The British Council announced three Egyptian winners of the Study UK Alumni Awards 2018-2019 in a ceremony at the British Embassy in Cairo on 26 February.
A total of nine UK alumni in Egypt were shortlisted and recognised for their outstanding achievements as business professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders, and for their important contribution to strengthening collaborative ties between the UK and Egypt.
The prestigious international award celebrates UK higher education and the achievements of UK alumni all over the world. Now in its fifth year, the award received more than 1,400 applications from international UK alumni in more than 100 countries, representing more than 120 UK higher education institutions across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Following in-depth interviews with a judging panel, recipients were selected for the three award categories: Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurial, and Social Impact.
The Professional Achievement Award, which recognises alumni who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership in their professional field, was presented by a London Business School 2007 graduate, adventurer and entrepreneur Omar Samra, to the winner Samir Omara, graduate of the University of Exeter.
Omara is the head of Professional Development for Teachers at the First Professional Development Programme run by the Egyptian Ministry of Education.
Azza Fahmy, Elizabeth White and Sir Geoffrey Adams with entrepreneurial award winner Omnia El Rashidy
The Social Impact Award, which acknowledges alumni who have made an exceptional contribution to creating positive social change, was presented by Khaled Habib, radio presenter and CEO of Fit for Life, who studied at the British School in Egypt, to the winner Maha Helali, a graduate of the University College London.
Helali is now the vice-head of a new Committee for Women with Disabilities within the National Council for Women (NCW), and in 2017 was named as one of the top 50 Most Influential Women by Amwal Al-Ghad magazine in its Outstanding Women Initiative to empower women.
Samir Omara winner of professional achievment award with Elizabeth White, Omar Samra and Sir Geoffrey Adams
The Entrepreneurial Award, which highlights alumni who have played a leading role in innovation or creative solutions, was presented by world-renowned jeweller Azza Fahmy, who was also offered by the British Council earlier in her career a six-month grant to study jewellery making in London, to the winner Omnia El-Rashidy, a graduate of the Sheffield Hallam University.
El-Rashidy’s community-based medical programme enhances the quality of life for families with disabled children. She worked as a Medical Consultant for the National Council of Disabilities and Function in Egypt and currently takes her expertise to hospitals, teaching professionals her newly-adopted treatment approach.
Maha Helali winner of the social impact award with Khaled Habib, Elizabeth White and Sir Geoffrey Adams
This year’s winners were chosen by an esteemed panel of juries that included British Council Egypt Director Elizabeth White, head of education at British Council Egypt Sahar Khamis, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the British University in Egypt Shadia Fahim, as well as Nevine Sharaf, Chevening programme manager at the British embassy, Khaled Habib, Mohamed Salheen, general secretary at the National Engineering Committee, Supreme Council of Universities, and Heba Kholeif, winner of the Social Impact Award in the 2017 UK Alumni Awards.
British ambassador to Egypt Sir Geoffrey Adams said, “Bringing together Egyptian talent and British education is a recipe for success. The winners of the awards today show just how true this is. We’re working to give more Egyptians the opportunity to benefit from the UK’s world-leading education system, not just in the UK but here in Egypt too, including through a growing number of partnerships between British and Egyptian institutions.”
“I can’t think of a better use of celebrating the Egyptian students’ success in the UK than getting together the alumni of the British Universities in Egypt, because in Egypt they are the best talented by definition and they build their country making it even better as they get the best British universities can offer,” he said.
Egypt is the first country to host the awards this year and will be followed by awarding ceremonies in another 12 countries, including Ghana, Pakistan, and the USA.