The night was a celebration of the work of the Foundation, its partners and scholars. Over 220 guests attended the dinner including ambassadors and other dignitaries, friends and representatives from partner organisations such as Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, Turquoise Mountain, the British Lebanese Association and UK universities. The evening was also attended by over 80 of our current scholars including 19 Saïd Foundation scholars, four Rhodes scholars and 55 scholars studying for MBAs and DPhils at the Saïd Business School in Oxford. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Scholarships Programme, over 30 former Foundation scholars joined the evening.
The evening began with a speech from current MBA scholar Jurie Jean van de Vyver from South Africa. Speaking on behalf of all of this year’s scholars, Jurie Jean spoke about the life changing impact his scholarship has had and the incredible commitment the Foundation continues to have to improving the lives of young people through education. Dr Thalia Kennedy, Creative Director at Turquoise Mountain, then spoke to guests about their work in Jordan and the importance of preserving and celebrating Syrian heritage and history.
Later in the evening Jonathan Aitken, Trustee and member of the Student Committee, presented this year’s Alumni Achievement Prize to Dr Salma Nims from Jordan. Salma spoke to guests about the impact the SF scholarship has had on her life so far and about the importance of her work in advocating for gender equality for women in Jordan and the wider region.
The evening was brought to a close with a moving musical performance by Syrian violist Rami Basisah. Rami, now 23 years old, left Homs in July 2015 and travelled the perilous and dangerous 2,500-mile journey to Germany. After settling in Germany Rami’s musical talent was spotted by DECCA Records and in 2017 he released his first album “My Journey”. Rami is currently studying at the Music School in Stuttgart.