TAKREEM – Inspiring Generations

TAKREEM was founded with the aim of celebrating the Arab men and women who are making history in their own way and domain. After touring most of the Arab region for the past decade and despite the strenuous year that the world in general and Lebanon in particular went through, the Foundation stays true to its mission and has strived to recognize and honor the unsung heroes of the Arab World during its yearly Award Ceremony. Initially scheduled for November 2019 and postponed time and again due to the unrelentless series of crises  that have shaken us since last October, this ceremony was the first to be exclusively filmed in a studio and aired on LBCI on November 29th, 2020, with laureates and community members from all around the world virtually taking part in this ceremony of a new kind.“تكريم” تحتفي بالإبداع العربي في بيروت

This year, the following laureates have been recognized for their achievements:

  • Maestro Karim Wasfi– Iraq for the Cultural Excellence Award
  • Khalidy Library – Palestine for the Cultural Excellence Award
  • Mr. Rami Al-Qawasmi – Jordan for the Young Entrepreneur Award
  • Mr. Husham Al Thahabi – Iraq for the Humanitarian and Civic Services Award
  • Ms. Essma Ben Hamida – Tunisia for the Outstanding Arab Woman Award
  • Dr. Haifa Jamal Al Alil – KSA for the Excellence in Education Award
  • INJAZ Al Arab – Jordan for the Excellence in Education Award
  • Prof. Mazin Qumsyeh – Palestine for the Environmental Development and Sustainability Award
  • The Association for The Protection of The Environment – APE – Egypt for the Environmental Development and Sustainability Award
  • Hilal Lashuel – Yemen for the Scientific and Technological Achievement Award
  • Mentor Foundation – Sweden for the International Contribution to Arab Society Award
  • George Bitar – Lebanon for the Corporate Leadership Award

Dr. Claude Doumet Serhal (Lebanon) received a Special Distinction and the late Mr. Stephane Attali (France) was awarded posthumously for their remarkable contribution to the cultural and educational worlds respectively.

TAKREEM 2019 Jury Board is composed of Dr. Paul Salem, Dr. Ahmed Heikal, Lady Hayat Palumbo, HRH Princess Alia Tabbaa, HE Sheikha Paula Al Sabah, Mr. Khaled Janahi, Mr. Abdul Hamied Ahmed Seddiqi, Mrs. Paula Al Askari, Ms. Fadumo Dayib, Mr. Emile Haddad, HE Mr. Aziz Mekouar, Mr. Shwan Taha, Mr. Rafik Ben Ayed, Mr. Raja Sidawi, HE Sheikh Saleh Al-Turki, Dr. Akef El Maghraby, Mrs. Maha Kaddoura, HE Dr. Hilal Al Sayer and HE Dr. Farida Allaghi.

TAKREEM 2019 Honorary Board is presided by HM Queen Noor Al-Hussein and includes HE Shaikha Mai Al-Khalifa, Mr. Samer Khoury, HE Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Dr. Suad Juffali, HE Dr. Amre Moussa, Dr. Nouha AlHegelan, Mrs. Nora Joumblatt, Mr. Marc Levy, Sheikh Khaled Al-Olayan, Mr. Riad Al-Sadik, HE Dr. Lakhdar Brahimi and HE President Dr. Barham Salih.

  • Maestro Karim Wasfi– Iraq for the Cultural Excellence Award

Karim Wasfi is a renowned cellist and conductor. Founder of Peace Through Arts Foundation and a fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, he is a global peace building visionary. Maestro Wasfi was the Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra from 2007 until 2016. In 2005, he established the Italy-Iraq Scholarship program in Modena, as well as reopened the British Council office in 2005.

Karim has more than two decades of experience in cultural diplomacy. He uses unique music and sound approaches for healing and cross-cultural integration, deradicalization, prevention of tension, and counterterrorism.

His approach, innovative as it is, has helped thousands of people in crisis areas to rise from violence, fear, and intimidation, and unleash their ability. In music, sound, and arts therapy, they were able to find their creative and peaceful selves. His work and initiatives have been widely covered by BBC, CNN, New York Times, Forbes and others. Videos of him playing music in the aftermath of explosions in Iraq went viral on YouTube, with more than 33 million views. In recognition for his transformative positive difference for the future of humanity and the world, Maestro Wasfi was honored as the 2018 global diplomat of cultural diplomacy in Abu Dhabi, the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year by the Arabian Global Business Community, and others. He studied Physics and Philosophy at Cairo University and holds an MA in Music Performance and Conducting from the world prestigious Indiana University School of Music, in Bloomington Indiana, USA.

