x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Imran Khan joins star-studded cancer fundraiser in Dubai

After raising Dh2.3m in a similar event in Dubai last year, another dinner is to be held to raise funds for a new cancer hospital in Peshawar.

Pakistan politician and former cricketer Imran Khan arrives at the Atlantis, The Palm hotel in Dubai to attend a fundraising dinner in February last year held in support of his cancer hospital in Pakistan. Jaime Puebla / The National
Pakistan politician and former cricketer Imran Khan arrives at the Atlantis, The Palm hotel in Dubai to attend a fundraising dinner in February last year held in support of his cancer hospital in Pakistan. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI // A star-studded fundraiser in aid of the cancer hospital charity of the former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan is to be held in Dubai this year.

A host of celebrities, including Mr Khan, who is now a politician, are expected to attend a gala dinner with live entertainment.

All money raised will go towards building a new cancer hospital in Peshawar.

The charity also runs the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore.

“No final date had been decided for the event but it will be sometime between the end of October and the end of November, hopefully,” said Rahma Yunus, the Arabian Gulf marketing manager for the hospital’s charity.

“The reason we opted to build a new hospital in Peshawar was that we found 30 to 40 per cent of people who ask for treatment come from that area and we can then also treat people from Afghanistan.”

Work on the new hospital in the north-west of the country near the Afghan border began last year.

Once complete in 2015 the six-storey hospital will offer the same level of care as the hospital in Lahore.

But building a new hospital means the charity can never rest in its fundraising role.

“We aim to raise US$2 million (Dh7.35m) each year now from the [Arabian] Gulf and it is a challenge because the economies here still haven’t recovered fully to a few years ago,” Ms Yunus said. “People are rightly cautious about which charities to donate to and there is also competition between charities so it is difficult.”

Despite this, the charity has so far raised 60 per cent of its fundraising target for this year.

“Most of it has come from donations from high net-worth individuals as we haven’t had any official fundraising events so far,” Ms Yunus said.

Last year, a similar gala evening at Atlantis, The Palm hotel in Dubai raised more than Dh2.3m to pay for a new MRI scanner at the Lahore facility.

A host of Indian and Pakistani stars from the worlds of sport, television and film attended to show their support.

About 1,000 guests paid Dh10,000 each to attend and something similar is being planned this time.
“We are going to be looking at about 1,000 guests as well as live entertainment and some celebrities,” Ms Yunus said.

“At this stage we don’t have the final dates for when Imran will be available and once that is confirmed we can start contacting donors and corporate sponsors.”

The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore was opened in 1994 in honour of, and named after, Mr Khan’s mother, who died of the disease.

Speaking at the event last year, Mr Khan said: “It is a unique hospital.

“It is the only private cancer hospital that offers to pay for 75 per cent of treatment.

“But the problem is that we get 100 people every day coming to us asking for treatment and we have to turn them away because we can only treat 14 people at a time.”

The new hospital is being built on a small area of donated land in Peshawar.

This has affected how the hospital is to be built.
“We are having to build vertically because we don’t have as much land to expand on as we do in Lahore,” said Ms Yunus.

The Lahore hospital has annual running costs of Dh172 m.

More than half of that comes from donations and zakat, the Islamic obligation for a person to give a set percentage of their wealth to charity.

The rest is raised through hospital services.

To donate or help with corporate sponsorship, contact Rahma Yunus via email on skmtgulf@skm.org.pk

nhanif@thenational.ae