On Thursday, December 8, the Global Gift Gala returned to Dubai for its fifth consecutive year hosting an exceptionally successful event in the Palazzo Versace in aid of Dubai Cares, Harmony House and victims of hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Global Gift Foundation founder, Maria Bravo, gave a heartfelt speech before the charity auction got underway, and guests were treated to performances of ‘Despacito’ from international star Luis Fonsi, a rousing rendition from Asian soprano Seia Lee, and a special performance from the Emirates Community Symphonic Orchestra. Hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars was raised from the charity auction, with an artwork by famed British artist Sacha Jafri taking the highest bid, while two-star Michelin chef Mansour Memarian served his famous cuisine to the attendees.
2017 is the ‘Year of Giving’ in the UAE, and in keeping with the motif, 100% of funds raised during the Gala will go towards supporting programs in five different continents making it a truly global gala in partnership with Dubai Cares. Together with Global Gift Foundation, both entities will see projects in India (Harmony House), Europe, America and Asia benefitted, and a donation being made on behalf of Global Gift Foundation to Puerto Rico which was recently left devastated by Hurricane Maria, with 100% of proceeds going to charity.
The Global Gift Gala presented and sponsored by CINDY CHAO The Art Jewel, Huda Beauty, and Cocobay Vietnam, hosted international stars such as Adrien Brody, Vanessa Williams, Luis Fonsi, and Alesha Dixon at the annual black-tie charity evening, with Tom Urquhart emceeing the event. The event was attended by stars, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists who walked the red carpet.
Special awards were handed out to Vanessa Williams, Lucy Bruce, and Charlotte Knight for their philanthropic pursuits. British singer, model & TV presenter and Honorary Chair Alesha Dixon presented Vanessa Williams with The Global Gift Excellence Award for her continuous contribution to philanthropic causes, while Charlotte Knight was honored with the Global Gift Philanthropreneur Award, and Lucy Bruce was recognized for her work with Harmony House as the Global Gift Philanthropist Award. Dixon herself is no stranger to Global Gift Galas having attended and participated in multiple events in London, Sardinia, Ibiza, and Marbella, helping the gala to raise hundreds-of-thousands of dollars for the beneficiary foundations.
The online auction was presented on a live screen throughout the evening with items such as Muhammed Ali’s boxing glove fetching over USD $15,000. But the live auction was where the real action lay. The famed auction also saw an exciting array of items put under the gavel as the auctioneer kept the crowd entertained as items such as an original Salvador Dalí engraving in gold commandeered a price of $20,000 and a two-night stay at the Royal Mansoor Marrakesh including what has been voted the ‘best spa in the world,’ by Conde Nast Traveller sold for $16,000. But the real winners on the night were prolific British artist Sacha Jafri and Oscar-winning Hollywood actor and painter Adrien Brody who kindly donated artworks to the cause, fetching $275,000 and $42,000 respectively.
Academy award-winning actor, producer, director and composer Adrien Brody, described as a modern-day Renaissance man, added a handprint and signature to Sacha Jafri’s acclaimed artwork, alongside David Beckham’s footprint, before auctioning an artwork of his own. Brody is an avid supporter of charitable causes such as Artists for Peace and Justice and Save the Children. He is also a UNICEF ambassador, as well as helping dozens of other causes in the US and abroad, and notably sold one of his artworks, alongside works from artists like Olafur Eliasson and Pablo Picasso, for $275,000 in aid of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
Hollywood star Vanessa Williams during her acceptance speech for the Global Gift Excellence Award for her continuous contribution to philanthropic causes, took the time to wish her mother a very happy birthday. Williams is the recipient of many awards and nominations including Grammy nominations for hits such as "The Right Stuff", "Save the Best for Last", and "Colors of the Wind". In addition, she has earned multiple Emmy nominations, a Tony Award nomination, seven NAACP Image Awards, and four Satellite Awards. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 19, 2007.
