Abu Dhabi Awards: last chance to nominate UAE's unsung heroes

These recognise often unheralded contributions from those committed to improving society

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - April 07, 2021: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (R), presents an Abu Dhabi Award to Dr Fatima Al Refaei (L), during an awards ceremony, at Qasr Al Hosn.

( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs )
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Nominations for the Abu Dhabi Awards scheme — that recognises people who make an important contribution to society but often go unnoticed — close in a few days.

Entries for the awards, which are given every two years, must be received by October 10.

This highest honour awarded to members of the public recognises people who show commitment, selflessness and inspire others, said officials.

Since 2005, the jury has received more than 250,000 nominations from people of 135 nationalities. Of these, 92 people from 16 nationalities have received the award.

In previous years, recipients have been honoured for their contributions to fields including health care, education, the environment and preserving the UAE's heritage.

Last year, while Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, President Sheikh Mohamed honoured 12 people at a ceremony held at Qasr Al Hosn.

The awards were established by the late Sheikh Khalifa to honour UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Their tagline this year is: ‘Who represents goodness to you?’

The awards recognise contributions from anyone committed to improving UAE society — regardless of age, gender, nationality and place of residence.

Nominations can be submitted on the Abu Dhabi Awards website www.abudhabiawards.ae.

Previous winners

A vet who runs a falcon hospital in Abu Dhabi

Dr Margit Muller, the executive director of Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, received the award in 2008 for saving thousands of falcons.

She has a doctorate in falcon medicine and has been living in Abu Dhabi since 2001, where she manages the world’s largest falcon hospital with 130 employees from 16 countries.

When she first arrived, the Emiratis did not want her to touch their falcons, she told The National.

But over the years she has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of falcons and people from all over the country come to her for help.

With more than 25 years' experience, she has made her mark as a falcon medicine specialist.

"I gradually gained their trust. It was such an honour to be recognised and also very humbling," she said.

"The memory of receiving the award is etched in my memory. It also marked the beginning of my journey. I want to give back more. It was so motivating."

ABU DHABI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - 05SEPT2013 -  Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller of Falcon hospital treats a falcon on the second day of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrain Exhibition 2013 yesterday at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Ravindranath K / The National (to go with Hareth article) August 16, 2014-  Khawla bint Al Azwar Military School confirms its readiness to receive and train Emirati girls seeking to perform national service. WAM *** Local Caption ***  RK0509-ADIHEXDAY19.jpg

Recently, she treated a falcon after it was hit by a car.

The falcon was covered in tar and had a crushed skull and wings. She would have died if not for Dr Muller’s quick decision to move the bird to surgery.

Miraculously, after three months and seven operations, the falcon was able to fly and hunt again.

"This was a case that I could never forget but, thankfully, after the bird survived," she said.

Dr Muller said she has always had a fascination for birds, particularly falcons.

"They are majestic birds. They are extremely unique and strong," she said.

A sports star helping people with disabilities

Theban Salem Al Mheiri received the award in 2018 for championing the rights of people with disabilities.

Mr Al Mheiri suffered a spine injury in a car accident in 1994 that changed the course of his life.

“I never imagined that I would one day be a person of determination,” he said.

The father of one was travelling to the airport at the time to study abroad.

“You can say that the direction of my life changed at that moment,” he told The National.

“And today, I can’t imagine a better life than one where I am supporting people of determination and making a difference in their lives.”

Mr Al Mheiri is one of the first Emiratis to take part in sports for people with disabilities.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -  March 12, 2018: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (L), presents an Abu Dhabi Award to Theban Salem Al Mheiri (R), during the awards ceremony at the Sea Palace. Seen with Dhabia Thaiban AlMheiri (C).

( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi )

He works as an administrator with the Abu Dhabi Police and as secretary of the UAE Paralympic Committee. He is also associated with the Al Ain Club for People of Determination.

“Sport is my life,” he said.

In 2010 he retired from playing internationally but remains active in the UAE.

“I know I have made my country and my family proud," he said.

"When my 10-year-old daughter’s friends ask her why her father is in a wheelchair, she always says proudly that yes, my father is in a wheelchair but he is also an award-winning athlete who is able to do everything and anything like their fathers and sometimes even better. The only thing we [people of determination] lack, is self-confidence."

Abu Dhabi Awards 2021 - in pictures

Updated: October 06, 2022, 6:38 AM