Bird conservationist Oscar Campbell and shark researcher Rima Jabado were yesterday awarded the annual natural history awards by the Emirates Natural History Group.
Mr Campbell, a chemistry teacher at the British School Al Khubairat, is chairman of the Emirates Bird Records Committee, which has carried out extensive work to record and count populations of important resident and migratory birds.
He was awarded the Sheikh Mubarak bin Mohammed Prize for Natural History. "This is a big honour, if you look at some of the people who have received this award before," Mr Campbell said.
For 20 years, the award has recognised some of the most prominent researchers and conservationists.
Past recipients include influential naturalist Gary Feulner and the late Simon Aspinal, author of several influential books including Breeding Birds of the UAE.
"To be in company like this is very touching," said Mr Campbell, 38.
He was chosen because of his original research and publication of topics related to UAE natural history. He has written extensively, in local and international scientific publications.
Mr Campbell plans to continue researching and recording rare and endangered bird species such as the Socotra cormorant, of which Abu Dhabi hosts 35 per cent of the world's population.
Ms Jabado, 33, is a postgraduate student at UAE University and has been studying sharks in the Arabian Gulf since 2011.
Her work provides baseline data on the Gulf's sharks for the first time. It also provides knowledge on the biology of sharks and UAE shark fishing - both of which are important for setting up conservation policies.
She said she was surprised to learn she was chosen for the Bish Brown Award. "It shows people really care about my project and I am very happy about that.
The Lebanese national is completing her thesis.
"My first choice will be to stay in the UAE and work with sharks," she said. "Ideally, I would like to stay and build on my research here."
Ms Jabado is also interested in helping to develop policies to protect sharks in the UAE and the Gulf.
Mr Campbell and Ms Jabado received their awards from Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
He spoke of the importance of the work done by the conservationists and by the Emirates Natural History Group.
"This is a very important society, established here for a very long time," said Sheikh Nahyan, who is also the group's patron. "This society creates through its members, awareness on how to protect the UAE's environment.
"It also contributes to recording baseline environmental information for future generations.
Through its work, the group contributes to continuing the vision of Sheikh Zayed, founding father of the UAE, who had a great interest in preserving the UAE's flora and fauna, Sheikh Nahyan said.