Sarah, 27, aims to be Iraq’s jewel with a crown

Sarah Idan, 27, a singer, songwriter and musician from Baghdad, will represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant in the US this month. (Via social media)
Updated 08 November 2017
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Sarah, 27, aims to be Iraq’s jewel with a crown

BAGHDAD: Sarah Idan carries the hopes and dreams of Iraq on her shoulders — and very pretty shoulders they are too.
Sarah, 27, a singer, songwriter and musician from Baghdad, will represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant in the US this month.
“It’s an incredible honor,” she said on social media. “Very grateful and excited.”
Sarah qualified for the contest last week when she was crowned Miss Universe Iraq 2017 at a ceremony in Baghdad — but, Iraq being Iraq, the process was not without incident. Judges found out that the initial winner, Vian Sulaimani, had been married and divorced, which is against the rules.
It is more than 40 years since Iraq had a contestant at the pageant. Wijdan Sulyman took part in Puerto Rico in 1972.
Sarah was born and raised in Baghdad. After the invasion in 2003, she worked with the American-led coalition forces in the city, which gave her the opportunity to travel to the US. Last year she won the Miss Iraq USA title in Michigan.
Many Iraqis welcomed her participation in the pageant. “We need to breathe some air away from the wars and killings,” Mona Jaleel, a government employee, told Arab News. “We are not familiar with these contests and I do not think that our nominee will reach the final stages, but I am so excited to see our girl there.”
Hadiya Enad, a teacher, said: “It’s good to revive such events in Iraq. I am proud to finally see Iraqis participating in this contest. We have such beautiful girls, so they have to participate in these events. I love watching them,” Enad said.
Others, however, were less impressed. “The contest does not mean anything,” Sharief Soud said.
And Saman Mohammed, 35, a cameraman, told Arab News: “I personally do not like such events and I would not cover it. I have spent all my life living under war and fighting, who cares about these events?”
The pageant takes place in Las Vegas on Nov. 26.


'Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation' pledges $27 million for refugee education

Updated 20 June 2018
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'Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation' pledges $27 million for refugee education

DUBAI: On World Refugee Day, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Emirati businessman and philanthropist, announced the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, a new 100M AED ($27 million) initiative to benefit 5,000 children and youth over 3 years.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said: “I established this fund because I believe that philanthropists have a role in helping to address one of the most acute challenges of our region: lack of education opportunities for young people who need it the most.”
The Fund will award grants to support secondary, vocational and tertiary education programs for refugee youth in Jordan and Lebanon. It will also support children of families who due to wars and disasters in their home countries, temporarily reside in the UAE but are unable to afford school fees. The first round of grants will be announced prior to the start of the new school year.

Applauding this initiative, Filippo Grande, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said: “We welcome the generous commitment by Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair. The Fund highlights the importance of the Arab world’s business community in creating a positive impact through supporting the region’s displaced communities.”

Commenting on the initiative, Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education said: “There can be no better investment in the future of the Arab region than to support the education of the most vulnerable — refugee children and youth.”

The AbdulAziz Refugee Education Fund will be administered by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education. Founded in 2015 and based in Dubai, it is the largest privately funded foundation in the Arab world focused exclusively on education. It aims to improve access to quality education for high-achieving, underserved Emirati and Arab youth. Abdulla Al Ghurair pledged one third of his wealth to the Foundation and set out a target of reaching 15,000 youth over 10 years valued at over $1 billion.