International Luminaries Raise More Than $15 Million For Education Initiatives At 6th ROTA Gala Dinner | Press Releases

International Luminaries Raise More Than $15 Million For Education Initiatives At 6th ROTA Gala Dinner
20 November 2016

  • His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Emir, And Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, Attend Gala Dinner


Doha, Qatar, 20 November 2016: Attended by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Emir, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Reach Out To Asia’s (ROTA) biennial Gala Dinner and auction raised more than $15 million this evening to help fund education initiatives in marginalised communities across Asia and the Middle East.

The prestigious event, which took place at Al Shaqab in Doha, was attended by: His Royal Highness Al Waleed Bin Talal; Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, Chairperson of Reach Out To Asia (ROTA); Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF); and His Excellency Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, among other members of the royal family.

In an inspirational address to guests on the evening, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, Chairperson, ROTA, said: “The world today is afflicted by many conflicts, and as these conflicts increase and spread to new areas, so do the challenges. Most prevalent among these is the refugee crisis; an issue that causes millions of children to be deprived of education. An obvious example is Syria, where there are more than five million children deprived of education and 400 thousand others which are at risk of leaving school. These new challenges require us to double our efforts and work together to overcome them. And these challenges strengthen our belief that our mission is noble, and that education is the way to end conflict and bring peace, stability and transition towards a prosperous future.”

Lord Mark Poltimore, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's Europe; Caroline Scheufele, Chopard co-founder; Kuwaiti actors Souad Abdulla and Abdulhussain Abdulredhah; andchief executives and owners of Qatar’s largest companies were among the notable guests in attendance of the Gala Dinner, which was sponsored by Al Majed Jewellery, as the gold sponsor, and Qatar Rail, as the silver sponsor.  

On the evening, guests also enjoyed a special screening of a film documenting how ROTA Goodwill Ambassador Ghanim Al Muftah raised QR1million through his ‘With you, we reach one million riyals’ campaign. Al Muftah founded the campaign in January 2015 in a bid to raise the money to fund the rehabilitation of sporting facilities in Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon.

Additionally, guests enjoyed a host of special performances during the Gala Dinner. The Malek Jandali Trio with Laura Metcalf on cello and Abdulrahim Alsaidi on oud, captivated guests with their outstanding musical performance.

Jandali is the founder of non-profit organisation Pianos for Peace, which aspires to use the power of music to enrich communities. He is also the founder of the Malek Jandali International Youth Piano Competition, which encourages talented young pianists from around the globe to embrace the music of their homelands. Jandali regularly contributes to UNICEF, MSF, and Save The Children to assist children in need around the world.

Teacher and volunteer Ahmad Al Sawafiri was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gala Dinner for his ongoing commitment to education and working with children in the Middle East. The 25-year-old Palestinian lost both of his legs and his left hand in an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in 2008. Following the attack, Al Sawafiri devoted his life to educating children. He continues to inspire thousands of young people across the Arab world, sharing his story of triumph in the face of adversity.

Honourable guests were also treated to a performance by the young voices of the Siwar Choir, Qatar’s leading youth choir established by the Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC).

Ramon Pont, Vice President of the FC Barcelona Foundation and a member of the FC Barcelona board, expressed his pride at attending the event. “It’s a great honour for FC Barcelona Foundation to participate in this incredible ROTA initiative that works towards achieving important educational goals and making a difference in lives of thousands of children in Asia,” he said.

A Sotheby’s charity auction saw intense bidding on a number of rare items on the evening. These included a Patek Philippe’s dome table clock and a Qatari Natural Jeewan pearl necklace donated by Al Majed Jewellery; a Louis Moinet Mecanograph limited edition watch donated by Alfardan Jewellery; a Hermès men’s trunk donated by Mr Wissam Al Mana; a 2017 BMW M3 30 Jahre Limited Edition donated by Alfardan Automobiles; and – incredibly - a trip to the edge of space for two.

Commenting on the evening, Essa Al Mannai, Executive Director, ROTA, said. “Held under the theme ‘Team up Today, Shape up Tomorrow’, this year’s Gala Dinner highlighted just how much can be achieved to assist those in need when efforts are united. As in previous years, the evening was a resounding success and ROTA is immensely grateful to our honourable guests for their generosity. Their contributions will enable us to advance our education projects, which will empower youth to realise their full potential and make a lasting positive impact in their communities.”

Proceeds from the auction will be used to fund existing and future education initiatives that support numerous underprivileged youth organised by ROTA, a member of Qatar Foundation. These include Syrian Refugees through its ‘Longing to Learn’ programme in Lebanon; the ‘I Had a Dream’ initiative in Jordan; and ‘Project Tomorrow’ in Turkey. Other ROTA initiatives that will receive funding include the ‘Opportunities for Life’ programme in Bangladesh, the ‘Bringing Back Hope’ project in Yemen, and the ‘1 in 11’ campaign in Indonesia, in partnership with UNICEF and FC Barcelona Foundation.

Nacho Mestre, Managing Director, FC Barcelona, said: “The growth of the ‘1 in 11’ campaign is the result of the commitment and the collective efforts of ROTA, UNICEF and FC Barcelona Foundation who have worked tirelessly to promote education through sport across Asia.”

Praising ROTA for its efforts over the past decade, Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “ROTA continues to have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of children across Asia and the Middle East through its crucial education projects. We commend and congratulate ROTA on its 10th anniversary as it continues - with its valued partners such as FC Barcelona Foundation - to advance its efforts and work towards ensuring all children will one day have access to quality education.”

Commenting on their proud sponsorship of the event, Mr Jamil Bin Mahdi Al Majed, Vice Chairman of Al Majed Jewellery, said: “It’s an absolute honour for Al Majed Jewellery to be affiliated with this prestigious and charitable event that aims to advance ROTA’s education initiatives across Asia and the Middle East.”

Eng Abdulla Al Subaie, Managing Director and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Qatar Rail, said: “Qatar Rail is delighted we are able to support ROTA and its crucial social development initiatives by being one of the sponsors of the evening. Qatar Rail is fully committed to supporting humanitarian initiatives and helping facilitate the betterment of society. Education is the fundamental right of everyone and one of the most important tools in fighting poverty.”

Renowned media personality and businesswoman, Lojain Omran, was the master of ceremonies on the evening. Omran is a ROTA Goodwill Ambassador who represents ROTA at local, regional and international events.  In 2011, Omran was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the International Islamic Relief Organisation. Since her appointment, Omran has made field visits to Gaza, Kenya, Somalia, and to refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria.