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Dubai Duty Free Announces US $1.5 Million Donation to Smile Train.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The Dubai Duty Free Foundation has announced a donation of US$1.5 million to Smile Train, the world's largest charity dedicated to repairing cleft lip and cleft palate deformities in children. The announcement, which coincides with the duty free industry's 'Miles for Smiles' charity run in Dubai this past Saturday, is the largest single donation earmarked for Southeast Asia received by Smile Train since it was established in 1999.

The Dubai Duty Free Foundation, which was established by the airport retailer in October 2004, operates under the auspices of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports with Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free as the Foundation's Chairman.

Smile Train, which was founded ten years ago by two friends and business associates, Charles B. Wang and Brian F. Mullaney, is focused on the single problem of cleft lip and palate surgery which affects millions of children in developing countries. The charity has a global network of thousands of partner hospitals and participating cleft surgeons in 76 of the world's poorest countries.

The US$1.5 million donation by Dubai Duty Free is to be used over a three-year period at two Smile Train partner centres in the Philippines: the Philippine Band of Mercy in Manila and the Maharlika Centre in Davao City, Mindanao. The funds will be used to recruit additional staff, purchase vehicles and equipment, and to perform 3,800 cleft surgeries.

Commenting on the decision to select Smile Train for this three-year programme, Colm McLoughlin, Managing Director of Dubai Duty Free said: "Since we started our Foundation in October 2004, we have been working with several local and international charities that have specifically helped children. With the appointment of Anne Smith as Manager of Dubai Duty Free's Corporate Responsibility department last year, we have been able to better identify and study a number of causes that are close to our heart.

"Smile Train, which already has a relationship with the duty free industry thanks to the efforts of Martin Moodie (of the Moodie Report) and his colleagues, is a charity that we admire. In addition to being focused on repairing clefts in children in developing countries, Smile Train is also intent on training local doctors, nurses and hospital staff to solve the problem themselves. Following a good deal of research by Anne and a field trip to the Philippines, we felt that both the charity and the country were the right choice."

Commenting on the donation, Brian Mullaney, Co-Founder and President of Smile Train said: "Smile Train's mission is to help millions of children in the world who are walking around with gaping holes in their faces as a result of cleft lips and cleft palates that have never been repaired. Cleft surgery is relatively simple and takes as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as US$250. The reason these children have not been helped is because they are poor."

"We are extremely grateful to the Dubai Duty Free Foundation for such a significant contribution and we look forward to working with them to roll out the three year programme which will ultimately change the lives and fortunes of thousands of children in the Philippines."

Smile Train estimates that approximately 4,400 children are born with cleft lip and palate deformities annually in the Philippines and that there is a backlog of 150,000 untreated clefts.

During her field trip to the Philippines, Anne Smith was able to meet with Smile Train representatives, surgeons and hospital staff who undertake cleft surgeries in sometimes difficult situations.

"Given the size of the contribution that the Dubai Duty Free Foundation was considering, it was essential to travel to the country and see first hand what the funds could achieve. Smile Train's Regional Director, Rogelio la O', accompanied me to the centres in Manila and Mindanao, and showed me specifically where the equipment to be purchased with our funds would be used."

"I think that our contribution will go a long way towards clearing the backlog of surgeries in the Philippines. The fact that almost half of Dubai Duty Free staff are from the Philippines is a plus as, in some way, this donation to help their compatriots is a way of repaying their service and loyalty over the years."

Dubai Duty Free began operations in Dubai International Airport in 1983 and over the past twenty six years has grown to be the largest single airport retailer in the world with a turnover of US$1.1 billion in 2008. The retail operation employs 3.500 staff and has doubled its retail offer to over 15,000 square metres with the opening of Emirates Terminal 3 last October.

ABOUT SMILE TRAIN

Smile Train is the world's leading cleft charity with thousands of partners and programs in 76 of the world's poorest countries. The organization's mission is to help the more than 4.7 million children in developing countries who are suffering with unrepaired clefts. Smile Train provides free cleft surgery to children from poor families that give children not just a new smile, but a new life. Now in its tenth year, Smile Train has helped over 550,000 children.
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Publication:Business Wire
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 23, 2009
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