The Global Gift Gala made its debut in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, with a star-studded fundraising dinner hosted in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Dream Ball.
The event took place at W Abu Dhabi - Yas Island, overlooking the Yas Marina Circuit, where the first day of the anticipated Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also kicked off.
The ball was held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Co-existence, whose presence was heralded by the A-listers on the red carpet.
“His presence here has really [had] a huge influence,” says beauty mogul and co-chair of the event Mona Kattan. “This is the first year in which tickets were sold almost overnight.”
Other co-chairs included Maria Bravo, founder of Global Gift Foundation; Nadine Maalouf and Nadia Sehweil, co-founders of Abu Dhabi women's group Sawtouna; Huda Kattan, beauty mogul and Global Gift ambassador; and Eva Longoria, actress, philanthropist and honorary chair.
“The UAE is one of the most generous communities in the world,” says Longoria, who also took to the stage at Expo 2020 Dubai for a Stand Up Against Street Harassment training session on Wednesday. “Nothing is impossible here. We said we wanted to raise money at the Formula One race and they made it happen.”
The actress and activist has been jetting off to Dubai to attend the Global Gift Gala for nine years, but says it’s her first time in the UAE capital.
The aim for this year’s gala dinner was to raise money for the Lebanese Red Cross and the Global Gift Foundation. Major sponsors included Fawaz Gruosi Jewellery, which also donated a pair of earrings worth more than Dh100,000 to be auctioned off at the event. The 18K rode-gold earrings, set with 90 brilliant-cut yellow sapphires and two brilliant-cut citrines, were donned by Longoria during the event.
“These causes are really true to my heart,” says Huda. “That’s the thing about Global Gala; there’s no way you can come here and not find something that touches you and makes you want to get involved.”
Both Kattan sisters have been supporters and active participants of the Global Gift Gala for years. “We’re just so happy to be a part of this,” says Mona. “Having such a network of people who bring together their resources is a great way to create an impact.”
For Sawtouna co-founders Maalouf and Sehweil, the ultimate cause behind the gala event pertains to giving back to their places of origin. “When you live in such an incredible place like the UAE and you’re comfortable, it’s an obligation to continue to give back,” says Nadia.
Sawtouna is a collective in the UAE capital committed to promoting volunteerism and developing the potential of women and children through supporting meaningful charitable causes. Its most recent beneficiary is the Lebanese Red Cross, which Maalouf and Sehweil say is doing incredible work in the face of adversities.
“Given the economic crisis in Lebanon and the situation after the Beirut port blast, we felt the Red Cross was the ultimate partner,” says Maalouf. “They’re on the ground, doing the work, and that’s important for us.”