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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Winner of Dh1m Arab Hope Makers award announced 

Mahmoud Wahid, chairman of the board of directors of Together to Save a Human, was awarded the Dh1 million prize

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, awards the finalists of the Arab Hope Makers award Dh1m each. Reem Mohammed / The National
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, awards the finalists of the Arab Hope Makers award Dh1m each. Reem Mohammed / The National

A volunteer who helps homeless people on the streets of Egypt to rebuild their lives has been named this year's Arab Hope Maker.

On Monday, Mahmoud Wahid, chairman of Together to Save a Human, was awarded the Dh1 million prize as he stood alongside Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed also announced the launch of an Arab Hope Makers Academy, with a budget of Dh50m.

They were joined on stage by the four other finalists, who were then startled and honoured when Sheikh Mohammed announced that all of them would be awarded Dh1m for their inspirational work.

Mr Waheed, 35, provides the homeless with food and medical care. The Egyptian said he believed that the ­secret to happiness was helping others.

He first began working with the homeless after spotting an elderly man living on the street.

“There is no authority in Egypt to provide support for the homeless," he said.

"I, along with some friends, started up an association to focus on the homeless, and providing them with shelter, healthcare and even bathing them," he said.

“We have rescued many people from the streets of Egypt. Each one of them has a difficult story."

“Seeing homeless people on the streets of Egypt has become widespread."

The charitable foundation is funded by donations from the public and Mr Waheed said he would use most of the money he was awarded to fund more shelters and medical care.

Mahmoud Wahid, chairman of the board of directors of Together to Save a Human, wins the Dh1 million prize on May 14 for his work helping Egypt's homeless.  Reem Mohammed / The National
Mahmoud Wahid, chairman of the board of directors of Together to Save a Human, wins the Dh1 million prize on May 14 for his work helping Egypt's homeless.  Reem Mohammed / The National

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid congratulated Mr Wahid on his win and announced the launch of the Arab Hope Makers Academy. This will have a Dh50m budget to support Arab philanthropist projects.

“Through [the academy] we will support hope makers in the Arab world and turn their personal projects into sustainable humanitarian initiatives,” Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter.

“The Arab Hope Makers Academy will work to consolidate the culture of hope and institutionalise the act of hope, and introduce international standards of work in humanitarian projects that will create hope for people.

“Investing in the hope industry is the best, noblest and most beautiful investment in our Arab world today.

“We want to create hope for millions of young Arabs to have a role in their societies”

The ceremony included musical performances from Mohammed Assaf, Hatem Al Iraqi, Fouad Abdel Wahed and Ahmad Gamal. Videos of each of the finalists were played to a audience who were then asked to vote for their winner.

Among this year's finalists were Nawal Mustafa, an Egyptian journalist, who was recognised for helping women prisoners to rebuild their lives after their release.

Manal Al Maslam, from Kuwait, whose child drowned, was recognised for helping others to cope with bereavement. She has counselled tens of thousands of refugees, low-income families and medical patients.

Siham Jarjis, an Iraqi former beauty queen, was nominated for helping widows and children in her home country. She has supported the building of more than 15,000 homes for widows.

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Read more:

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Celebration of hope

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Fares Ali, from Sudan, was recognised for his fight against hunger. Mr Ali distributed up to 40 million sandwiches to pupils from more than 100 schools in Sudan.

Fifteen finalists were selected to meet panel of judges that included representatives of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI).

Mr Mohammad Omran, Arab Hope Makers Project Manager, said: “In the first edition, we received submissions from countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq – all places in the news practically every day due to the strife that conflict has inflicted and continues to inflict on those living there."

Last year's award was presented to Nawal Al Sufi, a Moroccan woman who helped to rescue more than 200,000 refugees who arrived on Italy’s shores.

Among the other finalists last year were the White Helmets, collectively, who were the subject of an Academy Award-winning Netflix documentary. Often the first and only emergency service on the scene, they have braved bombings and chemical attacks to help civilians in northern Syria. Many have died on duty.