Arab Hope Makers: Dubai backs the right causes

First Emirati to win Dh1 million as part of the Arab Hope Makers award is a role model for all

Emirati Ahmed Al Falasi is announced the winner of the Arab Hope makers Award by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, on Thursday. Courtesy Arab Hope Makers
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In any part of the world, societies need role models to inspire them to do the right thing, live by certain values and help those less fortunate than themselves. The UAE believes in the importance of endorsing those people who show such dedication and in the third edition of Arab Hope Makers – which is a part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives – Ahmed Al Falasi has become the first Emirati to win the award, for his role in transforming a hospital in Mombasa into one of Kenya's most advanced facilities, thus improving countless lives.

Mr Al Falasi plans to use the winning amount of Dh1 million to update necessary medical equipment and eventually extend his work to other regions in Kenya. Beside humanitarians such as Mr Falasi, other people behind similar noble causes, too, received well-deserved attention and a resource boost from the UAE with an equally generous sum of Dh1 million.

The Arab Hope Makers initiative's support for social work creates awareness in a wide community and begets people's involvement

These include a former volleyball coach from Saudi Arabia – for supporting 7,000 orphans and children from disadvantaged families in countries across Africa; an Egyptian surgeon, known as the “doctor of the poor” for combating poverty; a Libyan-American fostering terminally ill children over the past 30 years; and the president and chief executive of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

“I consider all these people winners,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, told the crowd at a ceremony in Dubai on Thursday. The continued support for diverse humanitarian efforts – whether in education or healthcare – adds to the UAE’s commitment to positive change. In the words of Sheikh Mohammed, “to fight despair and pessimism in the Arab World, creating hope is necessary”.

Another sign of hope this time around was that women turned in 58 per cent of the humanitarian project submissions from 38 countries, 15 of them in the Arab world. Given that this year, there were 92,000 entries for the award – 6 per cent more than last time – it is evident that many feel strongly about creating hope and the need to draw the world’s attention to dire causes that need the backing of global societies.

The spotlight on each of these demanding and complex humanitarian efforts will help lift people out of often miserable circumstances.

The Arab Hope Makers initiative’s support for social work creates awareness in a wide community and begets people’s involvement. Which is how this year, in donations, more than Dh44m has been raised to build the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre in Egypt, which provides free cardiac care to vulnerable communities.

The initiative will adopt a humanitarian cause annually, inviting the public to contribute towards making a difference to lives less fortunate than those of the average UAE resident.

In the past, we have heard of the journeys of towering Arab Hope Makers: in 2017, Nawal Al Soufi was honoured with the title for her work to help more than 200,000 refugees who risk their lives to cross the unpredictable Mediterranean Sea in boats that often sink. In 2018, Mahmoud Wahid won for helping Cairo's homeless with food and medical care.

It is right to say that every one of the people behind these noble causes is a winner on any given day. Whether it is Fares Ali from Sudan – who distributed sandwiches to pupils in Sudan so that they don’t discontinue their schooling because of hunger – or Iraq’s Hisham Al Thahabi – who sheltered hundreds of homeless children – these humanitarians show us the difference just one person can make.

It’s important the world hears these stories of hope because we need its energy to overcome our challenges and seize our opportunities to build a better future.