Less than 24 hours after The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian charity, announced a global campaign to provide emergency relief for victims of the devastating explosion that struck Beirut last week, a 90-minute live fundraising event hosted today on Sharjah TV’s popular Direct Line (Al Khat Al Mubasher) programme, has successfully raised AED 30.74 million with dozens of charitable individuals and organizations calling in to make generous contributions.
In a passionate plea made on Tuesday, August 11, at the launch of ‘Salam Beirut’, an emergency aid and relief campaign from Sharjah, H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of TBHF and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, had called upon individuals and organizations in the UAE and around the world to stand in solidarity with Lebanon and to extend their moral and humanitarian support to the victims of the Beirut port blast.
A total of AED 30,741,000 was pledged on the show with Sharjah Islamic Bank donating AED 6 million; while Bank of Sharjah, Humaid Jaafar, and an anonymous philanthropist donated AED 5 million each.
H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, called on Arab countries to stand up and support the Lebanese people in their ordeal so they are not left as other countries were, pointing out that Arabs can heal their wounds with their own hands and that Lebanon was and is still part of the Arab nation and not absent from it.
“I thank Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, for her leading efforts in garnering overwhelming support for our brothers and sisters in Lebanon. I pay tribute to the precious lives lost to this tragedy and wish those who were hurt a speedy recovery,” His Highness continued.
“We thank everyone who has come forward to help Lebanon cope with this unprecedented tragedy through their good deeds and words. This is the time to stand with the Lebanese people, not the time to meddle with politics or past issues. We will be there until you get back on your feet. We are with all those who are calling for reform to end the turmoil in Lebanon,” the Sharjah Ruler added.
“Lebanon, the land of culture and giving, the nation that was once home to all Arabs and has given us numerous poets and artists, is not unknown to anyone,” His Highness continued.
“We are rooting for you Lebanon. We will never abandon you,” HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi asserted.
His Highness concluded the address with the message: “I hope whoever hears my words will support, even if it is with the word. We need to feel that we can heal each other’s wounds, support each other. I wish all of you success until we meet at the celebration that will mark Lebanon’s freedom. That day will come “
Following the launch of the ‘Salam Beirut’ campaign, Sharjah Broadcasting Authority (SBA) announced the unification of broadcasting on all its channels and radio stations on Wednesday, August 12, through the live The Direct Line (Al Khat Al Mubasher) show in support of the efforts to help those affected by the disaster. Accordingly, this popular platform devoted its broadcast hours from 1.30pm to 3pm exclusively to raise funds for this noble initiative.
Renowned personalities and leaders of the Arab world came on air expressing their grief at the disaster and urged their fellow compatriots to lend a helping hand to the ‘Salam Beirut’ campaign, prompting an outpouring of compassion as people phoned in or texted to donate their contributions.
Fouad Chehab Nabih Dandan, Lebanese Ambassador to the UAE, extended the gratitude of Lebanon’s citizens and residents to HH Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi for quickly responding to the situation with the ‘Salam Beirut’ aid and relief campaign.
“Through such deeds, the UAE and it’s leadership epitomize the true spirit of brotherhood and humanity. We laud your nation’s rapid humanitarian response and we equally share the love and sincerity your people have for Lebanon and its people. The UAE has always firmly stood by the Lebanese people through tragedies they have experienced. What you are doing for our people today comes as no surprise to us, and we thank this each and every individual and organization in this generous country who contributed,” he added.
Popular Lebanese soprano singer, Majida El Roumi, remarked that despite living through several trying times in Lebanon, the aftermath of the Beirut explosion is “nothing like what I have seen or experienced before.” “Beirut is devastated. The spirit and hopes of the Lebanese people are crushed,” she added, saying “I look forward that to seeing these charitable donations contributing to reconstructing the homes of people that were damaged before winter, preserving Beirut’s heritage and history and preserving its identity.”
“This campaign, Salam Beirut is not uncommon, coming from Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi and Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi. Her Highness said ‘our [Arab] communities are inseparable’, which is a profound message. Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi is calling for the unity of the Arab world, and if one part is hurt, the rest is bound to suffer,” she concluded.
Mariam Al Hammadi, Director or TBHF emphasized that the entire world, not just the Arab region, was deeply saddened by the Beirut incident. “The innocent victims of this tragedy were caught in a deadly explosion as they were labouring to provide for their families, just going about their day. In seconds, their lives turned upside down.”
“The campaign launched by Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi aims to bring emergency aid and relief to the affected, and represents our humanitarian duty towards Lebanon – a nation that has played a key role in shaping the history, literature, art, culture, and the sciences in the Arab world,” she added.
“We are working meticulously with on-ground organizations and agencies in Lebanon to ensure all donations directly reach the affected. The first phase of Salam Beirut is focusing on providing medical aid, food and water supplies and shelter to victims, and includes rubble removal, the provision of essential services such as electricity, sanitation and plumbing. We thank Sharjah Broadcasting Authority for extending its platform to the Emirati and Arab people to express their solidarity and affirm their principled and proactive role towards benevolence, giving and altruism when it comes to a humanitarian situation of this size,” she concluded.
In an unprecedented show of support, UAE residents and organizations came forward to donate amounts ranging from AED 5,000 to AED 6 million during the 90-minute The Direct Line programme broadcast from Sharjah.
The main donors and funds raised for the ‘Salam Beirut’ campaign are as follows: AED6 million Sharjah Islamic Bank AED5 million Bank of Sharjah Humaid Jaafar, Founder and Chairman of the Crescent Group of companies Anonymous Philanthropist AED2 million Sharjah Broadcasting Authority AED1.5 million Majid Al-Junaid, CEO of Sharjah Coop AED1 million Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Charity International Sharjah American International School AED500,000 Sheikha Maryam bint Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Qasimi Sheikha Nora bint Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi Nama Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) Chamber of Commerce and EXPO Farouj Narkizian, General Manager of Bank of Sharjah Anonymous Philanthropist AED250,000 Fathi Afana, CEO, Fast Building Contracting company Beeah Sharjah Environment Company LLC (Bee’ah) AED100,000 Rashed Al Mehyan, Chairman of the Parents’ Council in the Central Region Alba Tower Aluminium Factory Emirates Metallic Industries Co. (EMIC) Al Midfa Investments Group LLC The staff of National Network Communications (NNC PR)