  • Khalidi Library – Palestine for the Cultural Excellence Award

The Khalidi Library, al-Maktaba al-Khalidiyya, was established in 1899 by Hajj Raghib al-Khalidi, as a public trust or waqf. The library was intended to encourage learning and to help restore prosperity to the Arab world by fostering knowledge, and enabling people to match the powerful cultural establishments created by foreign powers throughout the region.

The announcement of the public opening of the Khalidi Library in 1900 stressed the linkage between libraries and culture going back to the era of the Greeks and the early Islamic era. Today, after extensive renovation, cataloguing and preservation measures, the Library is again ready to welcome scholars from around the world.

The Khalidi Library was made possible thanks to a sum bequeathed to Hajj Raghib al-Khalidi by his grandmother, Khadija al-Khalidi, daughter of Musa Effendi alKhalidi, who was Kadiasker of Anatolia in 1832. It was based on family holdings of manuscripts and books collected over many generations by Muhammad San’Allah, Muhammad Ali, Yusuf Diya Pasha, Musa Shafiq, Ruhi Bey and Yasin alKhalidi, as well as many others.

  • Mr. Rami Al-Qawasmi – Jordan for the Young Entrepreneur Award

Rami Al-Qawasmi is the Co-founder and CEO of Mawdoo3.com Ltd, the biggest website in the world to provide digital content in Arabic. Mawdoo3 is a comprehensive website based in Jordan that uses the wiki system and provides premium quality Arabic content through articles. It is the fruit of a meeting in 2012 between Rami and his friend, Dr. Mohammad Jaber. Together they founded Mawdou3.com. They met while volunteering at an event, and the two shared their frustrations about the spread of inaccurate information on the internet forums that dominate the Arabic-language internet. Their shared passion for the issue led to a friendship and a business partnership.

Mawdoo3.com aims to expand the online Arabic content via its growing library of premium quality Arabic articles. In 2018, it consisted of over 140K articles covering different types of knowledge, and providing information in a simplified and clear language for the Arabic internet users worldwide. It has more than 42 million unique visitors every month. Mawdoo3.com has also started its journey in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) field.

Rami has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Sussex University in the United Kingdom. He has established many different businesses in his 29 years and developed over 10 startups. Mohammad and Rami are role models for all aspiring entrepreneurs. Their website won the first prize for the Queen Rania National Entrepreneurship Award for the category of universities and academics in 2011.

  • Mr. Husham Al Thahabi – Iraq for the Humanitarian and Civic Services Award

Husham Al Thahabi takes care of homeless orphans in Iraq.

During the 2006 Iraqi civil war, Husham was working in Baghdad with the organization “Protecting the Children of Kurdistan”. When the organization halted its activities, he decided to continue on his own, personally taking in dozens of homeless children under his care. Soon after, Al Thahabi established the Iraqi House of Creativity.

Husham Al-Thahabi’s story began with the children themselves, who inspired him. He started to remotely follow their movements and their daily life patterns in the streets: how they became addicted to sniffing seccotine and paint thinner, living in a state of devastation; until he decided to enter their world without thinking about the consequences of his action. More than 380 children have graduated from the institution after rehabilitation. Some of them are now married, have kids, and are settled with their family. Husham Al-Thahabi draws inspiration from the children themselves. He became invested in the difficult lives they faced on the street and decided to play his part in changing things. He succeeded, and was able to affect how society views these children: today, most sympathize with the kids, realizing they were victims, not criminals.

Al-Thahabi was awarded Arab Hope Makers Initiative award launched by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. Being one of the most positive influential figures in their society, he was awarded the title The Golden Star at the cultural exchange program 2018.

  • Ms. Essma Ben Hamida – Tunisia for the Outstanding Arab Woman Award

Essma Ben Hamida is the co-founder of the NGO Enda Inter-arabe and of the microfinance institution Enda Tamweel.

A social entrepreneur and development activist who started her career as a high school teacher, Essma was the first to introduce micro-finance to her home country Tunisia. After working as a journalist at the Tunisian Television company and as chief correspondent for the Tunisian Press Agency, she continued a successful 12-year career as an international journalist. For almost 9 years, Essma wrote extensively on the activities of the UN agencies based in Rome (FAO, IFAD, World Food Program and World Food Council) and visited development projects in several third world countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East/North Africa and Asia, interviewing poor and excluded people and reporting on their conditions and on the impact of the UN development programs.

