Global Gift Gala is all about changing lives

Global Gift Foundation founder Maria Bravo says the Dubai gala on Friday is the humanitarian organisation's most important annual event.

Dubai, United Arab EMirates - December 14, 2013.  Eva Longoria with Ricky Martin at the red carpet for the Global Gift gala.  ( jeffrey E Biteng / The National )  Editor's Note; Rebecca M reports. *** Local Caption ***  JB141213-Eva04.jpg al16de-holly-EvaRicky-p4.jpg
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Friday night's glitzy Global Gift Gala is more than the celebrities in attendance. The annual event’s focus is to raise funds for international charity organisations who provide valuable services in some of the world’s most impoverished nations. For this year’s edition, the foundation will team up with Dubai Cares to support number of international organisations including Harmony House. Run by Dubai residents, husband and wife Lucy Bruce and Gaurav Sinha, the the India-based NGO runs day-shelters for destitute children and provides free education, medical care and clothing for up to 500 youngsters.

Tell us where the idea of Global Gift Gala started?

Since I was young, my mother always made sure we were involved in giving back to the community. Then, living in Los Angeles, myself and Eva (Longoria) used to volunteer at the local children’s cancer hospital. We used to work as translators for the Latin community who couldn’t speak English and had children that were ill. From there we started working with Padres Contra el Cancer. As time went on, we got more and more involved in philanthropic projects and I eventually decided to create a concept like what we were doing in the US and bring it to my home country of Spain. Charity Gala dinners were very rare in Spain at the time. That was back in 2007 and now 10 years later, our concept is working annually in 14 different cities in Europe, the US and Asia.  Our event platform uses a formula that means 100% of the funds we raise at our events go exactly to where they have to go - to the charities and beneficiary foundations. We use sponsors to cover event costs, some supporting the events economically, some donating product and services in-kind. Thanks to these sponsors, donations do not go on admin costs or event production.

As a global initiative, we’ve seen this event happen in London, Paris, Marbella, Madrid, Edinburgh and Mexico. Why is Dubai special and is considered your most important gala of the year?

The UAE plays a significant role in supporting humanitarian causes and the leaders of the nation have done so much over the past years to support people in need. It was only natural for us to identify Dubai as a key city due to its spirit of tolerance, harmony and compassion. This is a city where people’s dreams come true so it was a natural progression for us to create an event that helps those in unfortunate positions to also make their dreams come true. Dubai is a global city and we are very lucky to work with Dubai Cares, the Dubai International Film Festival and other key institutions in the country to help us raise awareness about Global Gift and its supporting charities. We consider Dubai our most important event because it is our largest event, each year it is attended by over 400 people and it is a great way to finish off a year of fundraising around the world.

Who are the celebrities who have been staunch supporters of Global Gift Gala, and how has their participation impacted the advocacies they’ve been fighting for?

Eva Longoria is the heart and soul of Global Gift. Eva has been with us from day one and attends just about every event. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for Eva’s trust in our work and her undivided support.  Alongside Eva, we work with over 50 different celebrities each year, who time and time again lend their time and voice to helping the causes involved. Celebrities like Ricky Martin, Victoria Beckham, David Beckham, Anastacia, Melanie Griffith, Alesha Dixon, Nicole Scherzinger, Ronan Keating, Nikos Aliagas, Bertin Osborne, Robert Pires, Oliver Giroud to name just a few have been to dozens of our events and their support has a direct impact on the success of the night.  The celebrities attract global media attention and therefore shed light on the charities. In many cases, the celebrities donate auction items like meet and greets with them in Hollywood which raise substantial funds for the foundations on the night. On many occasions, these same celebrities also make donations to the foundations involved as they want to help.  We are conscious that at times, the celebrity factor takes centre stage, especially in the media and in the public eye, but we are always working hard to ensure the focus is always on the real reason for every gala we produce. It is the desire of the celebrities to highlight the charitable causes that are aided by these events as well.

One of this year's Global Gift Gala beneficiaries is Harmony House. Tell us more about this group and the work they do?

Harmony House is an NGO registered in UK and India by Lucy Bruce, who is a resident of Dubai. They run day-shelters for destitute children in India and provide free education, medical care and clothing for nearly 500 children. Supporting individuals like Lucy and other philanthropists in the region is an important part of our mission to support all causes that aim to improve the lives of children and women.

Tickets for the Global Gift Gala begin from $500 (Dh1,836.50) at


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