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TAGS: Eman Ahmed Al Obaidli , Sara Mohammed Al-Shamlan , Helen Shehadeh

Qatari Women Honoured for Outstanding Humanitarian Work

21st Century Leaders Foundation will honour three extraordinary women at their inaugural awards ceremony taking place on 30th October 2009 at Grand Hyatt Doha.

Qataris Eman Ahmed Al Obaidli and Sara Mohammed Al-Shamlan, and Palestinian Helen Shehadeh will be the first recipients of the Unsung Hero Award at the Doha 21st Century Awards ceremony. The Doha 21st Century Leaders Awards was established this year to mark the humanitarian and environmental achievements of individuals who have made a serious commitment and a significant impact to their chosen cause.

Eman Ahmed Al Obaidli, a retired elementary school teacher has spent the last seven years engaging the people of Qatar in becoming more aware of children with physical disabilities. Eman has made it her mission to increase the sensitivity and understanding of the Qatari community towards people born with physical disabilities. Eman has also raised significant awareness within Qatar for Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare spinal disorder that affects her son Ghanim. With her son as a constant source of inspiration and with a strong belief in his independence, Eman has founded Ghanim’s Wheelchair Foundation which has donated hundreds of wheelchairs to other special needs societies in the gulf region. She also started Ghanim’s Sport Club in 2008 to allow both physically disabled and able bodied children to join in together in activities as varied as karate, skateboarding and basketball. In the future, Eman’s vision for Qatar’s community includes independent accessibility for wheelchairs and integrated sport clubs.

The second unsung hero to be awarded this year is sixteen year old Sara Mohammed Al-Shamlan, a student from Qatar Academy, who harnessed her passion of photography to raise awareness of some of the poorer expatriate Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi children in Qatar. Initially started for a community service project for school, she documented a number of young children in the Abu Hamour area of Doha and went on to sell the prints in her father’s jewellery shop and at a jewellery exhibition. Sara very quickly raised a huge amount of money that was used to provide the children with a proper education and basic necessities such as shoes and toys. Daughter of well-known Qatari businessman Mohamed Marzooq Al Shamlan, Managing Director of Marzooq Al Shamlan & Sons (MSS), Sara considers her father a major catalyst for her way of thinking. Sara’s work is supported by the Qatar Charity.

The third recipient of the Unsung Hero award is Helen Shehadeh, a Palestinian woman who at the age of seventy-five is actively continuing her lifes work teaching blind students. At the age of two, Helen herself lost her eyesight overnight as a result of a diphtheria epidemic. In 1981, Helen founded the Al Shurooq School for the Blind which aimed to provide blind and visually impaired children with an appropriate education and equal opportunity, while rehabilitating and integrating them into the local community. During the Gaza conflict, many students were cut off from Al Shurooq, and Helen made the decision to re-locate the school to a small villa in Beit Jala in order to continue providing them with an education. At the time of the move, Helen adopted a severely disabled child that had been abandoned by her parents and brought her with her to the villa and continued to look after her until she sadly passed away. At the time of the move, Helen was already past retirement age, and it was due to her ongoing dedication and commitment that the school continued to flourish, and they have recently been able to move into a new purpose built facility thanks to her hard work.

Other award recipients on the night include film stars Josh Hartnett and Sir Ben Kingsley and film makers Danny Boyle and Christian Colson, who will be the first recipients of Doha 21st Century Leader Awards to be presented in a special gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt Doha on the same night.

The 21st Century Leaders Foundation are working in partnership with the Friends of the Environment Center and Qatar Charity, who are supporting one of the recipients of the Unsung Hero Award Sara Mohammed Al-Shamlan, to host the awards and a series of events that will help to raise awareness of humanitarian and environmental causes.

The 21st Century Leaders Foundation was started in 2003 by Charlotte di Vita MBE and leverages the influence of well-known figures of popular culture to promote and encourage positive change for humanitarian and environmental issues facing the world today.


For more information please contact :

Patsy Bateman (English) on or +974 3233935

Farah Faisal Aburamadan
(Arabic) on or +974 582 4582

21st Century Leaders Foundation

Founded by Charlotte di Vita in 2003, when Nelson Mandela appointed her as a Goodwill Ambassador to his Children’s Fund, the 21st Century Leaders Foundation aims to leverage the influence of leaders in their field and popular culture to cause positive change. 21st Century Leaders Foundation’s mission is to assist and encourage a generation of influencers – royalty, Nobel peace prize laureates, and well-known figures in the fields of film, music, fashion, art and literature - to raise awareness and funds for international development causes, thereby leading the way in promoting positive environmental and sustainable human development solutions.

Friends of the Environment Center (FEC)

Friends of the Environment Center (FEC) was established in 1992 in Doha as a non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to environmental protection and conservation. FEC aims to play an effective role in collaboration with governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with the environment in the State of Qatar., to maximise environmental safety, health and natural beauty and to reach the best possible level of sustainable development for the enjoyment and well-being of man. The center depends on voluntary work to carry out its activities. It is a member of the Arab Federation for Youth and Environment and has been designated as the Regional Coordination Office for the GCC countries. It is a founder member of the Gulf’s NGOs Environmental Network and maintains active cooperation with several regional and international organisations, in particular UNEP, UNESCO and ROPME.

Qatar Charity

Qatar Charity
(QC) is a non-government organisation which was established in 1992 in order to support the Qatari society and other needy communities abroad. Its mission is to support the abilities of the most needy groups to fulfil human dignity and social justice in cooperation with partners. Its vision is to be an example, a pioneering, distinguished Islamic institution which combines originality, creativity and professionalism in the field of humanitarian aid and development. QC is one of the largest charities in the Gulf, its activities covering more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe, through its registered field offices in various countries or local civil societies as implementing partners. QC is registered in Qatar and governed by law No (2) of 1974, which is amended by decree-law No (17) 1989, and law No (8) of 1998, which regulates work of private societies and foundations. QC has been in consultative status with UN ECOSOC since 1997.

Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes is a unique artwork campaign launched by 21st Century Leaders Foundation. Over 600 leaders in the worlds of fashion, film, television, art, music and sport, have donated their artworks and have signed messages of hope for the future. This artwork is used to design and create a variety of lifestyle products which are then sold to raise funds through 4000 retail partners which includes Harrods, Selfridges, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Lane Crawford and David Jones amongst others. Whatever It Takes works closely with their leaders to assist and encourage a generation of influencers to take ownership, engage in positive action, raise awareness among their communities, and champion the solutions to poverty and environmental degradation. Whatever It Takes raises funds for key global development causes, including poverty alleviation, the protection of children, and environmental conservation.

Grand Hyatt Doha

Blending traditional and modern architecture, Grand Hyatt Doha is a business hotel in the new district of West Bay Lagoon. A mix used complex of 249 guestrooms and 91 residences including 39 suites and 43 executive club rooms. It boasts of four restaurants that are individually designed with show kitchens featuring international cuisines, a lobby lounge and a bar with walk-in cigar room. The hotel has extensive conferences facilities in 11 meeting rooms and a 1,500 sq m ballroom. The hotel has extensive leisure facilities including a Hyatt Pure day spa, private beach, three outdoor swimming pools and health club with indoor lap pool.

For more information about the hotel and to make a reservation, call +974 448 1234 or visit