Eva Longoria

The actress Eva Longoria visited Dubai recently for a star-studded Global Gift Gala event, which saw celebrities perform to raise money for local and international charitable causes. She talks to Vision about the importance of philanthropy and Dubai

I love Dubai. I was here two years ago and it’s amazing how much it has changed. The exponential growth that happens here and the efficiency of the infrastructure is amazing. The streets are very clean and the people are so nice. I feel like I’m in a fantasy world.

I want to congratulate Dubai for World Expo 2020. I think I’m good luck because I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico the day they announced Condé Nast Traveler’s Best City in the World 2013. And then I came here and Dubai won the Expo bid. Mabrouk!

If you help a woman, you help a community. The key to economic mobility within the Latino population – because we are disproportionately living in poverty in the US – is education

There are a lot of generous people in Dubai. The culture here is to help and support each other. If we can take that mentality and apply it worldwide – because we’re all human beings no matter your race, culture, language or nationality – then it would be a better place.

It’s exciting to bring the Global Gift Gala dinner and live auction to Dubai. The event – including auction of a limited-edition Montegrappa pen – raised money for two local foundations and for vulnerable women and children around the world. The Gala is an amazing platform on which to build a philanthropic network. We’re just entering this region and we look forward to really building out the network here.

I come from a world of volunteering because of my family. I grew up with a special-needs sister. She’s the light of our life and the inspiration behind my philanthropy. Because of her, my mother became a special education teacher and my whole family was involved. I remember being five years old and volunteering for the Special Olympics [an international sporting event for people with intellectual disabilities] or the Salvation Army. When you live as a selfless family and you think outside of yourself, it makes for a happier life.

Mostly my foundation focuses on women. If you help a woman, you help a community. The key to economic mobility within the Latino population – because we are disproportionately living in poverty in the US – is education. We currently have the lowest educational attainment in the US, so my foundation focuses on trying to improve awareness of the importance of education but also awareness that it’s the key to exiting poverty.

Howard Buffett [the son of billionaire Warren Buffett] and I have an intense interest in immigration. We did a border patrol in Arizona and we immersed ourselves in the problem to understand the Mexican and the US side – the challenges to the economy, to society. Since then, we’ve gone all over the world together helping farmers and farm workers because agriculture is the key to most countries’ economies.

I think it is important for everybody to give back, to participate. To live on this earth is to have compassion for other people’s situations, their socio-economic status, or other people’s opportunity to get an education. A lot of people think you have to be rich and famous to be a humanitarian or a philanthropist and you don’t. If I hadn’t received the fame that I have, I would still be doing the work that I’m doing.