Dhabi tomorrow.
It’s inspiring to work with partners who believe, as we do, that we can make the world a better place for everyone, especially those who struggle the most. Together, we can have much greater impact.