Dubai: Dr. Abdulsalam Al Madani wears multiple hats and assumes various responsibilities. Although each holds significance for him, they have all been attained through unwavering determination and dedication.

Among these roles, one that he cherishes deeply is his position as the chairman of the DIHAD Sustainable Humanitarian Organisation.


Global non-profit

The DIHAD Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation, founded by Dr. Al Madani, is guided by a visionary mission that centres on sustainable development and addressing the needs of individuals, especially in nations grappling with crises, disasters, and natural catastrophes.

It is one of the leading global non-profit organisations operating internationally, managing all the charitable, humanitarian, educational, and aid activities. Under the foundation, there are 10 initiatives launched so far:

  • DIHAD Humanitarian College,
  • DIHAD Glasshouse,
  • DIHAD Conference & Exhibition,
  • Continuous Education,
  • DIHAD Hackathon,
  • Humanity without Borders – Tajikistan
  • Humanity without Borders – Jordan
  • Ride for DIHAD – 2017 & 2018

One of the initiatives set up includes The Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibitions (DIHAD) established and organised in Dubai in April 2004.

It was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It was set up to provide a platform where assistance providers can interface with corporate and governmental sectors with a view to creating meaningful synergies in support of those in need,” explained Dr. Al Madani.


The concept of initiating DIHAD, Dr. Al Madani recalled, emerged in 2004.

“It was a time post-9/11 when the world perceived the Muslim world in a different light. I wanted to show the world, we in the Middle East, are full of love, care and humanity. And that is why DIHAD was born,” said Al Madani.

Today, over 1.952 million people have benefited by the DIHAD initiatives, the value of which stands at Dh660 million and counting.

Turning back the clock

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Dr. Al Madani recalled how his journey to success began.

I owe a lot to my father who set a fine example in the family to be independent and successful.

- Dr. Abdulsalam Al Madani

“I owe a lot to my father who set a fine example in the family to be independent and successful.”

Dr. Al Madani said his father, Sheikh Hanafi Al Madani, had his own tailoring and trading business.

“If you ask me what age I started working, it would be at eight years old. After school, I would sit and help around in his business. I travelled to India, Japan to assist my father in his business.”

To this day Dr. Al Madani has kept the vintage manual sewing machine his father used at his tailoring shop in Deira.

“This machine is a family pride. It stitched many royals’ traditional wear. There are several memories attached to this exclusive piece. It is a treasure,” said Dr. Al Madani.

First school

“When people ask where I studied, I tell them my father and his business was my first school. I learn everything I need to know today right here in Murshid Bazaar where my father had a shop. My real education was received here.

“He taught me to treat everyone equal irrespective of their nationality, religion, culture. Hard work, tenacity and loyalty are some things I have imbibed from him.”

Al Madani received his Ph.D. in Humanities at – University of Lugano – Switzerland, as well as an Honorary Degree in Humanities at UCM United Campus of Malta, Doctor of Philosophy in Health Care Management and Master in Hospital Management at Birmingham University.

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Ambassador Dr Abdulsalam Al Madani, Executive Chairman, DIHAD & DISAB Goodwill Ambassador – Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean. Photo taken on July 18, 2023.

Back in time

In 1928, the late Sheikh Shafei Al Madani (grand-father of Dr. Al Madani) and his son Sheikh Hanafi (father of Dr. Al Madani) started a family tailoring and textile trading business in Deira’s Old Souq area.

Al Madani worked tirelessly with his father. “I remember going with my father for work between emirates. Before the Federation we had borders in every emirate. We used to go to Al Ain in a Land Rover. We had border clearance between emirates,” he said.

Dr. Al Madani learnt the family business. In 1983, he established INDEX Trading & Investment. Three years later, INDEX Holding was set up.“Our vision is to work in harmony and be an active contributor to the growth of the national economy,” said Dr. Al Madani.


Over the years, INDEX expanded its companies and line of business. The mother company has 10 subsidiaries under it, focusing on events management, trading and investment, textile trading & tailoring, healthcare management, media and interior design, in addition to a specialised company in designing & building custom-made exhibition stands.

I feel grateful for the great leadership that the UAE has. My family has been successful, thanks to the great leadership of UAE. I feel it is my duty to give back to our community and the world in general. DIHAD is at the helm of it all.

- Dr. Abdulsalam Al Madani

INDEX Conference and Exhibition

In 1991, Dr. Al Madani founded the INDEX conference and exhibition. “The plan was to establish an events company that simultaneously promotes UAE’s promising business prospects, attracts foreign investments, and reinforces the events industry in Dubai and the UAE.

“Although I was assertive about my success, I am very proud today to see the glamorous global recognitions achieved by INDEX Holding throughout the years,” he said with pride.

Al Madani said: “I feel grateful for the great leadership that the UAE has. My family has been successful, thanks to the great leadership of UAE. I feel it is my duty to give back to our community and the world in general. DIHAD is at the helm of it all.”

International, government roles

Dr. Al Madani has been appointed as Roving Ambassador for the GCC Region of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), in recognition of his role in establishing effective cooperation and constructive dialogue between PAM and the countries of the Gulf.

He is also a Board Member of the Dubai Future Council for Humanitarian Aid, an initiative of the Government of Dubai that understands the future of humanitarian services and reformulates the role of aid, civil society and charities to build resilient and sustainable global communities.

Awards and recognitions
• Dubai Appreciation Award for Community Service in the corporate category, by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for Dr. Al Madani’s efforts made in the field of charitable and humanitarian work.

• Community Service Medal, by Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, for his unique contribution and effort in supporting the local initiative which strengthens the position of the UAE on the International level and for the contribution to the success of AQDAR World Summit Moscow 2019.

• PAM Personality Award – Monaco for developing and reinforcing the humanitarian and development sectors during the past 10 years; and for the outstanding contribution to the humanitarian field through the yearly event – DIHAD.