Shah Rukh Khan, Cate Blanchett and Elton John pick up awards at Davos forum

Cate Blanchett, Shah Rukh Khan and Elton John pictured at the Crystal Awards ceremony of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Shah Rukh Khan, Cate Blanchett and Elton John pick up awards at Davos forum

DAVOS: Three international celebrities on Monday picked up awards in Davos as the annual World Economic Forum meeting got underway.

The 24th Annual Crystal Awards celebrates the achievements of outstanding artists who have shown a commitment to improving the state of the world.

Actor Cate Blanchett was honored for her leadership in raising awareness of the refugee crisis. She told the audience that nowhere is the fractured world more humanly embodied than in the refugee.

Blanchett was appointed a UNHCR Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2016, in recognition of her commitment to refugees, and has lent her voice and influence to raising awareness, advocating and fundraising for the UNHCR.

Indian film actor Shah Rukh Khan was awarded for his leadership in championing children’s and women’s rights in India. The star is the founder of the non‐profit Meer Foundation, which provides support to female victims of acid attacks and major burn injuries through medical treatment, legal aid, vocational training, rehabilitation and livelihood support.

The third awardee was musician Elton John, for his leadership in the fight against HIV and AIDS. He urged participants to use their sense of human connection to change the world. In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), which has raised more than $400 million to date.

The World Economic Forum’s 48th Annual Meeting in Davos is being held under the theme of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.”


Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist Al-Gailani

Updated 21 January 2019
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Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist Al-Gailani

  • Al-Gailani was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage
  • After the US-led invasion, Al-Gailani continued to travel to Iraq, determined to rescue its heritage even as the country convulsed with war

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Monday mourned the loss of Lamia Al-Gailani, a beloved archaeologist who helped rebuild the Baghdad museum after it was looted following the 2003 US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Al-Gailani, who died in Amman, Jordan, on Friday at the age of 80, was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage.
Relatives, colleagues, and cultural officials on Monday gathered at Baghdad’s National Museum, the country’s leading museum, to pay their respects before moving her remains to the Qadiriyyah mosque for prayers and later interment.
A devotee of her country’s heritage, Al-Gailani lent her expertise to restore relics stolen from the museum for its reopening in 2015. She also championed a new antiquities museum for the city of Basra, which opened in 2016.
“She was very keen to communicate on the popular level and make archaeology accessible to ordinary people,” said her daughter, Noorah Al-Gailani, who curates the Islamic civilizations collection at the Glasgow Museum in Scotland.
“It is a big loss, the passing of Dr. Lamia Al-Gailaini, who played a great role in the field of archaeology, even before 2003,” said the deputy minister of culture, Qais Hussein Rashid.
The restored collection at the National Museum included hundreds of cylinder seals, the subject of Al-Gailani’s 1977 dissertation at the University of London. These were engraved surfaces used to print cuneiform impressions and pictographic lore onto documents and surfaces in ancient Mesopotamia, now present-day Iraq.
Still, thousands of artefacts remain missing from the museum’s collection, and Al-Gailani bore the grief of watching her country’s rich heritage suffer unfathomable levels of looting and destruction in the years after Saddam’s ouster.
“I wish it was a nightmare and I could wake up,” she told the BBC in 2015, when Daesh militants bulldozed relics at the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud near present-day Mosul.
Born in Baghdad in 1938, Al-Gailani studied at the University of Cambridge in Britain before finding work as a curator at the National Museum in 1960. It was her first job in archaeology, her daughter said.
She returned to Britain in 1970 to pursue advanced studies, and she made her home there. Still, she kept returning to her native country, connecting foreign academics with an Iraqi archaeological community that was struggling under the isolation of Saddam Hussein’s autocratic rule and the UN sanctions against him.
In 1999, she published “The First Arabs,” in Arabic, with the Iraqi archaeologist Salim Al-Alusi, on the earliest traces of Arab culture in Mesopotamia, in the 6th through 9th centuries.
She would bring copies of the book with her to Baghdad and sell them through a vendor on Mutanabbi Street, the literary heart of the capital, according to her daughter.
After the US-led invasion, Al-Gailani continued to travel to Iraq, determined to rescue its heritage even as the country convulsed with war.
At the time of her death, she was working with the Basra Museum to curate a new exhibit set to open in March, said Qahtan Al-Abeed, the museum director.
“She hand-picked the cylinder seals to display at the museum,” said Al-Abeed.