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Sheikh Hamdan: A champion of Arab girls’ education

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“I feel extremely happy and comfortable when I help fill the heart of a deprived individual with joy and happiness in building a school for those who couldn’t get education or construct a Masjid to the faithful who couldn’t raise enough funds to build their own house of worship.”

These are the words of the late Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, who had long-since championed the cause of raising the level of education with science and knowledge through schools, colleges and Islamic centers around the world.

I have been very fortunate to get an insider’s view into what goes on behind the historic walls of some of the col-leges that Sheikh Hamdan had invested in the UAE and around the world in a bid to empower Arab women.

Even since Sheikh Hamdan established the Al Maktoum Foundation, under which he indulged in his philanthropic vision, the foundation has helped aid positive dialogues across cultures and people at an intellectual level with the aim of enhancing greater understanding and appreciation between communities, and in particular between the Arab and Muslim worlds and the West.

As a regular visitor to the Al Maktoum College in Dundee and its annual graduation ceremony conducted under the Chairmanship of Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of Sheikh Hamdan’s Office, I was fortunate to experience and share in the joy of the hundreds of women from around the UAE and Arab world, as they were awarded their life-changing certificates.

In fact, most of the graduates would use the words ‘life-changing’ to describe their internship at the historic col-lege.

Sheikh Hamdan always wanted the relationship between Scotland and the UAE to showcase the bonding of glob-al, cross-cultural understanding and cooperation. The Al Maktoum College in Dundee is a shining example of his vision in showing how relationships have been built between the Emirati and Scottish cultures to benefit educa-tion.

Sheikh Hamdan also built and developed educational institutions in Tanzania, Jordan and Sudan among other countries.

Al Maktoum Foundation projects include providing humanitarian aid to needy families and to ensure the safe-keeping of orphans and the handicapped through specially organised campaigns.

To attempt to list Sheikh Hamdan’s philanthropic achievements and accomplishments would be a great injustice as the passion and personal touch that he brought to education, empowerment and charities goes beyond de-scription.

Sheikh Hamdan will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live forever.

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