Nobel for a noble cause: The Saudi connection

Prof. Abhijit Banerjee, co-founder of Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), speaks during an event organized by Community Jameel in Dubai, in this file picture. — Courtesy photo

Khalid Aftab

JEDDAH — Saudi Arabia has been in the forefront in the fight against poverty. Its contribution to a noble cause has been enormous, particularly in Yemen and in African and Asian countries.

Apart from the state’s leading role, Saudi citizens in their personal capacity have also joined hands in addressing global challenges, but unfortunately, the Saudi humanitarian efforts have either been underreported or unreported in the international media.

One such case in point is the announcement on Monday of the Nobel Prize for Economics. The prestigious award has been bagged by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their pioneering new ways to alleviate global poverty.

As soon as the announcement was made, the international media went to great lengths to cover all aspects of the award and the awardees but failed to highlight the Saudi connection to the honor.

As a matter of fact, two of the three recipients, Banerjee and Duflo, were honored for their work through the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, known as J-PAL and other innovative and scientific models for poverty alleviation.

Founded in 2003 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States by professors Banerjee, Duflo, and Sendhil Mullainathan, the lab was named in honor of Abdul Latif Jameel, the father of MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel and founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel company in 2005.

J-PAL serves as a global network of antipoverty researchers who conduct field experiments and it has now become a major center of research, facilitating work across the world.

The lab receives substantial support from Community Jameel, an organization established in 2003 to continue the Jameel family's tradition of supporting social and economic sustainability.