Egypt's Magdi Yacoub among Zayed Award for Human Fraternity 2024 winners

The three winners will each receive a share of the $1 million prize

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Egyptian surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub is among the winners of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.

The founder of the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation in Egypt and the Chain of Hope charitable organisation in the UK, he is well known for his pioneering surgical techniques that have helped save thousands of lives, including those of children.

Sir Magdi, 88, a retired professor of cardiothoracic surgery, has opened cardiac centres in Ethiopia and Mozambique, with a centre in Rwanda's capital Kigali under construction.

He has also received numerous honours including a British knighthood and the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the Grand Order of the Nile from Egypt.

I am humbled to be receiving this award because it will help us continue to offer the best treatments to patients
Sir Magdi Yacoub

The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity allocates $1 million to a person, group or organisation from any walk of life working to further peaceful coexistence.

Three winners were announced at a media briefing held in Abu Dhabi and will share the $1 million prize.

The award ceremony, held on Monday evening at the Founder's Memorial under the theme 'Tales of Light', was attended by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“I am humbled to be receiving this award for many reasons but most importantly because it will help us continue to offer the best treatments to patients who do not have access to medical care and need to be looked after,” Sir Magdi said on Friday.

“We are active both in developed and developing countries in Africa and Central Africa to try to alleviate suffering and offer the very best free of charge, while respecting their dignity and looking after them at the highest level.”

Sir Magdi said that there were many talents in the region and around the world who need to be nurtured and utilised to make these services more sustainable and ensure its continuity.

The others honoured include Indonesian organisations Nahdaltul Ulama and Muhammadiya and Chilean grassroots leader Nelly Leon Correa.

Mother Nelly, as she is widely known, is the president and co-founder of the Woman Standing Up Foundation in Chile.

Her organisation focuses on supporting incarcerated women and aiding their reintegration into society.

“We want to be a beacon of hope for women and want them to be seen,” she said.

Having supported about 700 women in Chile's largest prison, she told The National that her hope was to extend her programme to other detention centres in Latin America.

“A woman means family and even though she is incarcerated and doesn't have her freedom, it doesn't mean she stops being a mother.

“My dream is to bring hope to humanity and when my time comes, I would like to die in prison among these women.

“The award and the fact that I am here today in the UAE means that we are finally being seen,” she added.

The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity prize is the first monetary award that the foundation has received.

Nearly 94 per cent of the two-year programme's participants remain conviction-free within two years of release.

Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's largest Islamic organisations with more than 190 million members, have also been recognised for their humanitarian and peace-building efforts.

Through the establishment of educational institutions, hospitals and anti-poverty projects, the organisations have improved the lives of countless Indonesians and vulnerable populations around the world.

“This award is very important for us because we consider it as recognition of our humanitarian work in Indonesia,” Ulil Abshar Abdalla told The National.

“Muslims in Indonesia are the largest [part of the Islamic world] but the knowledge of Islam and Muslims in Indonesia is very minimal and we hope that with this award, our work in humanitarian issues will be known by the outside world.

“We believe this is the beginning of a better understanding of Islam and what we are doing in Indonesia.”

The prize was first established on February 4, 2019, to mark the meeting between Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmed Al Tayeb in Abu Dhabi.

Previous winners include UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Moroccan-French activist Latifa Ibn Ziaten.

Updated: February 06, 2024, 1:55 PM