MANILA: The Wisdom International School for Higher Education Studies (WISHES) in Mindanao awarded an honorary doctorate, the Doctor of Humanities (Honoris Causa), to Khaled Almaeena, editor in chief of Arab News, on Monday. The award was in recognition of Almaeena’s outstanding accomplishments in the media and his exemplary humanitarian activities, particularly for the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. WISHES President Omar M. Mababaya awarded Almaeena the doctoral degree. Also on Monday, the Regional Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Norma M. Sharief, awarded Almaeena a certificate of appreciation for his accomplishments in business administration at an international symposium held in Manila. The ceremony was attended by 500 experts and academics from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea in addition to a large number of educators in the Philippines. Almaeena is currently visiting Philippines at the invitation of the president of CHED to deliver the keynote speech at the international symposium, “The Role of Education in Fostering Islamic Understanding, Peace and Development” co-hosted by CHED and WISHES. Almaeena also presented a paper on the role of Saudi Arabia in promoting peace through dialogue between religions, particularly emphasizing the initiative of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. “Almaeena deserves this honor from the people of the Philippines in appreciation of his dedicated service to humanity. His bold defense of the rights of expatriate workers has won the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos working not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the whole Gulf region. He is known for his writings championing the cause of the oppressed and underprivileged, whether they are Muslims or not,” Sharief said in awarding Almaeena the certification in business administration. The CHED chief added that in addition to being a well-known journalist and appearing as a noted analyst of international, regional and local developments on CNN, BBC, ARY, Geo and other international networks, Almaeena is known in the Gulf and countries in other regions for his philanthropic works, including material assistance to educational development. Mababaya underscored in his speech the role of Almaeena “in presenting the real face of Islam as a religion of peace always ready to listen to others’ views.” In his speech, Almaeena lauded the Filipino community in the Kingdom for its hard work and dedication in helping develop Saudi Arabia; he made special reference to the community’s vital role in the Kingdom’s health sector. Almaeena also outlined the interfaith dialogues initiated by King Abdullah in Madrid, Makkah and then at the New York headquarters of the United Nations. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had participated in the New York event.