Fifth Abu Dhabi Awards Ceremony Honours Abu Dhabi’s Unsung Heroes

15 Feb, 2010

In a celebration held at Emirates Palace last night, nine extraordinary individuals were recognised for their generous and worthwhile deeds at the fifth Abu Dhabi Awards ceremony. His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Council personally presented the Awards and congratulated each recipient.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan underscored the commitment of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi to the Abu Dhabi Awards and expressed gratitude that the program continues to preserve the legacy of the nation’s father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed indicated that the UAE is abundant with great men and women who are keen on putting their full potential in the service of their country and for its prosperity and progress; and who would rather be faceless and work humbly and silently. Sheikh Mohammed also stated that the UAE, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, highly appreciates every effort made by those men and women who contributed to making the UAE achieve, grow and prosper.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed concluded his statement by congratulating the awards recipients and wishing them all success in their endeavours to serve the country. ‘It is comforting that the awards recipients represent full cross-section of the Abu Dhabi community’, His Highness said calling on the youth to follow suit as ‘we seek comprehensive development that requires the contribution of every citizen so as to underpin the country’s position and its pioneering role in the region and the world at large’.

This year’s Awards recognised a range of different projects and initiatives that have contributed immeasurably to the community spirit of Abu Dhabi. From pioneering formal education in Al Ain, and promoting environmental awareness through education in Al Gharbia to volunteering to raise much needed financial support, and inspiring people through poetry – the recipients of the Abu Dhabi Awards reflect the full cross-section of the Abu Dhabi community.

The ceremony was attended by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region; HH Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Chairman of the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs; H.H Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Etihad Airways; HH Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council; HE Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade; HE Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Labour; HE Mariam Mohammed Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs; HE Dr. Hadif Al Dhahiri, Minister of Justice; H.E. Dr. Maitha Salem Al-Shamsi, Minister of State; H. E. Mohammed Ahmed Al-Bawardi, the Secretary General to the Executive Council; H.E. Dr. Ahmed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Deputy Secretary General to the Executive Council; H.E. Khaldoun Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority; HE Nasser Ahmed Al Suwaidi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development; Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Under Secretary of the Crown Prince's Court; and a number of ambassadors accredited to the UAE.

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Award recipients were announced as:

1. His Excellency Mohammed Habroosh Mohammed Al Suwaidi, United Arab Emirates

His Excellency Mohammed Habroosh Al Suwaidi has been a central figure in the establishment of many key public projects of Abu Dhabi. In 1969, Mr Al Suwaidi was appointed Vice Chairman of the Amiri Diwan. He was then appointed Chairman of the Department of Finance in 1970, where he led work to develop the administrative and financial systems of the Emirates with a focus on transparency and the protection of public finances. In 1971 it was Mr Al Suwaidi who took the honour of registering the United Arab Emirates with the Arab League in Cairo. During his career, he contributed to the founding of the Abu Dhabi National Drilling Company and the Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company, and has chaired the Board of Directors of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. In 1971, he was appointed Minister of State for Finance and Industry and went on to assist in the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), which today has grown into a premier global institutional investor. Throughout his career, Mr Al Suwaidi has been committed to Emiratisation, ensuring a consistent policy across the national institutions of state. His commitment and hard work were recognised by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, who appointed him to the position of Special Advisor. He continues in his role as a member of the Supreme Council for Petroleum and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

