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Moroccan Hind Al Ayedi, one of the entries for this year's Arab Hope Maker Award, has nurtured over 150,000 homeless people Image Credit:

Dubai: Come Thursday and a total of five finalists will be announced during the third edition of the Arab Hope Makers variety show, giving the audience a chance to vote for the ultimate Dh1 million award winner after watching each of the finalists’ inspiring stories.

Arab Hope Makers is the region’s largest initiative to honour philanthropic efforts, and they don’t necessarily have to be big. The initiative aims to tell people that they don’t need huge resources to make a change; on the contrary, it starts with small individual efforts driven by a desire to make a change, and the rest follows.

Record entries
This year, the third edition of the Arab Hope Maker initiative has drawn a new record of 92,000 entries from 38 countries, including 15 Arab countries.”

Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive interview ahead of the Arab Hope Makers finale on February 20, Hamdah Al Bigishi, project manager at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), said, “This year’s Arab Hope Makers finale will be the biggest yet, with a host of Arab celebrities, media figures, social media influencers and leading humanitarians. The grand show will feature the big Arab headliners Nawal Al Kuwaitia, Emirati singer Balqees and Palestinian pop singer Mohammed Assaf. The multi-Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter RedOne will bring a unique global touch with an unforgettable performance.”

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Hamdah Al Bigishi, project manager at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives

For the first time since its inception, the Arab Hope Makers will also be supporting an Arab Humanitarian Cause of the Year to instill the culture of giving in the public and create a wider community involvement in a shared cause that benefits the region.

- Hamdah Al Bigishi, project manager at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives

But these are not the only reasons that make the Arab Hope Makers initiative a big deal.

92,000 entries, 38 countries

The making of the event has been equally grand. As Hamdah said, “In its first round, the Arab Hope Makers initiative received an overwhelming 65,000 applications from all over the Arab world, while the second recorded over 87,000 entries. This year (the third edition) has drawn a new record of 92,000 entries from 38 countries, including 15 Arab countries.”

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She said Egypt has topped the list of participation from Arab countries, followed by Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Palestine and Lebanon. From the West, Germany tops the list, followed by the United States, Sweden and France.

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She said, “The overwhelming number of applications received this year confirms the need for such an initiative in the Arab world. Through highlighting role models in the region whose meaningful initiatives are leading a positive impact in societies, the initiative is spreading hope and optimism in the Arab world, especially among youth, reminding them of their role in leading a positive change.”

From 20 sandwiches to 49 million

According to her, the initiative recognises even the smallest of individual efforts that hold potential for massive change.

“We have seen such cases in the past when one of last edition’s finalists, Faris Ali from Sudan, started distributing 20 sandwiches to students who were dropping out of school due to hunger. His initiative incredibly grew over the years that he distributed over 49 million sandwiches over the past nine years, with the help of more than 1,200 volunteers. The increase in participation year after year demonstrates the success that the Arab Hope Makers initiative achieved in sparking the humanitarian movement in the region, and we aim to take it forward to broader horizons,” Hamdah said.

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Rigorous review

Candidates go through several qualifying stages before they are shortlisted to 20 semi-finalists. A specialised committee is formed to review and evaluate applications, and conduct field visits and interviews with the semi-finalists to examine the impact of their projects.

Based on an extensive evaluation of the impact and outreach of projects, the main committee selects five finalists whose inspiring stories are shared before thousands of people in a final grand ceremony in Dubai before crowning the winner.

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The committee prioritises innovative campaigns that efficiently address challenges facing communities. Projects are shortlisted based on candidates’ commitment and dedication to ensuring the success of their initiatives in serving communities. The committee also looks at the initiatives’ progress over time, sustainability, continuity and replicability in other societies to benefit wider range of communities.

Free cardiovascular care

Hamdah said this year’s Arab Hope Makers aims to share the UAE’s message of hope with the region and the world through an innovative approach that instills the value of giving regardless of available resources.

