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December 08, 2015

Gates Sees Low Oil Prices Hampering Anti-Poverty Efforts in the Gulf

Traveling in the Gulf states to raise money for a $2.5 billion fund to tackle poverty in the Muslim world, Bill Gates said the global plunge in oil prices is having an impact on the effort, Reuters reports. But the billionaire philanthropist said a burgeoning culture of giving in the region could counter the impact of the oil decline.

The Islamic Development Bank, based in Saudi Arabia, has promised $2 billion in loans if the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation raises $500 million to reduce poverty and disease in 30 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The fundraising effort is focused on wealthy Gulf states that Mr. Gates said "are having to prioritize both domestic and internationally things they do" as a result of low oil prices. Brent crude was trading at $42.80 a barrel Monday, down 60 percent since mid-2014.

"It would be easier if oil was $100 a barrel," Mr. Gates told Reuters on Sunday. But he said he hears "a lot of enthusiasm" when he talks to potential donors in the region, and he noted his foundation's partnership with Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who pledged in July to give his $32 billion fortune to charity over his lifetime.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article about Prince Al-Waleed's charity pledge.