Under the patronage of His Highness The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Reach Out to Asia (ROTA), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, held its fifth Gala Dinner and charity event, last night, at Ali Bin Abdullah Palace in Doha. This year’s Gala Dinner theme was “Plant a Book, Harvest a Future” The event aimed to raise funds for ROTA's educational activities and projects in Asia and to support the educational needs of children who have been affected by wars and political conflicts in Asia. Collected funds are used for building and renovating schools, encouraging their reentry into education as well as providing employment opportunities for workers in the field of education.
Demonstrating the importance of ROTA's noble mission and their support of it, a number of leading Qatari companies sponsored the Gala Dinner including Qatar Petroleum (QP) the event’s strategic sponsor and Qatar Petroleum International (QPI), the event’s official sponsor. Over 450 guests, dignitaries, celebrities and elite members of Qatari society and the Arab region attended the successful event. The opening speech was delivered by H.E. Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry. The dinner was also attended by a number of celebrities and globally prominent personalities, most notably HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.
In addition, the event was attended by a group of celebrities including Mr. Wissam Al Mana and his wife, Janet Jackson; Ms. Caroline Sheffield, Chairperson of Chopard International Foundation; Tunisian singer and philanthropist, Latifa; poet, TV presenter and philanthropist, Lojain Omran, who is also known for her campaigns supporting Syrian refugees; and Syrian artist, Jamal Suleiman. The moderator of the event was well-known media figure and poet, Parween Habib. The gala featured performances by Yemeni artist and composer, Ahmed Fathi, as well as German composer and violinist, David Garrett.
The theme of this year’s Gala Dinner was "Plant a Book, Harvest a Future”. HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairperson of Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) delivered a key-note speech highlighting the value of charitable and volunteer work and the importance of what ROTA and its volunteers are doing to serve Qatari and Arab society. HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, presented ROTA's "Lifetime Achievement" award to HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, in recognition of his dedication and devotion to development and charitable work and support of ROTA's mission.
HE Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani expressed her pleasure with the success of this event: "This year the event was honoured by the presence of His Highness, the Amir of Qatar, which gives us an additional motivation and confidence in what we do and what we are aiming for. Moreover, this underlines His Highness’s interest in what Reach Out To Asia has been doing to support the historic role of Qatar in its unique geographical location, as well as what ROTA is doing in support of volunteer work."
She added: "On behalf of the people of Qatar, ROTA is honoured to award HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, in recognition of his great and fruitful efforts and dedication. HRH is a role model and a bright example for us all and a proof that hard work, dedication and thorough vision can create a stable, prosperous and healthy society." HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal expressed his happiness when receiving the award saying: “It embodies the deep relations between Kingdom Holding, the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, and Qatar on the professional and charitable levels. This relationship was deeply rooted with HH The Father Amir and will be continued with HH The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.” He added: “I extend my deepest gratitude to HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani for this recognition in the field of humanitarianism.”
At the end of the event, world famous auction house Sotheby’s conducted a charity auction. A total amount of 21 million USD was raised through the sale of auction items including an Arabian horse, Njoud Al Shaqab, donated by Al Shaqab; a custom-made Hermès saddle donated by Mr. Wissam Saleh Al Mana; a Mini Cooper designed specially by artist Damien Hirst, donated by Alfardan Automobiles: a safari trip for two to South Africa donated by luxurious hotels Singita and the One & Only Resort. In addition, there were two tickets to attend a football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, donated by Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy; a black gold necklace designed by Robert Procop and donated by American actress, Angelina Jolie; and a motorcycle signed by world champion Grand Prix motorcycle road racer, Giacomo Agostini.
Some surprises at the event included Latifa wearing special earrings donated by Chopard. The earrings are characterized by their unique design. In addition, Al Mannai Group donated an amazing pure gold and gemstone masterpiece. All event seats were sold. In fact, the price of front row seats reached sixty thousand USD per seat. The charity auction was also held for the first time to directly support ROTA's education projects in Syria, Palestine, Tunisia, Nepal and Pakistan.
Speaking to media before the event, ROTA's Director, Essa Al Mannai, said: "Funds we raised tonight will directly support ROTA's ongoing and future projects in Asia and the Middle East. Despite the difficulties faced by the global economy in recent years, we are delighted that our guests, sponsors and donors have shown eagerness and enthusiasm to defend the importance of education and raise awareness of ROTA's work."