BY PRISCILLA HOPPER
Multi-Platinum singer songwriter Najwa Karam proved to be the reigning queen of middle eastern music as she took the stage at The First Annual Education Hero Award Gala benefiting AMIDEAST hosted at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA on October 14, 2017. The evening wrapped up three consecutive nights of fundraising events which included a VIP reception honoring the AMIDEAST/Lebanon Advisory Board hosted by Cheryl and Harry Nadjarian, and an in-store VIP reception hosted by Giorgio Armani, Beverly Hills.
What everyone will remember best, though, is the featured appearance by Guy Manoukian whose intense performance was the cultural high point of the night.
“Guy did such a good job of evoking the requisite nostalgia of tradition and infusing it with his modern Lebanese music. There was so much energy with him and his band that gala attendees rushed the stage and danced to their hearts content,” the gala chair, Harry Nadjarian, said. “It’s hard to carry off a gala like this one. We had to give a good snapshot of the AMIDEAST mission, and enough of a sense of its past to encourage attendance.”
Nadjarian built a committee of 28 business and civic leaders to co-chair the evening who in full, created enough buzz that the events were sold out. The three events raised an aggregate of $1million. The net proceeds will benefit the youth in Lebanon wishing to pursue and education in the United States.
The evening was further enriched with a program which included presentations by Lebanese Consul General Johnny Ibrahim, Ambassador Theodore Kattouff, CEO of AMIDEAST, and Anis Nassar, ALAB Chairman who shared stories of the success of AMIDEAST and called upon the attendees to be generous in their support. Answering that call with an extraordinary surprise donation of $200,000 was Ahmed Al Khatib who attributes much of his personal success to AMIDEAST’s programs he participated in during his youth.
Noor Semaan accepted the Education Hero Award on behalf of her father, the late Lebanese philanthropist and entrepreneur Maroun Semaan, whose legacy was described by Anis Nassar as a man “determined to change as many lives as possible, much as his own life was changed by the scholarship he received to study at the American University of Beirut.”
The three nights will be remembered as a kind of symbolic passing of the torch back to Lebanon where next year’s gala will take place on September 8, 2018.
“These galas and fundraising efforts are glamorous, but more so they are a meaningful way to acknowledge the incredible work of AMIDEAST and to broaden the awareness with a strong donor base,” Nadjarian said.
The search is already in effect for next year’s Education Hero Award nominees.
In addition to Giorgio Armani, sponsors of the events included Industrial Motor Power Corporation, Agiline, The A and S Bseisu Foundation, Allied Wallet, Midis Group, Cristana Home, Pepsico, Consolidated Contractors Company, Middle East Airlines, Golden State Bank, The Beverly Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, Sheera Sweets, Dorian J. Khouri Foundation, Kamal Shouhayib, George Ignatius Foundation, Ray R. Irani Foundation, and Stephen Philibosian Foundation plus many individuals and the donors of 85 items — ranging from art, fashion, and jewelry to travel opportunities, sports tickets and collectibles — offered in an online silent auction.