Artwork raises funds for Syrian refugees in Dubai charity auction

Funds from the sale of the artwork on Wednesday night, which was donated by Philanthropy Age in conjunction with Ermes, will be passed to the UN refugee agency UNHCR

A painting by acclaimed Arabic artist Ali Omar Ermes has raised $195,750 in a charity art auction in Dubai, with a significant proportion of proceeds set to aid refugees fleeing the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Funds from the sale of the artwork on Wednesday night, which was donated by Philanthropy Age in conjunction with Ermes, and sold by Christie's auction house, will be passed to the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The anticipated $80,000 donation will be used to provide essential aid to the more than 2.5 million people that have escaped the bloodshed in Syria.

"The team at Philanthropy Age simply wants to help make a difference. Thanks to the generosity of Ali Omar Ermes, we can, and there is no worthier cause than the Syrian refugee crisis," said Leonard Stall, editor-in-chief of the magazine.

[To watch a video of the auction, click here]

The painting is a depiction of the Sixth Ode from the seven highly respected Arabic poems known as the Muallaqat Al Sabaa. Considered to be the finest pieces of early Arabic poetry, each describes aspects of cultural, social and political life. Often when a poem was judged to be exceptional, it would be intricately and delicately embroidered on the finest silk cloth and hung at the Ka’ba as a sign of its importance.

Last week marked the third anniversary of the Syria conflict, which has seen some 9 million residents driven from their homes and a further 2.5 million flee across borders to neighbouring countries. Lebanon alone now houses some 974,000 refugees, according to UNHCR figures.

The UN warned last week that Syrians have now replaced Afghans as the world's largest refugee population, and urged the global community to pursue a political solution to the crisis.

“Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels,” UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. “Only a political solution will end the nightmare of the Syrian people. All should reflect on the long and growing list of horrors taking place in Syria every day. The effects and threats of this conflict will only grow and spread.”