UAE: Popular Indian university alumni to celebrate unified Founder's Day

Sir Syed Day will be celebrated on November 18 in Sharjah

by

Mazhar Farooqui

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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Published: Wed 15 Nov 2023, 9:38 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Nov 2023, 3:24 PM

For years, UAE-based alumni of India's renowned Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) were divided into two camps, each hosting separate events for their Founder's Day. However, this long-standing practice has come to an end. This year, there will be a unified celebration to mark the 206th anniversary of the 19th-century educationist Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

Approximately 5,000 AMU alumni known as Aligs reside in the UAE, with about twice that number in the GCC. Globally, students and alumni of AMU come together to celebrate the birthday of the revered founder, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) on October 17.

A central aspect of these celebrations is the Sir Syed Day dinner, a cherished tradition marred in previous years by discontent and threats of event boycotts within the UAE’s AMU alumni community.

This year, however, such concerns have been put to rest. A singular event is set to take place at Hotel Holiday International in Sharjah on November 18, albeit one month after the official Founder's Day.

Farrukh Kidwai, a Dubai resident and Ex-AMU court member (1990), welcomed this development with enthusiasm stating: “It’s very heartening. The Founder’s Day should have always been observed under one banner. Hosting two events only caused divisions and ran counter to the very principles of unity and brotherhood that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan stood for.“
Mashkoor Hasan, an AMU graduate from 1983, said he has stayed away from previous Founder’s Day events to avoid group affiliations. While pleased with the decision to organise a single event, he said, "I am happy but I am unlikely to attend.”

Mohammad Haroon Akmal from the organising committee said that Dr Devesh Vasta, a retired Air Vice Marshal and ex-AMU student, will be the chief guest at the upcoming programme. Bollywood actor Jaaved Jaaferi will conduct the event.

Highlights of the evening include a humorous skit and the release of the English translation of a book written by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Imteyaz Siddiqui, managing director of Alnonova, expressed eagerness for the event stating: "Whatever we are in our life today is only because of the university."

Playwright, director, and theatre actor Dr Sayeed Alam said Sir Syed's mission and vision have enabled millions to lead dignified lives through education.

Syed Ahmad Taqvi Bin Syed Muhammad Muttaqi, commonly known as Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, is regarded as the pioneer of modern education among Indian Muslims. In 1875, he founded a school which later went on to become the Aligarh Muslim University. Located in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, AMU has around 30,000 students.

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