From third left) Coco, Maria Bravo, Adrien Brody, Vanessa Williams, Alesha Dixon and Azuka Ononye attend the Global Gift Gala
Louis Fonsi had the crowd on their feet and around the stage, as he sang ‘Despacito.’ The Emirates Community Symphonic Orchestra played a pitch-perfect concerto, while the Dubai College Choir united the world with a rousing tune back-dropped on the big screen by a video of the fantastic work that charities carry out.
Maria Bravo had the crowd in hysterics and tears throughout her speech, during which she told guests one of the true reasons she founded the Global Gift Gala and subsequently the Global Gift Foundation. As Maria herself couldn’t have children, she decided to help children in need. Along with good friend Eve Longoria, who unfortunately couldn’t attend the event due to a Global Gift Foundation event in Miami she was hosting with renowned singer Ricky Martin, the duo has been working tirelessly for years in aid of different charities. Maria asked Eve to “Bring your voice that you have in public, and shine that light for Global Gift.” Eva Longoria obliged and has been a spokesperson for the foundation since its inception.
One of Global Gift’s projects entitled ‘Casa Global Gift’ helps over 300 children in Spain through its initiative, and Maria proudly finished her speech with the words, “they call me mom,” to uproarious applause. She was later commended for her philanthropic approach by Nick Ede with the words “It’s not just about writing a cheque, it’s about holding a hand,” and by Lucy Bruce of Harmony House by saying, “She’s a remarkable woman and fearless in her pursuit to do good in the world.”
This is the fourteenth Global Gift Gala event across nine countries, and the fifth consecutive annual event in Dubai. Speaking about the work Global Gift carries out in Dubai Maria Bravo said; “Dubai is our most important gala each year. Year after year it has received more and more traction, and this is thanks to having partners like Dubai Cares and DIFF onboard. Our gala provides a platform for diversification bringing people from every walk of life together for a common cause – help others. We have big performers lined up, loved actors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, great auction items: all the necessary elements to ensure a fantastic event”
Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, and the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) partnered the event for the seventh year running. Commenting on this partnership, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares said: “We are grateful and proud of our long-standing partnership with the Dubai International Film Festival … The funds raised from the gala are vital in ensuring marginalized children and their families get the support they need. By supporting organizations like Dubai Cares, DIFF is helping us create positive and lasting change in the world.”
DIFF Chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: “The Dubai International Film Festival has become a name well known for great cinema, and even greater charitable work that resonates across the globe. We are proud to say that in association with Dubai Cares, and the Global Gift Foundation, we can change the lives of those less fortunate and really make a difference to those in need of our help. Through the collective love of film, DIFF brings people together to support great causes, and the funds raised this year will go some way toward aiding families and communities in five different continents, making the Gift Gala a truly Global event.”
Dubai Cares works towards providing children in developing countries with access to quality education through the design and funding of programs that are integrated, impactful, sustainable and scalable. Over the past 10 years, Dubai Cares has successfully launched education programs reaching over 16 million beneficiaries in 45 developing countries.
The Global Gift Gala is a platform part of the Global Gift Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2013 by Maria Bravo with a focus on creating a positive impact on the lives of women, children, and families. The Foundation has donated millions of dollars to projects including ‘Fight for Life’ radiotherapy treatments for children at UCLH hospital, UNICEF in France to help with vaccinations of polio in Chad, the Mensajeros de la Paz feeding families program, funding for anti-bullying programs for the Diana Princess of Wales Charity, and the Diana Award, amongst others.
Last year, the Global Gift Gala funds raised were used to change the lives of hundreds of women, children and families over a broad range of projects helping causes such as cancer treatment for children, the development of a multifunctional centre for children with rare and chronic diseases, life-changing operations for disabled children in European Countries, micro-loans for women in need of help and many more.
In addition, the event will support Harmony House an Indian registered, non-profit organization in Gurgaon, just outside of Delhi, India. They have transformed two villas into full-time community centers for women and children, where they offer education, food, medication, hygiene facilities and social services to women and children living in the nearby slums. The event will also see a donation being made to the people of Puerto Rico who are in need of emergency support after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.