Haitham Shoman (Finalist)
2013
Egypt

Fine dining takes on a new meaning when the host is Haitham Shoman and his peers from “Dinner in the Dark.” Three years ago, Haitham teamed up with members of the Egyptian Medical Students Association to raise awareness of the needs – and talents – of the estimated 800,000 Egyptians who are blind. This led them to design an annual dining experience during which top celebrities enjoy an elegant meal in a darkened, 5-star restaurant with eight visually-impaired children. The celebrities must find their way to the table, select dishes from a braille menu, and navigate the food on their plates. The result is both messy and mind-expanding as the stars learn about the interests and hobbies of the younger diners. Says Haitham, a soon-to-be surgeon, “What people realize is that when you close your eyes, your other senses go to work. This is part of what makes blind people so talented.”

Website: www.emsa.org.eg