x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hitting the road to learn about Abu Dhabi's local heroes

A fleet of cars will act as mobile nomination stations to increase participation in the Abu Dhabi Awards.

ABU DHABI // Thousands of unsung heroes have been put forward for an Abu Dhabi Award since nominations opened two weeks ago - and many more are expected to flood in this week.

A fleet of specially branded cars is touring the emirate to encourage residents to suggest individuals who have committed acts of generosity, kindness or made a positive contribution towards the community.

The group of Daihatsu Sirions - bearing the Abu Dhabi Awards logo - will act as mobile nomination stations, which can be flagged down and stopped by any member of the public.

The cars will also visit crowded areas such as the Corniche. The National joined the tour last week as the vehicles went to Khalifa University.

Umalkhair Ahmed, 19, put forward Katherine Hall, an "inspirational" professor of literature at the university who set up a project that asked students to bring in food, clothing and essential goods to be donated to needy families in the Philippines at Christmas.

She also encouraged students to join her in teaching English to cleaning and waiting staff. "She gives back," said Ms Ahmed, a biomedical engineer student from Canada.

"She is definitely an inspiration. Every semester she has a different project and she does it because she cares, not for any kind of recognition."

Another Khalifa University student, Ahmed Al Saadi, 21, nominated a family friend, Hathbor Al Rumaithi. A fisherman and boat maker by trade, Mr Al Rumaithi dedicates hours of his spare time to pass on his tricks of the trade to the younger generation. "He is keeping our tradition and heritage alive," said Mr Al Saadi, a medical engineering student.

Computer engineer Aidarous Al Hashmi, 23, was nominated for delivering a weekly Friday sermon to teach life lessons to the younger generation. He also helped organise the 41st National Day celebrations and was part of the Special Olympics Mena committee.

Rabie Nammour, part of the Abu Dhabi Awards team collecting nominations, said the touring group was an integral part of the campaign to get people to nominate an unsung hero. "It gets people to stop and think about putting someone forward for an award," he said.

"It attracts attention. People see the fleet and get curious and want to know exactly what the Abu Dhabi Awards is all about. The response is a lot better."

Winners of the awards, which honour the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed, are chosen on the merit of their actions and not on the numbers of nominations they receive.

Each candidate is investigated and evaluated by a panel, who present a final shortlist to a judging committee made up of senior government officials.

The committee is assigned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

The winners are announced at a ceremony in December. Nominating someone is easy. There are 11 manned booths across the emirate and 90 drop-boxes.

You can also post a completed nomination form to PO Box 44442, Abu Dhabi, UAE. More information about where to make a nomination is available at www.abudhabiawards.ae, where you can also fill out an online form. Nominations close on May 31.

jbell@thenational.ae