Some 800 guests at the Doha 21st Century Leaders Awards gala dinner took part in an auction which raised over $1.26mn yesterday evening, with the proceeds set to be donated to various charitable programmes chosen by the celebrities involved.
The highest price paid for a lot was $500,000 for Sacha Jafri’s painting Beckham – A Celebration. Jafri sold another two paintings for $225,000 and $275,000.
The evening began with guests walking down the red carpet into a room featuring an art exhibition of works by a number of international and locally-based artists.
Award winner Josh Hartnett was the last to enter the ballroom, when he joined Sir Ben Kingsley and other guests and officials.
Organiser, Charlotte di Vita MBE welcomed the guests before handing out the awards to the recognised celebrities.
First to be recognised was Sir Ben Kingsley who received the “outstanding humanitarian” award. Sir Kingsley said the award had left him feeling “truly humbled”.
“I cannot really claim to be a humanitarian,” he said, “but some of my best friends are.”
He noted the work of Richard Attenborough and Steven Spielberg, and claimed that they were the driving force behind any humanitarian efforts he had pursued.
“I acknowledge my friends who led me towards this award, and my beloved wife who watches me every step of the way and is my guardian angel,” he added.
The next award, for “outstanding leadership”, was bestowed upon Venus and Serena Williams who, because of playing commitments in Doha, were unable to attend the gala dinner. However, they both sent video messages, expressing their gratitude, with Venus saying she would love to be able to attend the next dinner.
Next to be recognised was Josh Hartnett who received the “outstanding environmentalist” award for his work with “Global Cool” and his efforts to educate people about climate change.
“Outstanding Humanitarians” Danny Boyle and Christian Colson, who recently committed £500,000 to international children’s development organisation, Plan, were the next award winners.
Unfortunately, the two film-makers were recently called to India because of complications with one of the children they are supporting and had to cancel their trip to Doha, but they also sent a video message of thanks.
Opera singer Monica Yunus was awarded an “outstanding humanitarian” award for the work of her foundation, Sing For Hope. Whilst receiving her award, the soprano said: “I needed a way to give something back through what I know best, which is my art, and I found that other artists felt the same way.”
She said: “Art is not a luxury, it is necessary to human existence.”
Awards were also presented to “unsung heroes” from Qatar and the region, recognising the efforts of individuals who have made significant contributions in various humanitarian fields.
Qataris Eman Obaidly and her son Ghanem, and Sara Mohamed al-Shamlan were recognised for their efforts in raising awareness of children living with disabilities and in poverty respectively. Blind Palestinian teacher Helena Shehadeh was rewarded for her work.
And then the auction took place, offering a significant contribution towards the charitable efforts of the celebrities involved with the 21st Century Leaders.
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