Abu Dhabi: They have given back to their communities with such dedication and passion that their efforts have not only supported and inspired others, but have also caused those beyond the emirate, and even the country, to follow their example.
To salute their hard work, ten people, aged between ten and 92, were presented with awards during the biennial Abu Dhabi Awards special ceremony by General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Tuesday at the Emirates Palace Hotel.
Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, a consultant endocrinologist and Medical & Research Director at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, was one of seven Emiratis honoured and the only female recipient of the award.
"It was such a big surprise… and enormously touching because it shows that our efforts are accepted by the community. I'm also very humbled because when a patient comes to you, it's a great responsibility as a physician since they put their health in our hands… in fact, it's us who should be thanking them for giving us their trust," Dr Maha said.
Over 22,000 nominations were put forward for the sixth edition of the awards for contributions in various sectors which include the environment, health, community awareness, education and culture and heritage.
"I didn't expect to be nominated or even awarded… but I'm very proud to have received it… I'm happy that as a result of my efforts, future generations will have access to their heritage because its very important to know where you're coming from," Alain Saint-Hilaire, a Canadian citizen who travelled to Abu Dhabi on a yearly basis in the 70s and 80s, chronicling the emirate's rise, said.
His works include thousands of pictures, books and several documentaries about the UAE and the region.
Nominees must be residents of the emirate. However, anyone, whether in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, or outside, may submit a candidate's name. This can be done through various processes, whether electronically, by mail, through the nine drop boxes located across the emirate and 10 manned booths in Abu Dhabi.
They are then reviewed individually and reported to the Review Committee.
The work of the review committee is then evaluated by a Higher Review Committee made up of Abu Dhabi's leading dignitaries, government officials and industry directors.
"We were so proud that Abdul won…he was very excited not only to be recognised for all his efforts but also for the fact that he was the youngest recipient," Andaleeb Mannan, the mother of Abdul Muqeet Abdul Mannan, a Grade 5 Indian pupil known as the ‘Paper Bag Boy', for creating and distributing thousands of bags from discarded newspapers.