DOHA-QATAR: Love Ball Arabia, held in partnership with Qatar museums and Under the Patronage of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Natalia Vodianova yesterday evening, welcomed high-profile guests from around the world for a gala dinner and auction to raise funds for support programmes for children with special needs in Qatar and in Russia.
The charity gala and auction managed to raise 7,471,976 USD for both Naked Heart Foundation and Al Shafallah.
All proceeds from Love Ball Arabia will benefit the work of Al Shafallah Centre and Naked Heart Foundation, funding the development of professional support services for families of children with mental, physical and sensory disabilities as well as enhancing advocacy campaigns in both Russia and Qatar while raising awareness of the cause. The funds raised from Love Ball Arabia will aid Al Shafallah in establishing a highly-anticipated new community center catered to individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism above 21 years old.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, said “Love Ball Arabia was organised in support of one of the noblest purposes I can imagine: providing care and assistance to some of the most vulnerable people in our society—children with special needs. The two organisations we recognised tonight have done tremendous work in improving the lives of children with disabilities and inspiring the same qualities of hope, growth and renewal. I was deeply moved to see people from many different nations and backgrounds gathered at the Museum of Islamic Art in a universal effort to improve the lives of children with special needs.”
Natalia Vodianova, founder of Naked Heart Foundation, said “Love Ball Arabia is our inclusivity work in action: making sure people with special needs enjoy equal opportunities. Tonight’s event featured performers with mental and physical disability alongside their typically developed peers and ballet icons, and brought to life the experiences of families like mine. I’m proud and honoured to champion inclusion in action in this engaging and fun way.”
The evening comprised a gala dinner with an immersive theatrical performance, combining dance, music and art produced by acclaimed performers alongside actors with special needs. Presented by the incredible Iman Bowie, the programme included a unique performance by Sergei Polunin, accompanied by the musical piece “The Song of Distant Earth”. The dance was created specifically for Love Ball Arabia.
The performance was followed by an exclusive fashion show by Ulyana Sergeenko featuring the full Spring-Summer 2019 collection, complemented with brand-new couture pieces inspired by and devoted to Qatar. The models on the catwalk included Madeline Stuart, the world’s first supermodel with Down’s Syndrome, and each appearance was accompanied by the world’s rarest Burmese rubies from Faidee jewellery house.
The evening culminated in a charity auction held by Lord Mark Poltimore of Sotheby’s, offering a variety of extraordinary lots from ‘money-can’t-buy’ experiences to exclusive luxury items. Among the highlights were: ‘Meet and Greet’ with top players from Paris Saint-Germain F.C.; Daniel Arsham’s unique sculpture ‘Wrapped Frog’; lunch with Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen; personalised fashion advice and a couture dress by Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing; afternoon tea with Valentino Garavani at his Château de Wideville; exquisite diamond jewellery pieces from Chopard’s Haute Joaillerie collection; Ulyana Sergeenko unique Couture gown with Faidee limited edition ruby brooch; artwork by Markus Martinovitch, visual artist with autism ‘Mama in a dress with dots’; one of a kind ‘Naked Heart” ring with heart shaped 20,78ct garnet created especially for Love Ball Arabia by Russian jewellery and fashion house founded by designer Yana Raskovalova; and many more desirable items.
The dinner’s bespoke menu was created especially for the evening by the renowned Moscow chef of the outstanding Severyane restaurant, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Georgy Troyan, offering a contemporary twist on traditional Russian cuisine.
The Love Ball Arabia is evidence of the work of Naked Heart Foundation and Al Shafallah Center in advocating for a fully inclusive society that connects the world of people with mental disabilities with that of those typically developed. Many of the performers, contributors and artists of the evening’s event are themselves people with special needs, with the gala highlighting how these two worlds can enrich and influence each other.