His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai with Arab Hope Makers award winners. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Mahmoud Wahid’s efforts in helping and providing shelter for over 1,000 homeless elderly in Egypt made him win the title of the Arab world’s biggest “hope maker.”

Mahmoud Wahid, winner of the Arab Hope Makers project 2018, talks about how he plans to spend the prize of Dh1 million on his work

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai presented the winner from Egypt with Dh1 million prize during the grand finale of the largest Arab initiative dedicated to celebrating philanthropic efforts.

Mahmoud Wahid wins Hope Maker Award in Dubai, brings home Dh1 million to take his project further. Rabab Khan

Wahid bested four other finalists chosen by a panel of judges. 

"We are going to keep growing this project until we see Egypt without any displaced or homeless people," says Wahid told Gulf News.

Dh1 million each for other finalists

Shaikh Mohammad also announced that all five finalists will get Dh1 million each for dedicating their time to serving others in their communities. 

Egypt's Mahmoud Wahid, winner of Arab Hope Maker Award, talks to Dubai media following the awards ceremony.  Rabab Khan

Dh50 million for Arab Hope Makers Academy

Shaikh Mohammad also announced the launch of Arab Hope Makers Academy with Dh50 million to be granted to the academy to support all Arab Hope Makers who work to help others in need across the Arab world. 

The five finalists were Nawal Mustafa from Egypt, Manal Musalem from Kuwait, and Siham Gerges from Iraq. 

The top 5 nominees for the 2018 Arab Hope Makers Award announced in Dubai on Monday night. Rabab Khan

Wahid is director at Ma3ana, a Cairo charity that helps homeless people  — providing them with food, medical aid, shelter, and even psychological help.

Wahid has helped over 1,000 homeless elderly in Egypt and built a shelter for them.

Five finalists

The five finalists at Arab Hope Makers Award were narrowed down from 15 at the ceremony.  They were selected from among 87,000 participants from 15 Arab and 20 other countries.

Nawal Mustafa, an Arab Hope Makers Award finalist from Egypt. Rabab Khan

Nawal Mustafa from Egypt: Is a journalist who shed light on an unseen population “poverty prisoners”. She organised the first efforts in Egypt to change the treatment of female prisoners as well as their young children living with them.

Many of them were in jail for unpaid cheques and because of ignorance.

She carried 500 initiatives to support them and helped arrange the release of 1,000 women. She trained many of them so they can work and make their own money

Manal Al Musalem, an Arab Hope Makers Award nominee from Kuwait. Rabab Khan

Manal Musalem from Kuwait lost her child after she drowned in the sea and this inspired her to turn her pain to hope for others.

She focused her work on helping Syrian refugees suffering from poverty and established Dana Volunteering Group though which she was able to help more than 350,000 people, 52,000 families in need, and 5,000 children. 

Siham Gerges, from Iraq, an Arab Hope Makers Award nominee.  Rabab Khan

Siham Gerges from Iraq, a former beauty queen, dedicated years of her life supporting Iraqis living in dire conditions.

Through her humanitarian work, 103,000 people had benefited. She also helped treat 200 people with serious health conditions. She also built 15 shelters for widows and orphans.

Faris Ali, from Sudan, is the 5th nominee in the Arab Hopemakers Award 2018. Rabab Khan

Fares Ali from Sudan focused fighting hunger in schools which caused many students to drop out and not continue their education.

It all began with a sandwich that later ended with an association that distributes sandwiches to schools. His works covered 123 schools.

In the last eight years, he has distributed 40 million sandwiches.

Palestinian pop star Mohammad Assaf performs at the Arab Hope Makers Award in Dubai on Monday night. Rabab Khan

The finalists at the Arab Hope Makers 2018 Award in Dubai  Rabab Khan

An audience of over 3,5000 cheered as the winner was selected after an audience voting process and points given by a three-member panel of judges.

The stories of all five finalists were shared during the ceremony, which revealed the dire challenges that many people in the Arab world face, as well as their commitment and humanitarian spirit to generously give their time and effort to overcome obstacles and spread optimism and hope

Their stories showed the remarkable humanitarian works they have done to help people in their communities

The award is meant to help the winner continue the efforts to spread hope and help those in need.

Announcing the second “Arab Hope Makers” initiative back in February, Shaikh Mohammad invited inspiring individuals aged 5-95 years to submit their applications for the title.

Many of the submitted nominations revealed the stories of individuals who profoundly improved the lives of others in their communities.

This year, the highest number of submissions came from Saudi Arabia (over 18 per cent), Egypt (12 per cent), Algeria (10 per cent), Morocco (9 per cent) and the UAE (over 8 per cent).

Sectors covered

The initiatives and projects of Hope Makers spanned different sectors, ranging from projects and programmes in the fields of education, relief, environment, health, medicine, culture and art.

Of all the diverse projects and initiatives received, the highest number were related to community service (36 per cent), followed by education (12 per cent) and health (over 5 per cent). Other initiatives focused on the environment, culture, youth and women’s empowerment, etc.

The grand finale was attended by top officials, various dignitaries and representatives from local and regional, including Lt-General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

Candidates passed several qualifying rounds before making it to the final ceremony. The finalists underwent a comprehensive evaluation, including field visits to follow up on initiatives and documents.

During the awards ceremony, Emirati recording artist Hussain Al Jasmi sang a song, specially written for the occasion that honours the champions of humanitarian and community action.

Other renowned Arab artists including Palestinian pop star Mohammad Assaf, Iraqi singer and songwriter Hatem Al Iraqi, Ahmad Jamal and Yemeni singer Fouad Abdul Wahed participated in the finale.

A view of the stage at the Arab Hope Makers Awards night at the Dubai Studio City.  Falah Gulzar

They could also work towards relieving the suffering of a particular social group, develop a social, economic, cultural or educational environment, or contribute to solving any challenge faced by his or her community, in a non-profit and volunteer capacity.

Under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, this second edition of the initiative recorded more than 87,000 participants.

The announcement sparked an unprecedented response with thousands of social media users nominating candidates, suggesting ideas and asking questions.

Saudi Arabia topped the list of candidates for the Arab Hope Makers, exceeding 18 per cent of the total number of initiatives, followed by Egypt in second place with about 12 per cent. The UAE ranked fifth with more than 8 per cent of the nominations.

A replica of the trophy the winner of the Arab Hope Makers award will bring home on Monday night.  Rabab Khan

Crowd at the Arab hope makers award. Virendra Saklani/Gulf News/Gulf News


The Arab Hope Makers entries comprised diverse humanitarian and community initiatives, focusing on vital sectors that meet the most pressing needs of their specific environment.

Launched last year, the initiative seeks to send a message of hope to the entire region by celebrating and highlighting the people who dedicate themselves to helping others and spreading optimism and positivity in their communities

Its message is to channel hope to fight despair, frustration and pessimism, and to enhance optimism, strengthen the culture of giving, and provide the opportunity for positive change through the people who spread those aspirations with their initiatives and projects.

The initiative falls under Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI).

It seeks to honour the people who are combating social, economic, health and psychological issues with humanitarian initiatives, empowering marginalised groups in society, alleviating the suffering of the poor and sick, and investing altruistically in the neglected segments of their communities.