DUBAI: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, crowned the 4 Arab Hope Makers finalists, awarding them a financial reward of AED 1 million each, in the presence of His Highness Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid awarded the title of Arab Hope Maker of the 4th season of the largest initiative of its kind in the Arab region celebrating philanthropists, to Tala Al Kalil who received the highest number of votes during the ceremony.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed also directed that all four finalists be awarded the title of Arab Hope Maker, who are, in addition to Tala Al Khalil, Mohamed Al Najjar from Iraq, Amine Imnir from Morocco and Fathiya Al Mahmoud from Egypt.

“In our part of the world, hope making is life making. The only way we can overcome challenges is through collaborative efforts,” His Highness Sheikh Mohammed said.
“Hope for a better future is what keeps people going. Every new generation bears the responsibility of creating a better reality in their communities. On the other hand, spreading despair is our major challenge, which is why we need to continue to nurture hope, optimism and positivity among the new generation,” he concluded.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid awarded the top Arab Hope Maker title to Tala Al Khalil for her initiative to mentally support and heal children with Down Syndrome and cancer patients.

The closing ceremony was attended by Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Arts and Culture Authority, alongside ministers, senior officials and a host of media representatives.

Mohmmad Al Gergawi, Secretary General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives said the Hope Makers initiative reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of instilling the culture of giving across the Arab world, while celebrating those who launch life-changing initiatives that benefit communities and inspire the new generation to create a better future.

“The 4th season of Hope Makers revealed a number of unique charity initiatives that serve Arab communities and help thousands of people around the world. More than 58,000 Arab hope makers have proved that our region enjoys a wealth of philanthropists who renew our faith in our ability to become a global model of giving and philanthropy, regardless of colour, race or religion,” he added.

Al Gergawy affirmed that Hope Makers initiative will continue to support voluntary work aiming to improve quality of life across Arab communities, and to celebrate efforts to serve vulnerable populations and alleviate their suffering, in line with MBRGI’s objectives of promoting a culture of hope and nurturing innovative ideas that can be transformed into sustainable projects in the Arab World.

The closing ceremony saw the participation of several Arab celebrities, including Ahlam, Hussain Al Jassmi and Assala, alongside artists and media personalities.
Amidst a massive audience of 12,000 people, the closing ceremony at the Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai, showcased the inspiring stories of the four Hope Makers finalists Tala Al Khalil from Iraq, Mohamed Al Najjar from Iraq, Fathiya Al Mahmoud from Egypt and Amine Imnir from Morocco.

4 inspiring stories
37-year-old Dr. Mohamed Al Najjar from Iraq lost his leg in 2014. A fan of football since his childhood, he turned this tragedy into a driver of change and hope. While studying for his PhD in England, he joined the Portsmouth football team for amputees, excelled and made a name for himself, winning the title of the club’s best player in 2019.

Upon returning to Iraq, he strived to recreate this experience in his home country, and managed to form a football team of amputees that went on to participate in international friendly matches, qualifying for the 2022 Amputee Football World Cup in Turkey just one year after its formation. Thanks to Al Najjar’s relentless effort to motivate his team members and help them out of despair due to their injuries, the Iraqi team now ranks 19th globally out of 70 amputee football teams.

Al Najjar’s selfless drive to help amputees like him went beyond training and motivating the team to financial support, until the team was known enough to attract sponsors.

From Morocco, the audience met Youtuber Amine Imnir, whose social media account ‘Faysboki’ strives to improve living conditions for underprivileged Moroccans. Heading the AFTAS Society for Development and Solidarity, Amine has sponsored a number of humanitarian initiatives and aid campaigns in his country, documenting his efforts through his Faysboki TV channel to help spread the culture of humanitarian work and motivate others to join.

AFTAS’s list of achievements includes distribution of over 1,000 solar panels, more than 4,500 food parcels to poor families including widows and orphans, financing 217 surgeries in 2023 and the planting of 2,800 fruitful trees.

Known as ‘the mother of orphans’ or ‘Mama Fathiya’, Egyptian hope maker Fathiya Al Mahmoud offers an inspiring example of selfless giving and nurturing hope. Failing to have children of her own since her marriage 30 years ago, she decided in 2005 to adopt 34 orphan girls. With the aid of her husband, they founded A Touch of Hope society to care for orphans, caring for raising, educating and inspiring 34 girls without any outside help.

Realizing that raising that number of girls is a challenging endeavor, Fathiya dived deep into the world of nurturing children and how to care for girls’ physical and mental needs. In addition to their work in caring for orphans, Fathiya and her husband established a charity hospital that offers free healthcare to orphans and people of determination.

Iraqi pharmacist Tala Al Khalil started his journey as a hope maker in 2015, when she started receiving young cancer patients in a special ‘caravan’ at the Basra Children’s Hospital to help them overcome challenges associated with their illness, including studying and inclusion in society. This initiative offered children with cancer a room for hope and optimism away from the hard reality of treatments and hospital wards. This was the start that inspired Tala to establish her Warriors Academy in 2018, to care for young people of determination who suffer various illnesses. Today, Tala personally cares for 200 children with Down Syndrome and cancer.

Offering much-needed psychological support to the children who now call her ‘mama’, Tala is a strong believer in the role of good mental health in enhancing immunity and the body’s ability to fight illness.

Operating under the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the 4th edition of Hope Makers initiative attracted over 58,000 applications from across the region.

Contributions to the 4th edition of the initiative covered its various themes of Community Service, Humanitarian Aid and Relief, Spreading Education and Knowledge, Empowering Youth, Inspiring Stories, Health and Fighting Disease and Arts and Culture among others.

All nominations were subject to extensive evaluations according to several criteria that determined the winners for this season.

Art Creates Hope
In its 4th season, The Arab Hope Makers initiative teamed up with the ET Arabic platform, to launch “Art Creates Hope”, a campaign that aims to involve Arab celebrities and artists in various humanitarian projects and initiatives across the Arab world.

The aim is to promote the values of kindness, generosity, and hope among the people and to foster a positive culture in Arab societies.

Fight against despair
H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has launched the Hope Makers initiative first in 2017, when he posted a creative ad on his official social media accounts, offering a job for the position of Hope Maker for a reward of AED 1 million.
The key mission of the initiative is to spread hope to support the fight against despair, cultivate optimism and instill a culture of giving that helps change makers translate their ideas and ambitions into reality on the ground. It targets all Arab individuals and institutions who have creative and impactful projects, programmes, campaigns or initiatives that aim to make a positive change and enhance the stability and social solidarity across Arab communities.