A multibillionaire businessman from the United Arab Emirates has launched the Arab world's largest education fund, setting aside $1.14 billion (4.2 billion dirhams) in grants for underserved youth from the region.

The Abdulla al-Ghurair Foundation for Education plans to provide scholarships for 15,000 Middle Eastern students over the next 10 years. The recipients will be students in need of financial assistance who also qualify for entrance to the region's top universities.

Fund Chairman Abdul Aziz al-Ghurair said at Wednesday's launch that his family has set aside a third of their wealth for the education initiative.

More than half of the 369 million people living in the Middle East are under 25 years old, but unemployment runs high in part because many do not have access to quality education or jobs.