From reducing childhood obesity to instilling a sense of giving in the next generation, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, is the modern face of health and wellbeing in the UAE.
In an exclusive interview with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Princess Haya explained how she overcame the grief of her mother’s death by getting involved in humanitarian work.
“My interest in the healthcare sector started out sadly with my mother passing away when I was three years-old, as she was visiting a hospital in Jordan.”
Queen Alia of Jordan, the wife of the current King, was killed in a helicopter crash in 1977 while touring a hospital inspection in Southern Jordan.
“The fact that she died visiting a hospital and that she was trying to serve people… I wanted to grow up and do what my mum was trying to do,” said the princess, who was just three at the time of the tragedy.
“I often went and visited the hospital she died at, in Tafileh. I'd always go and sit with the doctors, I think they realised that it was helping me psychologically to feel that I was doing something.”
In the first part of the three part interview, also published in the 418-page September issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia, the princess went on to say that the time spent with her father in a medical facility before he succumbed to cancer inspired the opening of the Al Jalila Children’s hospital, where children would have a “wide open space” to get well.
She said her own humanitarian endeavours have helped inspired those of her children.
Sheikha Jalila Al Maktoum, daughter of HH Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum donated her life savings to food aid charity the World Food Program after she saw a photo of a man starving in south Sudan, her mother said.
“Jalila saw a picture of a man in South Sudan, who is starving. And then I saw that she'd written a letter to the World Food Programme and donated her life savings, which was 167 pounds and 26 pence, to the World Food Programme. So, I thought that was one way to start. It was a very, very good start.”
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