Some challenges were acknowledged during the project preparation. The main challenge the project team had to deal with was that the project is novel to the Arab world. This has resulted in difficulty in the data gathering process as some of the donors were not able to comprehend the rationale and purpose behind the issuance of this Directory, despite the numerous clarifications provided by the researchers.
Addressing this issue, it was necessary to investigate the social and cultural aspects, and nurture personal contacts in each country to reach the philanthropic actors in the region. This has also created the discrepancies that exist between the number of donors in each country, which reflects the wide diversity in the contexts in which philanthropy is developed due to many cultural, social and logistical reasons.
Moreover, other donors did not wish to publicize their philanthropic activities due to the charity nature of their donations, particularly in the Gulf countries. They considered this as part of their Zakat (alms-giving), the fourth of the Five pillars of Islam, is the practice of charitable donation by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and, therefore a different kind of support is actually being implemented in a discrete way.
The economic crisis was another challenge that the project team faced, as some donors downsized the scale of their activities due to budget decreases.
Finally, a large number of companies were reluctant to reveal financial information regarding the scholarships offered per year, and the amount of financial contribution they provide to higher education. Thus, they have decided not to participate in the Directory.
Therefore, it is unrealistic to claim that the Directory is inclusive of all local and regional donors supporting higher education in the Region, but it is fair to claim that this is a first attempt to map out existing donors. It is to mention that this on-line Directory will attempt to resolve this by adding new donors, and updating the information published about the existing donors.