Your Majesty, Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

I regret being unable to make the trip from Los Angeles to Marrakech to be with you. I had a prior engagement that I was unable to alter.

At times like these, one is expected to express gratitude and humility at receiving this special recognition and sharing it with all of you.  And I am truly grateful and humbled. This is a moment in life when I reflect and discover that there is not enough time to thank all those who have contributed to making my journey such a successful one.

When I left boarding school in Tripoli, north Lebanon to go back to my country of birth Nigeria, I was only 12 years old. I remember praying to God and telling him: “Dear God, use me, guide my life.” I never imagined what the future would hold for me. But I knew there was a vision for my life that was greater than I could imagine.

That dream, that desire, that prayer directed me toward the world of business, civic life and humanitarian purpose.  My dream was to be able to raise a family; the only giver is God, He gave me beyond what I dreamed of in all levels, family, business and my standing in society. For this, I consider it a duty to give back to help others who are less fortunate.  This is not only for me; it is also for my companion, my soul mate, my wife, Rose-Marie.

This is a story of human progress, the hope of each and every one of us. At this moment of particular challenge in the Middle East, human progress must be our collective work. We must all struggle to engage and transform reality as a force for good.

I receive the TAKREEM Lifetime Achievement Award with deep humility. It recognizes that man can face the adversity, cruelty and hardship of our world and succeed.

We are not slaves of our fate. Our actions matter, and can turn history in the direction of justice.

Thank you very much.

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