In 1990, she returned home with her husband Michael Cracknell and launched the first best-practice microfinance institution. In 24 years, Enda has served a total of 800,000 low-income micro-entrepreneurs, two-thirds of them women living in disadvantaged urban and rural areas of Tunisia. Today, Enda’s “active clients” are approaching 400,000 with 93 current branches in all 24 governates of the country. Her NGO, self-sufficient thanks to the income from the company, can now empower women and spread the entrepreneurship mindset among youth and children, enabling them to create their own jobs in a country facing heavy unemployment.

In August 2018, Essma resigned as CEO of the micro-finance company, Enda Tamweel, to chair the NGO. She remains on the board of directors of Enda Tamweel and of the board of a Tunisian think tank “Ibn Khaldoun Development Forum”. She has received several national and international awards, including the distinction of “Outstanding Social Entrepreneur in the Middle East and North Africa of the year 2010” by the prestigious Schwab Foundation and the World Economic Forum.

  • Dr Haifa Jamal Al Lail – KSA for the Excellence in Education Award

Haifa Jamal Al Lail is the President of Effat University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She has been involved in education reform in Saudi Arabia since 1991, focusing on women’s issues and cultural dialogue. Before joining Effat University in 1998, Haifa Jamal Al Lail was the first Dean of Girls’ Campus in King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. As one of seven children raised in a single-mother home, Haifa drew a great deal of inspiration from her widowed mother who insisted that all of her children – both male and female – graduate from university.

Haifa fulfilled her mother’s wishes, and with her continued support and encouragement, became the first Saudi national to complete a Doctorate in Public Policy, at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Besides academia, Haifa has worked with diverse organizations, such as the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and the World Economic Forum. Internationally, she has worked tirelessly to combat stereotypes about Muslim women.

Haifa Jamal Al Lail is a distinguished leader, respected academic, renowned advocate of youth engagement, and author of several articles. In 2005, she won the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize. Other awards she has received include the Innovation Award, Saudi Sayidaty, Queen Effat’s Distinction Award, Leading Woman CEO, Distinguished Arab Woman Award, World Family Summit Award, and the Distinguished Arabian Woman Award.

  • INJAZ Al Arab – Jordan for the Excellence in Education Award

INJAZ Al-Arab, Junior Achievement MENA, is the largest non-profit organization in the region dedicated to youth education and training in the Arab world. It works to inspire and prepare a generation of Arab youth to utilize their natural talent, inspiration, passion, and determination, in order to become the business leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

INJAZ equips millions of Arab youth to drive the economies of the Arab world forward, through trainings in workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. The organization began its work in the region in 1999. Today, it is the regional operating center for JA worldwide, inspiring students to succeed in 13 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen. To date, INJAZ Al-Arab has impacted the lives of 3.5 million students with the collaboration of 3,000 schools, 418 universities, 300 private sector entities and 45,000 corporate volunteers.

INJAZ Al-Arab implements a wide array of youth empowerment programs delivered directly to classrooms, providing students with opportunities to learn from the volunteers’ real-world experience while also benefitting from associated networking and mentorship opportunities. At the local level, INJAZ’s relationship with ministries of education and other key government departments are essential in driving the success of their model—enabling INJAZ’s stakeholders and the private sector supporters to access public schools and universities across the region.

INJAZ won the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2009 and the Henry R. Kraviz Prize in Leadership in 2012. The Harvard Global Education Initiative recognized INJAZ Al-Arab as one of the leading entrepreneurial entities in the 21st century. It is also recognized by NGO Advisor as one of the Top 100 NGOs in the world.

  • Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh – Palestine for the Environmental Development and Sustainability Award

Mazin Qumsiyeh is a teacher and researcher at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities.

After serving on the faculty of the University of Tennessee, Duke University, and Yale University, Qumsiyeh and his wife returned to Palestine in 2008. They launched a number of institutions and projects, one of which was the clinical genetics laboratory to serve cancer patients and others. They founded and ran, as full-time volunteers, the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability, PIBS, at Bethlehem University.

Throughout his career, Qumsiyeh has published over 140 scientific papers on topics ranging from cultural heritage to biodiversity to cancer. His published books include “Bats of Egypt”, “Mammals of the Holy Land”, “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment”, and others. Besides publishing hundreds of articles and letters to the editor, and a book on activism, Qumsiyeh has given talks in 45 countries around the world.

