Abu Dhabi: Eight heroes were presented with the Abu Dhabi Awards on Sunday by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for their remarkable contribution to the community.

Shaikh Mohammad highlighted the commitment of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the Abu Dhabi Awards. The programme continues to preserve the legacy of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, father of the nation, he added.

This year, recipients were from a diverse age group - including school children - and included people from different professional backgrounds.

One of the winners was 12-year-old Cameron Oliver. The South African boy, with the support of his parents, was the driving force behind a nation-wide community awareness campaign about camels dying as a result of eating plastic bags thrown in the desert.

Oliver was inspired by the pioneering Gulf News environmental campaign, "Say No To Plastic Bags", which was concluded last week.

Among the winners this year was Dr Amal Abdulla Al Qubaisi of the UAE, currently a member of the Federal National Council, an architect who has documented over 350 historical sites in the past 15 years. Rashid Mohammad Al Daheri, 74, of the UAE, who has been working to increase literacy among Al Ain's elderly women was also honoured. Another winner was the late Briton Sir Wilfred Thesiger of UK, an explorer, who famously lived with the Bedouins for five years.

Gulf News, other media kept out of awards

Despite covering the annual Abu Dhabi Awards ceremony and working carefully with organisers for the past three years, Gulf News was denied access to the main event on Sunday night.

Gulf News reporters and photographers were told by the organisers the function was closed to the media "except for Abu Dhabi TV and the English language daily the National."

Journalists from other newspapers, such as the Sharjah-based Al Khaleej and Abu Dhabi-based Al Itihad, who covered the award ceremony last year, tried to enter the reception hall at the Emirates Palace but were asked to leave the venue. When Gulf News contacted the organising committee, this reporter was told she can interview winners "the next day or the day after."