Dubai: Emirati philanthropist gets Mother Teresa International Award for social work

Two more UAE residents, Emirati Sheikh Ahmed Bin Faisal Al Qassimi and British painter Sacha Jafri, receive awards in the culture category


Mazhar Farooqui

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Published: Mon 28 Aug 2023, 6:28 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Aug 2023, 6:29 PM

The Mother Teresa International Awards 2023 celebrated the accomplishments of 18 outstanding individuals, with Emirati philanthropist Ahmed Al Falasi at the forefront for his contributions to social work. Al Falasi, recognised as the Arab Hope Maker in 2020, garnered this honour for his humanitarian efforts in establishing advanced kidney dialysis centres and incubators in Kenya's Mombasa.

Joining the ranks of awardees were two esteemed UAE residents, Emirati Sheikh Ahmed Bin Faisal Al Qassimi and British painter Sacha Jafri. Both were lauded in the culture category. The accolades were presented during a ceremony held at Dubai's Conrad Hotel on August 26, which was the 113th birth anniversary of Mother Teresa, a global icon known for her selfless devotion.

These awards were organised by the All-India Minority and Weaker Sections Council, a non-political organisation founded by Late Prafulla Chandra Sen, a former chief minister of West Bengal, and Mr. Anthony Arun Biswas, alongside other dignitaries.

Mother Teresa, beatified by Pope John Paul II as Saint Teresa, was born on August 26, 1910. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, a humanitarian organisation that grew to include over 4,500 nuns serving in 133 countries. Her life's work revolved around assisting the most impoverished individuals, receiving honours such as the Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Notably, this marked the first instance of the award ceremony being hosted outside of India. After Saint Teresa's passing in 1997, the council established the Mother Teresa International and Millennium Award Committee. This committee was entrusted with the task of annually recognising exceptional individuals who have excelled in the fields of education, science, culture, sports, social work, medicine, industry, and politics in India.

Prior to this event, the Harmony Organisation, which also presents awards in Mother Teresa's name, expressed concerns regarding the August 26 event in Dubai. They asserted that it lacked the endorsement or recognition of the Missionaries of Charity, the Catholic religious institute established by Mother Teresa herself in 1950. This institute, now under the Catholic Church's recognition as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, exclusively supports Harmony Organisation's awards, they said, emphasising that any other award ceremony could tarnish the legacy of the revered Saint.

However, the organisers of the Mother Teresa International Awards unequivocally refuted these claims. Dr. T.H. Ireland, Principal of St. James' School in Kolkata and chairman of the awards committee told Khaleej Times: “Nobody can lay sole claim to Mother Teresa. She was a universal icon. Our award ceremony has a 22-year history of recognising luminaries such as Dr Manmohan Singh, the former Prime Minister of India, and Ms. Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.”

During a press conference earlier, Indian playback singer Usha Uthup shared her profound connection with Mother Teresa, spanning four decades. She recalled visiting Mother Teresa at the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata during both her trying and triumphant times. Usha Uthup said she had the privilege of being present during her passing and her canonisation.

Dubai businessman and cricket enthusiast Shyam Bhatia fondly remembered his visits to Mother Teresa and her simple yet powerful message: “We don't want your money; we want your time.”

Sacha Jafri, the Dubai-based world-renowned artist, who intends to place the first official artwork on the moon, expressed his delight at receiving this prestigious award.

The ceremony's highlights included dance performances by the mother-daughter actor-artiste duo Indrani Dutta and Rajnandini Paul, as well as Bollywood actor Kalpana Iyer and Usha Uthup, creating a memorable blend of song and dance.


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