He believes in empowering young people to work on social and environmental causes. The programs that he and his wife created have impacted thousands. Today, PIBS has become a “Mecca” for visitors to Palestine from around the world. In his lifetime, Qumsiyeh was harassed and arrested for non-violent actions, but he has also received a number of prestigious awards for these same actions which have inspired countless young people and activists around the world.

  • The Association for The Protection of The Environment – APE – Egypt for the Environmental Development and Sustainability Award

The Association for the Protection of the Environment (APE) is an Egyptian non-governmental organization that was established in 1984 to train and equip garbage collectors working in the sectors of health, education, environment and economic through applying the principles of development in participation with the target people, particularly women and children. The Association (APE) focuses on spreading the idea of safe solid waste management; in addition to training garbage collectors by enabling them to become producers of technology through the application of the skills of solid waste management in Egypt. APE’s overall objective is to improve the lives of garbage collectors as individuals and as a community.

APE combines its interest in serving the poor with an interest in protecting the environment, specifically with regards to household waste. APE, together with donors and sponsors, has developed projects in order to improve the quality of life in these poor and marginalized communities. Also, the Association has established several units of production through its own resources with the purpose of increasing the income of women.

This is accomplished by training and employing them in the safe and healthy methods of recycling solid wastes. The Association (APE) is managed by thirteen volunteers who are members of the Board; in addition, thirty female volunteers provide technical and organizational support and have a positive impact on the development and improvement of the various projects they are involved in. The services and the projects APE undertake in the fields of health, education and income producing programs reach 23,000 citizens annually. APE received several international and local awards for its work in several fields.

  • Hilal Lashuel – Yemen for the Scientific and Technological Achievement Award

Hilal Lashuel, PhD, is an associate professor of life sciences and the director of the Laboratory of Molecular and Chemical Biology of Neurodegeneration at the Brain Mind Institute at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne or EPFL).

He received his degree in chemistry from the City University of New York in 1994 and completed his doctoral studies at Texas A&M University and the Scripps Research Institute in 1999. Hilal, originally from Yemen, immigrated to the United States at the age of 15 and was able to get the highest degrees, although he says he never really liked studying during his youth.

In addition to his appointment at the EPFL, Hilal Lashuel was a visiting associate professor at the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University from 2012 to 2013 and served as the Executive Director of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) and a professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University from 2014 to 2016. Dr. Lashuel was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012.

Research efforts in the Lashuel’s laboratory focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration and developing novel strategies to diagnose and treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Lashuel is also one of the co-founders and secretary general of the society for advancing science and technology in the Arab World (SASTA), that was founded in 2010. SASTA’s mission is to contribute to the advancement of science, technology, higher education and research in the Arab region. In collaboration with the World Economic Forum, Dr. Lashuel and the leadership of SASTA are working with other Arab scientists to engage with business leaders and policy makers from the region and formulate specific recommendations focused on promoting Education, Science and Technology as catalysts for transformation and development in the region.

  • Mentor Foundation – Sweden for the International Contribution to Arab Society Award

Founded in Switzerland in 1994 by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, Mentor Foundation envisions a world where children and youth are empowered to lead healthy lives and make sound decisions in order to protect them from risky behaviors: drug use and abuse, smoking, bullying, violence, and others. The foundation’s board of trustees includes a number of royal figures and a wide range of high- profile personalities. It is chaired by Mrs. Yvonne Thunell, winner of the Swedish King Medal award for her outstanding achievements.

Mentor Foundation also includes a number of top notch international as well as Arab personalities who are active in the humanitarian and development fields, With branches in Denmark, USA, UK, Colombia, Sweden, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, as well as the Arab world where it is presided by HRH Prince Turki Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, its programs have benefited more than 6 million people in the past 25 years, including one million beneficiaries in 12 Arab countries.

“Unplugged”, a scholastic program adopted by the ministries of education in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Oman; is a program of the foundation that focuses on developing the life skills of elementary school students. Moreover, Mentor partnered with UNICEF in Lebanon to apply the “Youth Peer Mentoring Program” in hopes of ensuring a better professional future for the youth.

  • George Bitar – Lebanon for the Corporate Leadership Award

George Bitar is one of the founders of Kuluna Irada, a non-profit organization that seeks political reforms in Lebanon and which was the only civil society organization to be invited at the CÈDRE Conference and its follow-up monitoring committee. He is also cofounder and president of the organization for Social and Economic Action for Lebanon. The organization gives grants to underserved Lebanese communities and has positively impacted the lives of over 35,000 Lebanese men and women of all religions and sects. He is also a founding board member of LIFE, the Lebanese International Finance Executives: a network of over 1000 Lebanese executives that helps promote Lebanon. LIFE has so far given over 225 scholarships to Lebanese MBA students in Lebanon and abroad.

