ABU DHABI // A record 117 nationalities made 29,600 nominations for this year's Abu Dhabi Awards, which celebrate the charitable actions of our unsung heroes.
Organisers said Emiratis and expatriates from the Middle East, Europe and North America, along with places as far flung as Eritrea, Vietnam and the Falkland Islands, had participated in the awards.
"Abu Dhabi is a truly multicultural society and we were determined to reach out to as many communities as possible through Abu Dhabi Awards 2013," said a member of the organising committee.
"It is very pleasing to see so many different nationalities taking part and it has brought a fresh and exciting feel to the nominations we received this year."
Established in 2005, the awards celebrate individuals or organisations that have volunteered time, whether at home or abroad, to build and support the community in Abu Dhabi.
Encouraging nominations from women was a major factor during this year's campaign, and about 6,500 were received - more than double the number in 2011.
Entries were put forward from all corners of the emirate, after an effort was made this year to involve a wider geographical spread.
The Western Region's participation rose by 150 per cent, while younger people also got involved to help boost the nomination figures.
The younger generation represented a 12 per cent share of the total number of nominations, a 10 per cent increase on 2011.
"In the past, a significant number of the older generations made nominations for Abu Dhabi Awards and the youth of Abu Dhabi were not as involved as they could be," the spokeswoman from the organising committee said.
"But we are seeing thousands of young people really taking the time to make a thoughtful nomination about someone they admire and who has done something good for society."
She said the role of social media in this year's campaign had also contributed to the high number of entries.
Nominations closed on May 31, six weeks after they began on April 21, and organisers now face the daunting task of whittling down the candidates to determine who best deserves to be honoured with the emirate's highest accolade.
A judging committee made up of government officials will select the winners, who will be chosen based on their contributions to society and not on the number of votes they received.
The winners' ceremony will take place in December.
For the latest on the Abu Dhabi Awards, visit abudhabiawards.ae.