The UAE Chapter of Notre Dame University-Louaize’s (NDU) Alumni Association (NDUAA) recently held its Gala Dinner after a two-year hiatus, the pandemic having postponed the annual gathering. The parties enjoyed the presence of H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence in the UAE and the evening’s Guest of Honor, H.E. Fouad Dandan, the Lebanese Ambassador to the UAE, Mr. Assaf Doumit, the Lebanese Consul General in Dubai, and Bishop Joseph Naffah, the Patriarchal Visitor for the Maronites in the Arabian Peninsula.
The Gala Dinner saw to the attendance of Fr. Bechara Khoury, NDU President, Abbot Semaan Abou Abdou, Vice President for Administration and Finance (VPAF), Dr. Antoine Farhat, Vice President for University Advancement (VPUA), Dr. Simon Abou Jaoude, Assistant Vice President for Academic Support (AVPAS), Ms. Joyce Menassa, Director of the Office of Admissions, and Ms. Mona Kanaan, Secretary of the NDU Board of Trustees (BoT).
The Gala opened with a speech by Fr. Khoury, welcoming both alumni and dignitaries who have all convened to celebrate NDU’s active and enduring community. Father President thanked H.E. the Minister, Dubai, and the UAE for their committed support of higher education institutions in Lebanon, and specifically of NDU, especially in light of the economic crisis. He cited the opportunities that the Emirates have provided the University’s alumni: “Dubai in particular opened its doors for you, its environment allowing you to prove yourselves and exercise your valuable skills, broaden your horizons, invest your energy, and translate your knowledge into practice.”
Concluding with an exhortation to the alumni, Fr. Khoury emphasized the necessity to “remain connected for the sake of the UAE, Lebanon, and your University,” by “expanding your networks for the benefit of both the country that took you in and the country that raised you.”
H.E. Sheikh Al Nahyan likewise took to the podium, saluting the pride the alumni take in NDU, noting as well the “important role these graduates play in the UAE, which we all appreciate.” He continued: “We actively and eagerly seek capable and qualified individuals, our country ready to support them in their creative and innovative endeavors, encouraging their research efforts and developments in all aspects of life.” The Minister was then gifted a symbolic trophy of recognition from the University following his warm address.
From the NDUAA itself, both Mr. Elie Hanna, NDUAA President, and Tony Cid, Esq. President of the UAE Chapter, greeted their fellow NDU graduates, the gathering a sigh of relief after the trials of the pandemic and a great sight despite all those hardships. Additionally present from the Association were Mr. Fadi Massaad, Secretary of the Board of the NDUAA, and Mr. Jack Saba, President of the Qatar Chapter.
The evening was a success in strengthening ties and coming back strong after a challenging two-year gap. In this spirit of hope, a facsimile was auctioned off with an excerpt of the renowned Charles Malek’s commencement address given at Hope College, Michigan, on June 3, 1953, titled “The Possibility of Peace,” a call to courage in times of struggle.
The UAE Gala was made complete with great entertainment: world-known tenor and alumnus, Amine Hachem, and singer and flautist, Nasma, gave an outstanding performance and set the ambience for the entire evening, one of aesthetic appreciation, joy, and long-lasting friendships that surpass any hardships.