Rolls-Royce boosts charity work in Middle East

Rebuilding lives. British MP Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne speaking at the Rolls-Royce charity event in London. (

2017/04/09 Issue: 101 Page: 21

The Arab Weekly
Dunia El-Zobaidi

London - AMAR, a British charity de­livering emergency sup­port and sustainable pro­grammes to people in the Middle East, and luxury car manufacturer Rolls-Royce have joined forces to raise funds. Marking the charity’s 25th anniversary, Rolls- Royce opened its Berkeley Square showroom to hundreds of potential donors.

The event was an occasion for AMAR to showcase its plans and projects, including the construction of a 36-bed maternity hospital in southern Iraq and a school in Basra.

“The maternity hospital is fi­nanced by a grant given by the emir of Kuwait. He wanted something to be built in the south of Iraq so we asked around to see what is needed most which turned out to be health and education,” AMAR spokesman Robert Cole said.

“The hospital is just outside Bas­ra. We are hoping it is operational by autumn 2018. It will be state-of-the-art and have everything that is needed in a maternity hospital. We also had a big donation for a CAT scanner, one of the very few in the region,” Cole said.

Pointing to the high death rate among newborns in Iraq, Cole add­ed: “We want to reverse that trend by providing the best hospitals and doctors. Some 15,000 Iraqis work for us in Iraq and many of them are volunteers.”

Education is another sector that needs support in Iraq, hence the plan to build a school in Basra, Cole said.

“The school will be built to the north of the city centre,” he said. “We aim to provide a fantastic edu­cation with everything from sports and languages to information tech­nology. There will be a small fee but it will be much cheaper than other schools.”

At least 25% of the students will be orphans from the local community.

“We aim to give the orphans an opportunity to meet families and other children and help them access university and eventually get good jobs to hopefully rebuild Iraq,” Cole added.

British MP Baroness Emma Ni­cholson, a founder of AMAR, com­mended the work of AMAR’s field staff. “Our incredible teams in the Middle East have been rebuilding the lives of the most disadvantaged in the region for the past 25 years,” she said.

“In recent times the pressure on our wholly local staff has increased hugely because ISIS’s murderous invasion of northern Iraq has left millions displaced and in desperate need of help,” Nicholson said, refer­ring to the Islamic State.

Scores of Iraqis have been forced to live as refugees in their own country, in grim camps, abandoned buildings or with relatives for years. AMAR supports them by build­ing health centres, schools and training facilities.

“We have unique programmes such as psycho-social support for Yazidi women and girls kidnapped and horribly abused by ISIS and religious tolerance teaching in the south,” Nicholson said.

“All AMAR’s work is first class, ex­cellence recognised by organisations such as the World Health Organisa­tion, UNESCO and the World Bank,” she said. “This is why Rolls-Royce’s beautiful showroom is the perfect place to thank our superb donors, both corporate and individual, for their massive help over the years.”

Claus Andersen, brand director of Rolls-Royce, said the name was syn­onymous with British culture and the number one choice for the Brit­ish entrepreneur. “We are delighted, therefore, to offer a great British charity like AMAR the opportunity to use our flagship showroom in the heart of Mayfair to celebrate its 25th birthday with donors and support­ers,” he said.

Rolls-Royce and AMAR will also collaborate with Italian artist Ot­tavio Fabbri in an exhibition titled Starlight. Money generated from the sale of paintings will be donated to the charity.

Fabbri is a painter, sculptor, direc­tor and conceptual artist who grew up among artists such as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, who were friends of his parents. His new col­lection, Sky, mirrors Rolls-Royce’s Starlight Headliner feature. The company’s craftsmen weaved 800- 1,600 fibre-optic strands through the leather-lined ceiling to create galaxy patterns. Each constellation is unique to the owner.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin said before the landing-on-the-moon mission in 1969: “I have al­ready seen Fabbri’s paintings in space. Ottavio Fabbri is a man and artist of the Italian Renaissance. The new renaissance, the cosmic one.”

His work is so evocative that the European Space Agency has given him lifetime sponsorship.

The Starlight exhibition is to run April 14th-21st at the Berkeley Square Rolls-Royce showroom.

Dunia El-Zobaidi is an Arab Weekly correspondent in London.

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