Sir Naim Dangoor was born in Baghdad in 1914, when Iraq was under Ottoman rule. He was one of six children, and his grandfather, Hakham Ezra Dangoor, had been Baghdad’s chief rabbi. At the age of 17 Sir Naim travelled to London to study engineering and on his return to Iraq went into business. He built up a diverse portfolio including property development and letting, a match and furniture factory and he won the first contract to bottle Coca-Cola in Iraq. In 1947 he married Renée Dangoor and they went on to have four sons.
Following the birth of Israel and the rise of Arab nationalism life became increasingly difficult for Iraqi Jews and in 1960 Dangoor moved his family to Britain. For a few years he travelled between the UK and Iraq, however in 1964 he was advised he must remain permanently in Iraq or lose his businesses. So he abandoned his businesses and began to live in the UK.
Settling in London he vowed that if he made another fortune in the ‘wonderful country’ that had taken him in, he would plough his gains back into philanthropic causes. Sir Naim set up a commercial property business in which his sons joined him and it soon began to thrive.
With his renewed success he was ready to make good on his promise. He began to give back to many organisations and charities focusing on education and health. In 2014 he made the largest single philanthropic gift ever received by the Royal Society of Medicine. He was also the major private donor to the Francis Crick Institute and to Cancer Research UK. He funded over 5,000 scholarships for students with no family history of tertiary education, from low income backgrounds mainly to study STEM subjects. He set up the Dangoor Centre for Personalised Medicine at Bar Ilan University in Israel and donated to many other causes and sponsored the Westminster Academy in London whose pupils hail from over 60 countries.
The Dangoor Centre for Medical Education brings together the extensive educational facilities located on the ground floor at the Royal Society of Medicine. These include the Naim Dangoor Auditorium, the Max Rayne Auditorium and Atrium, the Guy-Whittle Auditorium, the Toynbee McKenzie Room, the Cavendish Room, as well as the break-out and training rooms, and the Auchi Foyer.
These facilities are used by up to 40,000 doctors and healthcare professionals every year and host over 400 medical education meetings covering over 50 medical specialties.
The Royal Society of Medicine’s newest lecture theatre was opened in 2013. This state of the art auditorium, which seats 80 and features the latest audio-visual technology, was named the Naim Dangoor Auditorium in 2014, with an opening ceremony attended by the Dangoor family to mark Sir Naim’s donation. Find out further information about hiring the venue here.
To celebrate Sir Naim’s philanthropic donation, the RSM established the annual Naim Dangoor Lecture, a free talk which celebrates medical education and innovation. The first lecture took place in 2014 delivered by Professor Lord Winston on pioneering new treatments for fertility. Since then the Naim Dangoor Lecture has been presented by key figures including Lord Darzi of Denham and Mustafa Suleyman who is Co-Founder and Head of Applied Artificial Intelligence at Google DeepMind.
You can find out about future talks here.