x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Wanted: yet more unsung heroes for Abu Dhabi Awards

Almost five weeks after voting began on April 21, thousands of nominations have come in via hundreds of booths in the city and a fleet of specially branded touring cars that can be flagged down.

The ice breaker: Zahra Lari is among the nominations for the Abu Dhabi Award. The teenager is the first female Emirati to compete internationally in figure skating. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
The ice breaker: Zahra Lari is among the nominations for the Abu Dhabi Award. The teenager is the first female Emirati to compete internationally in figure skating. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // With less than a week until nominations for the Abu Dhabi Awards close, organisers are urging residents to propose unsung heroes for the capital's highest honour.

Almost five weeks after voting began on April 21, thousands of nominations have come in via hundreds of booths in the city and a fleet of specially branded touring cars that can be flagged down.

Nominations have also arrived by email, post and phone, but organisers want to see more names before polls close on Friday.

"It has been a great response so far," a member of the organising committee said. "It is positive to see the numbers of nominations increase day by day.

"Each year we have tried to make it easier for people to nominate and we now have more than 100 drop-off points and manned stations across Abu Dhabi, as well as the free number, 800 3331, an online nominations form and our fleet of cars that can be flagged down.

"Normally in the final stage of the nominations period, we see a late surge and we would say to those who have not yet nominated that it a great feeling to do so."

"We want to remind everyone that people can make more than one nomination, although we are asking for quality rather than quantity," the organiser said.

The awards, established in 2005, honour compassionate individuals or organisations who have selflessly volunteered their time, at home or abroad, to build and support the community of Abu Dhabi.

The theme of this year's awards is Goodness Knows No Limits, which, organisers hope will dispel any impressions of exclusivity.

Everyone, young and old, Emirati or expatriate, women or men are eligible.

With the emphasis this year on encouraging younger voters, children as young as 6 up to university students have nominated in their thousands.

Leading the way was the UAE's top figure skater - the Emirati teenager Zahra Lari.

"This is all about local heroes who do not usually get recognition being made to feel special and it's great to be involved," said Zahra, who made history when she became the first female Emirati to compete internationally in figure skating.

Previous Abu Dhabi Award winners include Dr Maha Barakat, who works tirelessly to raise awareness of diabetes and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Recently appointed director general of Health Authority Abu Dhabi, Dr Barakat has led many healthy lifestyle campaigns in the emirate including the Diabetes-Knowledge-Action initiative, the I Eat Healthy campaign and the Walk Together marathon.

Recognising that diabetes is one of the UAE's biggest killers, Dr Barakat was also instrumental in establishing the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Awards committee is looking for more people like her.

During the final week of nominations, the awards fleet of cars will continue to tour the emirate to encourage people to suggest individuals who have committed acts of generosity or kindness, or made a positive contribution towards the community.

The fleet has been on the road since April 21, when nominations opened, travelling to schools and universities.

There are also 11 manned booths across the emirate and 90 drop-boxes.

Alternatively, you can post a completed nomination form to PO Box 44442, Abu Dhabi, UAE. More information about where to make a nomination is available at abudhabiawards.ae, where you can also complete an online form.

After nominations are collected and whittled down, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, will present the awards at a ceremony in December.

jbell@thenational.ae