Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the opening of the Dubai Medical College Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dr Mariam Ketait, an Emirati doctor and inventor, says the passing of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is not just a loss for the UAE, but the entire humanity.

“It is a loss for humanity, because he has done a lot of humanitarian works across the world and he has worked with the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) and supported the education sector and healthcare sector alongside the responsibilities that came with his leadership roles in the UAE,” says the family medicine specialist turned well-being designer.

Dr Mariam Ketait

“His role with healthcare goes back decades. When I was a student in Dubai Medical College for Girls, he used to visit the college with the late Saeed Bin Ahmed Al Lootah, the chairman. He used to support women in medicine and also anyone who continues their education beyond just getting a degree. If you want to go for your Master’s or you want to specialise in medicine, he had these medical awards for us and he used to celebrate our success with us.”

She remembered Sheikh Hamdan visiting Dubai Health Authority (then known as Department of Health and Medical Services) when she got her specialty in family medicine after she did her master’s.

“It was a big celebration with him present with us. Unfortunately, I currently don’t have photos of the event,” she said.

Guiding light

“Sheikh Hamdan was a guiding light especially in the education sector. He made a huge positive impact on healthcare, but it was the continuing education that he always promoted.

“He conferred upon us awards and offered us support to continue our education. It was a big morale boost and an inspiration for me. It tells me that you should never stop learning and you should always educate yourself and then you need to also support others to be educated as well,” said Dr Mariam, who has been working with schools in different countries on various projects.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the inauguration of Dubai Medical College Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

She is known for promoting yoga and wellness and for creating a meditation chair called Alrowaiha to help people find a space to rest, reconnect with the rhythms of life and let go of the past.

“I was very much inspired by him and we need to continue his legacy as a nation because what he did was not just philanthropy or giving money. He also attended to other needs of humanity such as education and healthcare not just locally, but globally.”

Supporting education through UNESCO

Dr Mariam recollected how proud she felt when she saw news reports about Sheikh Hamdan inaugurating the UNESCO Conference Hall in Paris, which cost around US$6 million, and was funded by his donation in 2017.

UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers was created in 2008 to support the improvement of teaching and learning quality in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education, which is one of UNESCO’s priorities.

Dr Mariam Ketait
Dr Mariam Ketait speaks at the TEDx event in Dubai, earlier. Image Credit: Supplied

Awarded every two years, the Prize amounts to US$300,000, which is equally divided between three winners whose projects aim at improving the performance and effectiveness of teachers worldwide.

While the medical awards Sheikh Hamdan instituted encouraged medical professionals and scientists to come up with innovative projects and researches, Dr Mariam said they encouraged the young generation to continue to excel in studies and teachers to give their best for the next generations.

“He has touched so many lives. The impact [of his passing] is not felt just locally, but globally],” she said, offering condolences to his family and everyone associated with him. Dr Ketait conveyed her condolences to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the demise of Sheikh Hamdan.