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Business School receives £15 million donation from Syrian “arms deal fixer”

The Saïd Business School has accepted a donation from Wafic Saïd to help build the new Global Leadership Centre – a vast teaching and residential facility.

Saïd, who founded the business school, also helped to facilitate the al-Yamamah deal between the British and Saudi governments in the 1980s. It was the biggest export deal in British history, generating £43 billion in revenue for the British multinational defence, aerospace, and security company BAE Systems.

Saïd has been described as a ‘key fixer’ who ‘helped broker’ the deal by The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.  

The Vice-Chancellor, Louise Richarson, said: “I would like to express our deep appreciation to Wafic Saïd for his generous and visionary support of this exciting project.”

Mr Saïd said: “The Saïd Business School’s success and impact on global business practice has surpassed even my most ambitious dreams.

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to support the School as it embarks on the next chapter of its remarkable story with the Global Leadership Centre.”

The Saïd Business School told Cherwell: “When the business school was established in 1996, as a result of a landmark donation from Mr Saïd, the relevant committees of the University of Oxford gave careful consideration to the original gift proposal and concluded that it was entirely appropriate to accept this funding. That remains the case today with this subsequent donation.

“Mr Saïd continues to be a generous benefactor to the School through the Saïd Foundation which provides charitable grants to support a range of initiatives and we are very grateful for his ongoing support.”

The Guardian wrote that from the proceeds of al-Yamamah “[British] Police later calculated that more than £6bn may have been distributed in corrupt commissions, via an array of agents and middlemen.”

The new project will be built on the site of Oxford’s first power station, Osney, which has a “scenic waterside setting.” Its facilities will include 121 bedrooms, flexible classrooms with an associated breakout space, a gym and exercise studio, and a library area.

Building work is scheduled to begin in early 2020.

Saïd, the Saïd Business School, and the University were contacted for comment.

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