“The third edition will honour Egyptian-British Dr Magdi Yacoub, one of the world’s most respected cardiac surgeons, who is currently dedicating the expertise he gained from a career spanning over five decades to providing free cardiac treatment to patients in his homeland Egypt. The Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation trains healthcare professionals and conducts open-heart surgeries and cardiac procedures to thousands each year, especially children. Yacoub has not only been a top-rated heart surgeon, but has also given back to the next generation of doctors in Egypt, the region and the world through passing on his expertise,” she said.

"For the first time since its inception, the Arab Hope Makers will also be supporting an Arab Humanitarian Cause of the Year to instill the culture of giving in the public and create a wider community involvement in a shared cause that benefits the region," she said.

Ticket proceeds

Hamdah said, “The ticket proceeds of the show will go towards supporting the establishment of the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre in Cairo. Through this move, the Arab Hope Makers initiative enters a new phase of supporting sustainable humanitarian and social work with long-term goals that benefit a wider scope of people. It creates a wider individual, social and institutional responsibility towards serving humanity.”

She said the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre is a new dedicated facility equipped with the latest surgical technologies and qualified medical cadres. The centre will be among the biggest in the region to provide world-class free-of-charge cardiovascular care to vulnerable communities.

The center will conduct 12,000 heart surgeries annually, of which 70 per cent will target children. Its clinics will also receive over 80,000 patients annually and train over 1,000 cardiologists and cardiac surgeons through the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation.

More than 10 local and regional entities will announce their contribution to Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Center in Egypt during the show.

10 facts about the Arab Hope Makers variety show

1. When and where will it take place?

The Arab Hope Makers final show will take place at Coca-Cola Arena, City Walk Dubai, on Thursday, February 20. The show will start at 6pm.

Coca Cola Arena
Coca Cola Arena, City Walk

2. What is new this year?

The third edition of the Arab Hope Makers initiative will present a unique humanitarian experience with an entertainment touch. The four-hour event will feature:

- Various fun activities

- Humanitarian-related announcements

- Live performances by the big headliners RedOne, Nawal Al Kuwaitia, Balqees and Mohammed Assaf who will bring off their greatest hits and reveal the Arab world’s biggest production that brought together over 50 celebrities in the name of hope.

3. What time will the doors open for the show?

At 4pm on Thursday, February 20. Doors close at 6pm.

4. Will the artists Nawal Al Kuwaitia, Balqees and Mohammed Assaf perform their own music or hits related to the Arab Hope Makers initiative?

The artists will perform their widely admired hits for 30-45 minutes each.

5. What is the idea behind the region’s biggest production to be presented during the Arab Hope Maker final show?

The show will feature the region’s biggest production titled “Hope Makers”, composed and produced by the global artist RedOne. The production brings together more than 50 celebrities from all over the Arab world to perform under the universal themes of hope and humanity. The video production will be broadcast during the show.

6. Will the Arab Hope Maker 2020 be announced during the show?

The Arab Hope Makers final show will highlight the inspiring stories of the five finalists and the audience will vote for the final winner.

7. Will the guest of honour Dr Magdi Yacoub make an appearance during the show?

Dr Magdi Yacoub will be honoured during the final show for his lifetime medical and scientific achievements and contributions to the humanitarian sphere in a career spanning over five decades.

8. Why was the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre in Egypt selected as the Arab Humanitarian Cause of the Year?

For the first time since its inception, the Arab Hope Makers initiative will support a humanitarian cause. This year, the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Center in Cairo was selected due to its role in bringing hope to thousands of lives. The new specialised facility will provide free-of-charge cardiovascular care to patients across the Arab world.

9. Will the event involve raising funds to support the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre?

The show’s proceeds will go towards supporting the construction of the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre in Egypt. Further donations from individuals and entities will be announced during the show.

10. Besides the ticket proceeds, who are the donors contributing to the Arab Hope Makers’ cause?

The donors are exceptional individuals and entities who will announce their contributions to the Arab Hope Makers’ Cause 2020 before 12,000 attendees at Coca-Cola Arena.