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Celebrating success and legacy: AUS Alumni Reunion Dinner showcases the power of community
Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of American University of Sharjah, opened the Alumni Reunion Dinner by reflecting on how the university community had inspired her throughout her first year at the helm.
"I see alumni, students, faculty, partners and friends coming together, united in diversity and a shared commitment to build a better future for others, especially the underprivileged," she told the alumni gathered at the on-campus event.
Sheikha Bodour then laid out her vision for the university, saying: "We have a clear and ambitious roadmap for the future, and it’s to stand at the pinnacle of higher education in the world. We are channeling efforts into pioneering research and innovations that extend the reach of our reputation and influence. The impact of AUS is already clear, from the global recognition of our faculty to ground-breaking advancements in cancer research and more. We are on a path that will see AUS become ever more impactful and relevant internationally over the next 25 years."
Organized by the Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs (OAAA), the AUS Alumni Reunion Dinner saw 1,500 alumni in attendance. The special occasion celebrated the university’s collective accomplishments, strengthening connections that define its cohesive community. With the theme, “Together in Advancement, Stronger in Solidarity," OAAA introduced the AUS Alumni Solidarity Fund--part of the newly established AUS Alumni Annual Fund--to support and empower bright students facing social changes or emergencies within their communities, helping them receive quality education at AUS. The proceeds from the fund this year will go towards supporting outstanding students from Palestine with a special focus on those facing financial difficulties in Gaza.
The event also featured a light show that represented the theme; an opening performance by Fadi Rifaai, singer, actor, writer and College of Engineering alumnus; an inspirational speech by Moataz Mashal, a motivational speaker, author, strategist, entrepreneur and alumnus of the School of Business Administration (SBA); and a captivating performance by Zeina Barhoum, a Grand Prix Award-winning opera soprano vocalist and alumna of the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD).
The highlight of the event was two panel discussions featuring distinguished AUS alumni who reflected on their career trajectories and emphasized the power of the AUS alumni community. Participants shared insights drawn from their varied work experiences, delivering a firsthand narrative of the profound influence AUS had on steering them toward success.
Titled “The Power of AUS Alumni,” the first panel was moderated by His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation and Member of the AUS Board of Trustees. It featured Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Khalid Al Qasimi, Former Minister in the Government of the United Arab Emirates and SBA alumna; Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates and CEN alumna; and Her Excellency Hessa bint Essa BuHumaid, Former Minister of State, Government of the United Arab Emirates, Director General of Community Development Authority, Government of Dubai and SBA alumna.
The second panel, “Dreams without Boundaries,” was moderated by AUS Alumni Association President Ali Lootah and comprised Sahar Parham Al Awadhi, the first female Emirati pastry chef and College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) alumna; Sarah AlAidy, culinary entrepreneur and CEN alumna; Muhammad Binghatti, CEO of Binghatti Holding and CAAD alumnus; and Ahmad Safar Al Zarooni, entrepreneur, owner of Break by Mara Café and lounge SBA alumnus.
"I am inspired by the extraordinary talent, passion and success displayed by our AUS alumni community. Thanks to all contributors to the AUS Alumni Advancement and Solidarity Fund; your commitment to our alma mater is commendable. Our collective strength lies in the unity of the AUS alumni community and your continued support paves the way for the growth and prosperity of our university. Thank you for being the driving force behind AUS's legacy of excellence and success," said Dr. Tod Laursen, Chancellor of AUS.
Sheikha Bodour also recognized Emirati AUS Pioneers Dr. Moza AlShehi and Mr. Salem Al Qaseer for their dedication, innovation and leadership that shaped the university. She also recognized Alumni Wall of Fame inductees who exemplified commitment and dedicated service to their community and alma mater. These are alumnus Ahmed Hosny (CAAD, 2009), alumnus Saud Hassan Al Nowais (CAS, 2006), alumnus Dr. Omar Abdelrahman (CEN, 2011), alumna Lina Osman (SBA, 2006) and a posthumous award in honoring memory of alumna Hanan Al-Sahlawi (SBA, 2001, 2006). Sheikha Bodour also recognized the event’s sponsors: Alef Group, Arada, Beeah, Crescent Petroleum, Sharjah National Oil Corporation, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) and Invest in Sharjah.
Prior to the AUS Alumni Dinner, Sheikha Bodour inaugurated the “Alumni Return” exhibition, featuring the work of CAAD and CAS alumni, in the Main Building Rotunda. The exhibition included work by alumni Ahmed Al Areef Al Dhaheri, Khalid Mezaina, Mays AlBaik, Afra Hilal Bin Dhaher, Sawsan Waiss Al Bahar, Juma AlHaj, and Reem Al Ghaith. The exhibition also showcases the artwork of the late Tarek Al-Ghoussein, a former professor of CAAD. His work, part of the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation, aligns with the event's solidarity theme, considering his Palestinian origin.