Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an essential business management concept in all the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Middle East, but approaches to it differ from one country to another, depending on the system of governance and the applied economic reform strategies. In some countries, the focus is on cases related to the business world, while in others, CSR responds to the requirements of society.
There is no doubt that the gradual change in the role of governance has highlighted the need to develop CSR from work with special, voluntary and charitable purposes to a developmental and regular action that leaves sustainable impact and supports social and economic development plans. Educational initiatives and youth empowerment and employment through projects supported by private companies have increased in the Gulf countries and the Middle East region and turned from simple charitable and donation activity to sustainable development action.
Recently, many private sector companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have started undertaking sustainable CSR initiatives. The Red Sea Mall (RSM) in Jeddah, for example, has been involved in a series of sustainable charity and social projects over the past few years.
Red Sea Mall General Manager Eng. Al Rayan Gadouri explains: “CSR is no longer about participation in charitable work and organization of volunteering campaigns. It now involves responsibility towards the community through various development projects and awareness programs that contribute to sustainability. Supporting programs that have social impact, encouraging volunteers, and enabling the non-profit sector to access sustainable sources of finance are among the foundations of Saudi Vision 2030 as it pertains to the social impact of the business sector.”
Red Sea Mall (RSM) was one of the private sector companies that embarked on CSR initiatives at an early stage. The mall’s pioneering CSR vision went beyond participation in charitable work and organization of volunteering work to include active involvement in the sustainable development of the communities where the mall operates. In more than one CSR initiative, RSM demonstrated its responsibility towards the development of the society, engaging stakeholders, focusing on urgent development needs, and operating within a transparent and ethical framework.
RSM initiatives include “Abna al Khair”, which the mall launches in Ramadan every year, and the Productive Families initiative, which has become a valuable platform for low-income productive families. The latter initiative promotes hand-made work and advances development, as it encourages productive families to showcase their various products and handicrafts. In addition, RSM organized job fair to create opportunities for young people to meet with business owners. Hundreds of direct employments were arranged through the fair. These are only some of many other CSR initiatives aimed towards sustainability and active contribution to the development of the local community.
RSM also organizes various recreational and national events throughout the year. It also sponsors and supports awareness campaigns, which makes the mall the main shopping and entertainment destination for Jeddah residents and visitors. The mall owners are committed to the sustainable development of the Saudi society and to the promotion of the sense of citizenship among Saudi youth of both genders.