George grew up in Lebanon and lived abroad for 36 years. After receiving his baccalaureate at Marist College in Champville, his plan was to pursue a military career in the Lebanese army. However, both his father and uncle, a retired general, talked him out of it. Instead he headed in 1983 to the United States to pursue his university studies.

He worked at Thomson McKinnon, initially as a runner on the commodities exchange, in the gold and crude oil pits and later on as a foreign exchange trader. He enrolled at Columbia Business School in 1989 and was hired by Merrill Lynch in the restructuring group. Mr. Bitar spent the next four years advising troubled companies on how to restructure their financial debt or raise acquisition debt financing.

In 2013, Mr. Bitar chose to trade the large corporate environment for a more entrepreneurial setting by partnering with Habib Kairouz and raising a fund to invest in mid-size technology companies. The path to his philanthropic activity started from a young age when he was constantly reminded of the importance of civic and social responsibilities. His paternal family’s social and political activities and his mother’s focus on charity formed what would become an important part of George’s life, which is giving back to his community and country.

  • Dr Claude Serhal – Lebanon for the Special Distinction Award

Claude Doumet-Serhal is a Lebanese archaeologist born in Beirut. During the Lebanese civil war, she travelled to Paris and enrolled in both la Sorbonne Paris 1, where she obtained her PhD, and in the Ecole du Louvre, where she obtained her diploma. Her work on the field during that time was mainly focused on Syria, in Ras Shamra-Ugarit and Ras Ibn Hani.

She subsequently moved to London and in 1993, established the non-profit organization: the Lebanese British Friends of the National Museum. The organization aimed to promote the power of cultural heritage in order to project a positive image of Lebanon, to raise funds and to provide technical support for the restoration and refurbishment of Beirut’s National Museum after years of civil war.

A joint excavation project directed by Claude Doumet-Serhal was launched in 1998 in Sidon between the British Museum and the Department of Antiquities of Lebanon. 21 years of on- going excavations at this site have yielded groundbreaking results: The Sidon excavation is considered to be one of the most important excavations on the Levantine coast revealing a continuity of uninterrupted occupation from the end of the third Millennium BC to the Crusaders period and providing, through Canaanite DNA analysis at the Sanger Institute in Cambridge, a definitive answer to the questions related to Lebanese ancestry.

Claude Doumet-Serhal was awarded a Member of the British Empire award (MBE). She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London, a special Assistant at the British Museum, an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London and a Member of the Laboratoire UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée, CNRS Paris, as well as a Trustee of the Honor Frost Charitable Trust in London. She also received in 2015 a distinction from the Lebanese CNRS for scientific research. She has and continues to exhibit and publish prolifically the results of her work.

  • Mr Stephane Attali – France for the Special Distinction Award

Stéphane Attali was the Director General of the École Supérieure des Affaires (ESA) in Beirut. With degrees from the Paris Dauphine University and from the Paris Institute of Political Studies, he started his professional career as advisor for a consultancy cabinet in Paris. In 1999, he joined the international management of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris. From 2002 to 2007, he was dispatched for the first time to Beirut to join the ESA, a Great School of Management that was founded by the Lebanese and French governments, under the management of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris-Ile-de-France.

He held the position of responsible of pedagogic development, and established the School’s Business Cluster. He then joined ESCP Europe, the Great School of Management of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as assistant to the Director General before going back to Beirut in January 2009 as ESA’s Director General. Mr. Attali was also the president of the Meref – CCI France Liban, which was born in April 2008 from a collaboration between French and Lebanese business owners and with the support of the Economic Mission of the French Embassy in Lebanon. During an entire decade, he contributed to making the Ecole Supérieure des Affaires the flagship of French higher education in Lebanon and the Middle East, thus playing a crucial part in France’s outreach in Lebanon and vice versa. He also carried out projects in educational, sanitary, and social fields that were beneficial to many.

In October 2018, Stéphane Attali was made Knight of the French National Order of Merit by the French Ambassador in Lebanon Bruno Foucher, and received the Gold Medal of the Order of Lebanese Health Merit from the Lebanese President Michel Aoun. He left us in July of 2019, reminding us with each of his accomplishments that nothing can resist the passion we poor in our lives and endeavors