Emirati actress Weham Dhahmani Image Credit: Abdul Rahman, Gulf News

Glitz and glamour returned once again to the Emirates Palace Hotel on Saturday as celebrities from around the Arab world turned out to lend their support to the Noble Humanitarian Awards. Founded in 2009, it is an annual event that honours celebrities and charitable organisations for their tireless efforts to raise awareness and address the issues they represent.

Ahead of the ceremony honouring leading UAE-based organisations, tabloid! grabbed some one-on-one time with Arab celebrities as they made their way down the red carpet to find out what they thought about the event, the importance of charitable work and the cause dear to their hearts.

Saber Al Roubai [Tunisian singer]

"It's great that [the UAE] is a society that is charitable and that encourages people to give, especially to causes that involve children. I hope that my fellow celebrities are also dedicated to such worthwhile causes because as well-known individuals it is more important that we are able to us our status to not only help increase happiness among others but to also decrease their sadness as much as possible."

Kareem Al Sharqawi [Egyptian actor]

 "I'm very happy to be here. It's important to highlight causes such as those represented by the organisations tonight in as many different channels as possible, especially with the media, because they can help spread the message in a faster and more widespread way. I'm very proud that countries such as the UAE help to support such causes because those efforts reflect positively on the region in the eyes of the international community."

Ragheb Alama [Lebanese singer]

 "I'm happy and honoured to be here at the Noble Awards. We are here to honour charitable organisations and the important role they play in our societies. The UAE is known as ‘Bilad Al Khair' or ‘Land of Blessings' and I hope the blessings that are presented in this country are extended to everyone all around the world."

 Rola Saad [Lebanese singer]

"Events such as these are amazing because they help raise awareness about many charities that need it. I recently returned from Africa and I feel that it still needs as much help as possible because there is widespread poverty there. But there are many countries in the region that also need our help. I would prefer to first focus the needs of countries in the Middle East before moving onto international issues."

 Yousra [Egyptian actress]

"I believe that every human being has an obligation to continue to raise awareness about the different issues affecting our world. That is why I am not only an Ambassador for the UN's development programme, but have also been working closely with a cancer hospital in Egypt for the last three years."

Janeen Mansour [Founder of the Noble Awards]

"I'm in the media business and I feel that we tend to focus too much on the superficial things celebrities do and not recognise them or honour them for their humanitarian work, and the charities they work for aren't being recognised. So it would be important to put these two groups together to hopefully put that out there and create awareness, and also to inspire people to get stand up and get involved, be it in a big or small [way]."

Rida Al Abdullah [Iraqi singer]

"It is an honour and privilege that I have been given an opportunity to be a part of this wonderful event and to lend my support to the various charities that it highlights. But I don't have a specific charity that I support because I believe that no one cause is more important than the next and it wouldn't be fair to highlight one over others."

The prize

The bronze statues, which have a marble base, are based on a design by Hollywood actor Antonio Banderas. For the Noble Awards in Abu Dhabi, 21 students aged five to 25 were chosen from special needs and mainstream schools and were given a carving tool and pillar of wax to create a design. Those designs were then placed onto three sides of the statue, with Banderas’ design located on the fourth side.

Organisations honoured

  • Dubai Cares
  • Friends of Cancer patients
  • Dubai Autism Centre
  • Gulf for Good Life for Relief and Development
  • Make a Wish Foundation
  • Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs.

Behind the scenes

Despite the fact that the Noble Awards ceremony was supposed to begin at 7.30pm, it did not start until 9pm, prompting many walkouts. And thanks to technical glitches and human error, several parts of the programme had to be repeated, causing delays, grumbles and even more exits — even by some of those being honoured.

Noble Awards founder Janeen Mansour said: “The evening surpassed all of my expectations. Everyone I spoke to told me how inspired they were, which was what I was hoping for.

“As for people leaving, many have work tomorrow and television is a lot of hurrying up and waiting, which is something that people here aren’t used to. But that’s alright, as long as they take the spirit of the event with them.”