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His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi has called upon Arab countries to stand up and support the Lebanese people. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Less than 24 hours after The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity, announced a global campaign to provide emergency relief for victims of the devastating explosion that struck Beirut last week, a 90-minute live fundraising event hosted today on Sharjah TV’s popular The Direct Line (Al Khat Al Mubasher) programme, has raised Dh30.74 million with dozens of charitable individuals and organisations calling in to make generous contributions.

In a passionate plea made on Tuesday, at the launch of ‘Salam Beirut’, an emergency aid and relief campaign from Sharjah, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of TBHF and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had called upon individuals and organisations in the UAE and around the world to stand in solidarity with Lebanon and to extend their moral and humanitarian support to the victims of the Beirut port blast.

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A total of Dh30,741,000 was pledged on the show with Sharjah Islamic Bank donating Dh6 million; while Bank of Sharjah, Humaid Jaafar, and an anonymous philanthropist donated Dh5 million each.

His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, called on Arab countries to stand up and support the Lebanese people in their ordeal so they are not left out as other countries were, pointing out that Arabs can heal their wounds with their own hands and that Lebanon was and is still part of the Arab world and not absent from it.

“I thank Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, for her leading efforts in garnering overwhelming support for our brothers and sisters in Lebanon. I pay tribute to the precious lives lost to this tragedy and wish those who were hurt a speedy recovery,” Sheikh Sultan continued.

“We thank everyone who has come forward to help Lebanon cope with this unprecedented tragedy through their good deeds and words. This is the time to stand with the Lebanese people, not the time to meddle with politics or past issues. We will be there until you get back on your feet. We are with all those who are calling for reform to end the turmoil in Lebanon,” the Sharjah Ruler added.

“Lebanon, the land of culture and giving, the nation that was once home to all Arabs and has given us numerous poets and artists, is not unknown to anyone,” he said.

“We are rooting for you Lebanon. We will never abandon you,” Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi asserted.

The Ruler of Sharjah concluded his address with the message: “I hope whoever hears my words will support, even if it is with words. We need to feel that we can heal each other’s wounds, support each other. I wish all of you success until we meet at the celebration that will mark Lebanon’s freedom. That day will come.”

Following the launch of the ‘Salam Beirut’ campaign, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA) announced the unification of broadcasting on all its channels and radio stations on Wednesday through the live The Direct Line (Al Khat Al Mubasher) show in support of the efforts to help those affected by the disaster. Accordingly, this popular platform devoted its broadcast hours from 1.30pm to 3pm, exclusively to raise funds for this noble initiative.

Renowned personalities and leaders of the Arab world came on air expressing their grief at the disaster and urged their fellow compatriots to lend a helping hand to the ‘Salam Beirut’ campaign, prompting an outpouring of compassion as people phoned in or texted to donate their contributions.

Fouad Chehab Nabih Dandan, the Lebanese Ambassador to the UAE, extended the gratitude of Lebanon’s citizens and residents to Sheikha Jawaher for quickly responding to the situation with the ‘Salam Beirut’ aid and relief campaign.

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Fouad Chehab Nabih Dandan, the Lebanese Ambassador to the UAE, speaks on the fund-raising campaign on television. Image Credit: Supplied

“Through such deeds, the UAE and it’s leadership epitomise the true spirit of brotherhood and humanity. We laud your nation’s rapid humanitarian response and we equally share the love and sincerity your people have for Lebanon and its people,” he said.

Popular Lebanese soprano singer Majida El Roumi remarked that despite living through several trying times in Lebanon, the aftermath of the Beirut explosion is “nothing like what I have seen or experienced before”. “Beirut is devastated. The spirit and hopes of the Lebanese people are crushed,” she said, adding: “I look forward to seeing these charitable donations contributing to reconstructing the homes of the people that were damaged before winter, preserving Beirut’s heritage and history and preserving its identity.”

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Popular Lebanese soprano singer Majida El Roumi speaks at the fund-raiser. Image Credit: Supplied

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Mariam Al Hammadi, director or TBHF, emphasised that the entire world, not just the Arab region, was deeply saddened by the Beirut incident. He said: “The campaign launched by Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi aims to bring emergency aid and relief to the affected, and represents our humanitarian duty towards Lebanon — a nation that has played a key role in shaping the history, literature, art, culture and the sciences in the Arab world,” she added.

Salam Beirut donors

In an unprecedented show of support, UAE residents and organisations came forward to donate amounts ranging from Dh5,000 to Dh6 million during the 90-minute ‘The Direct Line’.

The main donors and funds raised for ‘Salam Beirut’:
Dh6 million: Sharjah Islamic Bank
Dh5 million: Bank of Sharjah, Humaid Jaafar, founder and chairman of Crescent Group of companies, an anonymous philanthropist.
Dh2 million: Sharjah Broadcasting Authority
Dh1.5 million: Majid Al-Junaid, CEO of Sharjah Cooperative.
Dh1 million: Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, chairman of Sharjah Charity International, Sharjah American International School.
Dh500,000: Sheikha Maryam bint Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Sheikha Nora bint Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Nama Women Advancement Establishment, Chamber of Commerce and Expo, Farouj Narkizian, general manager of Bank of Sharjah, an anonymous philanthropist
Dh250,000: Fathi Afana, CEO, Fast Building Contracting company, Beeah Sharjah Environment Company LLC.
Dh100,000: Rashed Al Mehyan, chairman of the Parents’ Council in the Central Region, Alba Tower Aluminium Factory, Emirates Metallic Industries Co. (EMIC), Al Midfa Investments Group LLC, staff of National Network Communications.