On February 13, 2008 Autism Speaks and the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs in Doha, Qatar announced a new partnership designed to increase global autism awareness and speed the pace of autism research. The agreement was formalized on Wednesday when Hassan Ali Bin Ali, chairman of the Shafallah Center, and Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, signed the official partnership agreement. The press conference was attended by Maha Ali Bin Ali, wife of Hassan Ali Bin Ali,
View highlights of the partnership signing ceremony (YouTube Video ~3.5 minutes)
Autism Speaks staff and volunteers, employees of the Shafallah Center, families affected by autism, and members of the press.
This initiative began almost a year ago in April, when Suzanne Wright, Dr. Andy Shih, vice president of scientific affairs for Autism speaks, and Priscilla Natkins from the Ad Council were invited to make a presentation about autism awareness at the Shafallah Center's 2nd Annual International Forum. In less than a year, guided by the vision of Her Royal Highness Sheikha Mozah, wife of His Highness the Emir of Qatar and the leadership of chairman Hassan Ali Bin Ali, the two parties have turned their shared passion to help the autism community into a partnership.
“Together with the Shafallah Center we promise to give our community hope,” said Suzanne Wright. “Through awareness, patient registry and research, this partnership will speed the pace of discovery and delivery of answers to families in Qatar and the United States as well as families around the world.”
Autism Speaks also joined with the State of Qatar last year to petition for the first ever United Nations sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day. In December, the UN adopted the Qatari resolution designating April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day.
From left, Bob Wright, Maha Ali Bin Ali, Suzanne Wright, Hassan Ali Bin Ali
Suzanne Wright and Hassan Ali Bin signing the agreement formalizing the partnership