x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Nominations flood in for Abu Dhabi awards

Winners will chosen on the merit of their actions, not by the number of votes.

Abdulla Akurbi, 18, and Sultan Alharthi, 18, from the Abu Dhabi Mens College fill out nomination forms.
Abdulla Akurbi, 18, and Sultan Alharthi, 18, from the Abu Dhabi Mens College fill out nomination forms.

ABU DHABI // Thousands of nominations have poured in over the past two weeks to put forward Abu Dhabi's unsung heroes. Organisers of the Abu Dhabi Awards, which celebrate the accomplishments of individuals for showing acts of generosity, kindness or positive contributions towards the community, have so far received 7,000 nominations and expect that number to increase threefold by the end of the month.

"It is encouraging to see people appreciating the good deeds of others by participating in the nomination process," said Maryam Amiri, of the awards' organising committee. "However it is important to note that we care about the quality of nominations more than the number. A person can win an award even if they receive only one vote. The point is to find those people whose actions have previously gone unnoticed."

The awards were established as a result of the commitment of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, to preserve the legacy of his father, the late Sheikh Zayed. During his lifetime, Sheikh Zayed believed in the generosity and kindness of the people in the UAE, and that every person had a sense to care for others deep inside. In 2005, under the auspices of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Awards were launched in order to spread awareness about philanthropists among citizens and residents of the emirate. The awards were also intended to encourage others to reach out and help one another.

This year's awards, purposely launched during the holy month of Ramadan, opened for nominations on Sept 7 and will run until Oct 5. Any resident of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain or Western Region who has made an important contribution can be nominated, regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity. Nominations are being sought from all sectors of society. The committee visits schools across the region every year to encourage children to participate in the nomination process and there are nomination stations in malls, corporate buildings and government ministries. Finally there is a fleet of Smart cars touring the emirate which act as mobile nomination stations and can be flagged down and stopped by any member of the public. Winners are chosen based on the merit of their actions and not on the numbers of votes they receive. Each nomination is investigated and evaluated by a nomination panel, who then present a final shortlist to a judging committee made of senior government officials. The judging committee is assigned by Sheikh Mohammed.

"We want to recognise the deed and not the person," said Ms Amiri. The number of awards to be presented is based on the merit level of the people who were nominated. Ten individuals were given awards in 2005 and 2006, while nine received awards in 2007. Last year, 34,000 nominations were received, the majority from men. However, Ms Amiri wants to encourage women, students, executives and westerners to put forward their suggestions this year.

"We want to hear from all ages and nationalities," she said. "As well as through word of mouth and media advertisements, we are trying to reach as many people through the internet. "We expect more nominations to come in towards the end of the month when the advertising campaign becomes more aggressive but so far we are really pleased with the way things are going," added Ms Amiri. Winners will receive their awards from Sheikh Mohammed at the award ceremony in December at the Emirates Palace hotel. Only winners and their families are allowed to attend, in addition to VIPs from across Abu Dhabi.

After the awards presentation, winners will enjoy a banquet in the company of Sheikh Mohammed, to honour their valuable contributions. hdajani@thenational.ae