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MENAFN - Arab News - 10/10/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Microsoft co-founder turned global philanthropist Bill Gates said the Gulf region could play a key role in fighting poverty and diseases.

He also said he will focus on charity rather than running for US presidency.
"I wouldn't ever choose to run for political office," said Gates at the annual Abu Dhabi Media Summit held in the UAE capital.

By running the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "I don't have to raise political campaigns, I don't have to get elected ... I'm not term limited to eight years," said the US billionaire, but added that he would give "advice" to the president just as he gave to Microsoft.

"Right now, I am spending more of my time and effort to end polio than any other cause. It's the top priority of our foundation," he said in his opening speech at the media gathering.

"We can end polio. And when we do, it will rejuvenate the whole field of global health," he said, adding that the dreaded disease has "dropped more than 99 percent over the last 20 years."

Gates said the foundation he co-chairs has pledged to spend 10 billion in this decade to pay for research and development and delivery of vaccines to the poorest children in the world.

"One of the things that makes the Gulf region so special is the way tradition and change exist side by side," said Gates. "You combine rising prosperity and a commitment to education with a deep custom of charity, in keeping with the teachings of Islam."

In his address, Gates also said:
"This region's prosperity and generosity have made you an important player in the world's humanitarian efforts, and there are several emerging factors that I believe will make the giving here even more effective.
"We know that the most powerful leverage in philanthropy comes through technology and innovation. This is the great power of philanthropy - to invest in the innovations that the private market ignores because the people who benefit can't pay. The highest-impact, most-neglected area of human ingenuity is innovations for the poor. Whether it's through vaccines that can save lives, or health tools that reduce infant deaths, or new seeds that get six times the yield in harsher conditions - innovations for the poor are the pivot that can change the world.

"And the UAE is making massive new investments in technology and innovation. Khalifa University is producing the first Emirati nuclear and biomedical engineers trained here on home soil. Abu Dhabi is sponsoring the Masdar Initiative, gathering business and research universities to focus on renewable energy.

"As you deepen your research into technology, I want to exhort you to do something that the West largely neglected to do for a very long time. For too long, we in the West worked almost exclusively to develop and apply technology to meet the needs of the rich world, only for those who could pay. As you grow into a world hub for research, I hope you constantly search for ways to apply technology to help people who can't pay.

"There is one more factor that will help this region play a growing role in world's humanitarian work. The media. This region is home to deep innovators in the field of media. And focused, continuous media coverage is key in any effort to improve the lives of the poor.

"The media here reach the wealthy, who should know about the lives of the poorest. And the media also reach the poorest, who should know about the threat of disease and the power of vaccines. "The great cultural tradition in Islam already makes this region a natural leader in solving the problems of the poor. Your rising prosperity and technological skill gives you the power to advance the humanitarian agenda. Your innovative new media gives you a chance to raise your voice for the poor - and change the world for everyone.

You have a phenomenal opportunity. Skeptics will tell you that nothing will change - that poverty ahs always been with us. But I am optimistic - because these new tools and technologies have not always been with us - and that is why the future can be better than the past," said Gates.


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