x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Time to honour Abu Dhabi's unsung heroes

Nominations are open for Abu Dhabi Awards - the scheme celebrates generous and kind acts by Emiratis and expatriates and recognises those who make a difference to their community.

Hassan Al Saigal nominates his brother, Yousef, for the Abu Dhabi Awards at a booth in Marina Mall yesterday, as this year’s event was officially launched. Nominations can be made until May 31. Ravindranath K / The National
Hassan Al Saigal nominates his brother, Yousef, for the Abu Dhabi Awards at a booth in Marina Mall yesterday, as this year’s event was officially launched. Nominations can be made until May 31. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Hassan Al Saigal believes his older brother embodies the spirit of the Abu Dhabi Awards.

The 58-year-old said his sibling, Yousef, became the emirate’s first Emirati teacher when he joined the former Mohammad bin Al Qasim School in the 1960s.

He furthered the education of thousands of children but also went the extra mile outside of the classroom.

In his spare time, Yousef, now 60, set up scout groups to offer pupils extra-curricular activities.

He also established a number of literacy centres to help those who could not read or write.

After his work in education, Yousef became a deputy minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he continued his efforts to make Abu Dhabi a better place to live and work until his retirement.

He has now been nominated for an Abu Dhabi Award by his proud brother. The awards celebrate individuals for their acts of generosity and kindness, and recognise those who have made a positive contribution to the community.

The accolades honour the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE.

Filling out his nomination form at Marina Mall yesterday, Hassan explained how his brother had worked tirelessly to help others.

“I am so proud of my brother,” he said. “He has been a teacher and a diplomat. He cares about others and he deserves to win an Abu Dhabi Award.”

His nomination is one of hundreds that will be made across the emirate in the coming month.

The 2013 Abu Dhabi Awards were officially launched yesterday and nominations can be made until May 31 at 11 manned booths across the emirate, or at 90 drop-boxes.

Salem Boyout, 28, was at Marina Mall to nominate his former boss, Khalifa Al Sweidy, the general manager of Emirates Aluminium.

He said Mr Al Sweidy had built his career from nothing and helped create hundreds of jobs for locals in the construction sector.

“He helped a lot of people get into work,” said Mr Boyout, who works for the Department of Transport. “He is a good leader, it is easy to approach him and he helps everybody.”

Organisers have appealed for nominations from far and wide for this year’s awards, which are under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Emiratis and expatriates were encouraged to nominate anyone who had contributed to supporting and benefiting the community, regardless of age, nationality or gender. There is no limit to how many nominations one person can make.

Among the winners at the last biennial awards ceremony was Sultan Al Dhaheri. A philanthropist and an advocate for scholarships, the FNC member for Abu Dhabi pays school and university fees for deserving students.

In 2011, he made a Dh10 million endowment to Zayed University for the appointment of a chair in Islamic finance.

Sheikh Mohammed will present trophies to the winners during a ceremony in December attended by senior Government figures and previous award recipients.

In addition to the manned booths and drop-boxes, mobile vans will also be travelling around the emirate during the next six weeks collecting nominations.

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.

Since the awards were launched in 2005, there have been more than 193,500 nominations and 56 people have been honoured.

jbell@thenational.ae