Presidential Accolades to Outstanding Youths in the Arab Community
Saturday, 24th March – Eight outstanding students from the Singapore Arab community were honoured today with scholastic achievement awards presented by Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore. The awards ceremony, organised by the Arab Network @Singapore (AN@S), is on its fourth year and was initiated by AN@S’ patron, Mr Mohamed Alhabshee who is also Mdm Halimah’s husband.
The awards were grouped into three categories: holistic, leadership and academic excellence and were conferred to high-performing students in the Arab community, whether from fully Arab or of mixed parentage. In addition, there were also 14 other commendation awards presented by Mdm Halimah that day. Mr Mohamed Alhabshee mentioned in his speech that the awards and mentorship programme were inspired by ”when I was at National University of Singapore (NUS) back in the day, they had a similar thing called Adik-Kakak Angkat – where first year students were mentored by senior students.” This, he added, was very valuable as “our learning curve is significantly shortened when we have a mentor to guide us, be it in studies or in our careers.”
The highest accolade of the afternoon, the AN@S Scholastic Achievement Award in Holistic Excellence, went to Miss Badriyah Abdullah Alhadad who is pursuing a PhD in Physiology at the NUS. In addition to her outstanding academic achievements, Ms Badriyah had, at the same time, represented Team Singapore 8 times in floorball last year, having bagged a gold medal for the country in the 2015 SEA Games too. All 22 award recipients not only received a monetary gift, but also membership to the AN@S Fam Slam Mentorship Programme conducted by the Alattas Group, where they will be given career guidance, skills enhancement as well as paired with mentors of seniors/experts in their fields of interest. According to Mr Omar Alattas, MD of the Alattas Group, “The programme will kick start this Saturday, 31st March with a session on heritage appreciation, contribution history and community building with the idea that these young achievers can help push boundaries and drive leadership efforts.”
Recipients of the awards were selected after having gone through a documentation vetting round followed by an interview process with a selection committee made up of senior level officers/professionals in the education and corporate sectors. The main sponsors for the awards this year is Lee Foundation and Sheng Siong Supermarket Pte Ltd while the supporting sponsors for the awards are Aqueen hotel and Mr Ahmad Bakar Bagarib. In his opening address, one of the key founding members of AN@S, Professor Farid Alatas who is also a professor at the NUS Department of Sociology, described the significant role of Singaporeans of Arab-descent, the hadhramis in particular, have made to Singapore in various fields including “politics, trans-oceanic trade, property and, importantly, education, where they had funded and set up various centers of education in Singapore and around the region which still exist till today.” He added that “AN@S’ members are truly inspired by our ancestors’ legacy and have made it a prerogative to encourage learning and the pursuit of scholastic excellence.”
Apart from the scholastic achievement awards, AN@S has, since its inception in 2010, been annually disbursing bursaries to students from lower income families of Arab background through a local scholarship body, LBKM. To date, a total of $55,000 has been distributed by AN@S either as scholastic awards or bursaries. Ms Khadijah Alattas, another founding member of AN@S, asserted that “our vision is to engage, unite and nurture the next generation of young Arabs with a strong sense of heritage, imbued with a will to do the best they can, to excel and succeed.”
Photos from the award ceremony can be viewed here: