Birzeit University, in a ceremony held under the patronage and in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Tolerance, who has conferred the Doctorate Honoris Causa to the Palestinian businessman Riad T. Al Sadek, for his great efforts in the social and economic development of the Arab world and his generous donations to Birzeit University.
The ceremony was held in Dubai on Saturday, February 3, 2018, and was attended by Birzeit University’s Chair of the Board of Trustees Dr. Hanna Nasser, President of Birzeit University Dr. Abdullatif Abuhijleh, and many members from the university’s Board of Trustees and administration.
“With all happiness and assurance, we express our deep love for the people of Palestine and our full confidence in their abilities and determination to achieve victory and achieve all their national goals,” said His Highness Sheikh Nahyan. “Our celebration tonight of such an esteemed Palestinian figure is a clear confirmation of our confidence that the brotherly people of Palestine derive their energy, ability, and determination from the enthusiasm and fortitude of their sons and daughters. Our gathering tonight is a clear affirmation of the ability of Palestinians to establish their free and independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Dr. Nasser expressed his gratitude to the Sheikh and to the UAE for its support to the Palestinians in all parts of life, especially education. He said,” What sets Birzeit University is its philosophy, which it always upholds and never deviates from. Our philosophy is to build on intellectual liberalism, openness to global cultures, and freedom of expression. I am proud to witness many Birzeit University graduates lead their communities because of the freedom that they’ve embraced while studying at Birzeit and their exposure to global cultures, which, at Birzeit, can be likened to a mandatory course for all students.”
Dr. Abuhijleh expressed his appreciation for the United Arab Emirates, saying “the UAE has contributed greatly to Birzeit University. The university recently concluded a project, which the Emirates Red Crescent funded with approximately two million dollars, to update the computerized network of the university and renovate the labs of the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering and Technology. There is also the 3000-square-meter Sheikh Rashid Bin Said Al-Maktoum Building, which was established in 1999 by a generous donation from Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.”
“We are proud to confer the Doctorate Honoris Causa on our friend Riad Al Sadek, whose munificent donations and contributions paved the way for thousands of students to earn esteemed degrees that would allow them to build their communities and homes and contribute to the advancement and development of their nation,” said Dr. Abuhijleh.
“Al Sadek,” Dr. Abuhijleh added, “has contributed generously to the establishment of the four-story, 5200-square-meter Riad Tawfik Al-Sadek Faculty of Law and Public Administration, which was recently inaugurated.”
Al Sadek thanked Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan for supporting the ceremony, and Birzeit University for awarding him with an honorary degree. He said, “The relationship between Birzeit University and the Emirati universities is one of brotherhood and amity; one need only look around in this country to see the great monuments built for education. The leaders of the United Arab Emirates held science in the highest of regards, and we encourage such a path.”
During the ceremony, Birzeit University’s graduate Khader Tarazi gave the alumni speech, while Tania Tamari Nasser sang two songs, entitled “Dreams of my People” and “Al Quds Arabiya,” which were written and composed by Rima Nasser Tarazi.
Riad Al Sadek was born in the village of Deir al-Qasi in the Galilee in 1943. He was deported with his family to Lebanon in 1948, joined the American University in Beirut and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1964. In the early 1970s, he partnered with Khalaf Al Habtoor to establish Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises, which became one of the largest conglomerates in the Middle East with projects in many Gulf and Middle Eastern countries.
Today, Al Sadek is the chair of the Board of Directors of HLG Contracting, owner and chair of the Board of Directors of the Construction Machinery Management Center, and chair of the Board of Directors of Al Habtoor Marble Company (Dar Al Rokham).
He is also the owner of the Grand Millennium Business Bay, Rosegrade Ltd. (a UK services company), and the Gulf-American Company Inc. In addition, Al Sadek is a member of the Board of Trustees of Birzeit University, the Institute for Palestine Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. Al Sadek also has many philanthropic contributions.