Abu Dhabi awards serve to build a better UAE

The people honoured at this year's award ceremony, along with those in the past, deserve their recognition and are an inspiration to all

President Sheikh Mohamed presents an Abu Dhabi Award to Klaithem Obaid Al Matrooshi. The awards were founded in 2005 and are a tribute to the legacy of UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Abdulla Al Bedwawi / UAE Presidential Court
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Most young people grow up with the notion of role models. In early years, parents and teachers often fulfil that role. But as one becomes accustomed to living in a world beset with conflict and challenges, and where headlines can sum up the more destructive human instincts, role models and notions of goodness tend to recede to the margins.

Acknowledging people who exemplify goodness and contribute in positive ways to a country can inspire all citizens, not just the young, to also lead their lives in purposeful ways. That recognition is always meaningful to people who receive it and the act of bestowing it is befitting of a healthy and functioning society. The Abu Dhabi Awards are one such way that the UAE honours people who champion humanity in distinct ways.

In the UAE capital on Friday, President Sheikh Mohamed honoured eight people at the 11th Abu Dhabi Awards for their contributions to various fields in the UAE.

“The recipients of the Abu Dhabi Awards truly embody the timeless values of giving, compassion, and altruism, and through their deeds they have positively impacted UAE society in a variety of ways,” Sheikh Mohamed said.

Since the Awards were instituted in 2005, people from all walks of life have been nominated and had this honour bestowed upon them.

In 2007, for instance, as the awards gained traction, there were more than 34,000 nominations, nine of whom were ultimately given the honour. In the nearly two decades since, more than a quarter of a million people have been nominated, from as many as 135 countries.

It goes to show how much inspiring work is constantly under way in this country, work that is often being done quietly without attention sought by the people who are making significant and selfless contributions for the larger good.

Over the years, the awardees have included men and women across ages and nationalities. They have made contributions in fields as varied as conservation, genetics, Arabic poetry and nursing. These are people who have achieved distinction in important sectors such as education, health care, the environment and Emirati culture.

In 2014, the late Peter Hellyer, a long-time columnist for The National, was nominated for his contributions in the field of archaeology in the UAE. This year, one of the younger winners at the awards includes a 16-year-old working to tackle bullying and ensuring safety for minors while online. These are all issues that deserve discussion. There are other, more established voices – champions of education, for example – who have been rightfully recognised as well.

We are inspired by other people and learn from their examples, whether in peer groups or on a larger canvas. The Abu Dhabi Awards are a great example and embodiment of this. While a nation such as the UAE benefits from being led by a visionary government, it is also the contributions of ordinary people, who dedicate much of their time improving communities, that strengthen the fabric of a society, add to the welfare and make it a better country for all.

Published: April 22, 2024, 3:00 AM
Updated: April 23, 2024, 8:25 AM