2. Isabella Poonoosamy, Republic of Mauritius

Raised in a family where philanthropy and volunteering were central features, Isabella left her home country of Mauritius to study at the University Dauphine in Paris, France, where she graduated in Economics and studied for a Master’s degree in the Philosophy of Economics. In 1999, Isabella’s strong affection for charitable work led her to Bangladesh. Volunteering with banks established to help the poor, Isabella helped to establish a project offering ‘soft loans’ to the needy. In that same year, she collaborated with people in her native Mauritius to set up a centre for people with special needs. Upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates with her family in 2005, Isabella began to volunteer full-time at the Special Care Centre in Abu Dhabi, a centre for children with special needs. Touched by her experiences, she established the “Good Heart Foundation” to raise funds for the Centre. Additionally, the non-profit organisation “Nahtam” was founded by Isabella to provide support a variety of local organisations in their humanitarian fund raising campaigns. Isabella was also a principal organiser in the “Donate A Brick” campaign, which collects donations to build a modern and fully equipped school for children with special needs in Abu Dhabi. Once complete, the school will be the largest of its kind in the Emirate, accommodating 300 students across more than 22,000 square metres. To date, the campaign has raised more than eight million Dirhams. Isabella’s work however, has not come to an end. She continues to contribute to future projects, including collaborating with international charities to develop awareness campaigns that will enable successful integration of people with special needs into the community.

3. Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi, United Arab Emirates

Poet Ousha bint Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi was born into a household that loved literature. As a youngster she had the opportunity to meet many poets and listen to their poetry. Ousha recited poetry by the age of 15 and quickly received recognition for her abilities within the poetry community; a huge achievement considering that poetry was primarily male dominated at that time. Writing many poems in a short space of time, Ousha gained the nickname “Gulf Laureate Poet”. Keen to develop her talents, Ousha read classical poetry by Al Mutannabi, Abu Tammam and Al Ma’ari, alongside the work of local poets, including Al Majidi bin Thahir, Rashid Al Khalawi, Saleem bin Abdul Hai and Mohsin Hazzani. An inspiration to the women’s poetry movement in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, with Ousha’s encouragement, the poetic voice of women became strong and essential to the cultural scene across the Emirates. The Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan recognized her role in highlighting the local vocabulary and identity of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE through her work. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai named Ousha the “Arab Laureate Poetess” following her participation in a series of poetry recitals with him. Many of her poems have become the basis of song lyrics sung by local artists. Through the songs, her words made a further contribution, highlighting the role of the feminine literary movement in local cultural projects. Her poetry has covered a variety of themes including love, wisdom, nostalgia, praise and patriotic feelings. Her poems are written in Classical Arabic, the most important of which was written in praise of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. Her vocabulary and style draws heavily on the environment in which she has lived, portraying intimate pictures of the local environment – land and sea, past and present – in the UAE.

4. The late Hamouda bin Ali bin Ghanim bin Hamouda, United Arab Emirates

Born in 1940, Hamouda bin Ali bin Ghamin bin Hamouda dedicated his life to the service of his country. In 1958, at the age of 18 he joined the Abu Dhabi Police Force. Studying at the Police College in Kuwait, he graduated in 1961 with the rank of Second Lieutenant and returned to Abu Dhabi where he worked as a criminal investigator. Committed to his work, Mr. Bin Hamouda became Assistant Chief of Police and later Deputy Chief of Police and Security in 1969, followed by his appointment as Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior in the Government of Abu Dhabi in 1971. In 1972 he was appointed Minister of State for Internal Affairs in the Federal Government. In 1990, Mr. Bin Hamouda was appointed Interior Minister, a post he held until 1992. Throughout his career, Mr. Bin Hamouda participated in high-level ministerial committees and represented the Emirate at a number of regional and international conferences. He chaired the sixth meeting of the Interior Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council and was awarded the Order of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in recognition of his efforts to unify the security policies of the GCC countries.Appointed by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as his Advisor, a position he held until his death in 2001, he was also presented with a the Medal of Dedicated Service in honour of his life-long commitment to his country. Throughout his career, Mr. Bin Hamouda combined his practical experience with academic knowledge in order to achieve the State’s vision of peace and security for all residents and citizens. His leadership within the Police Force and in the Ministry of Interior has left a lasting legacy of modernisation of working practices.

5. Manal Mahmoud Hamad, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

An advocate of environmental protection and awareness, Manal Mahmoud Hamad is a coordinator of the Sustainable Schools Initiative and a science teacher at Al Kahmael Model School in Madinat Zayed in Al Gharbia. After graduating from Kuwait University with an undergraduate degree in Microbiology and Zoology and working as a teacher, Manal studied at the Amman Arab University for Graduate Studies, where she completed a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. As a teacher, Manal adopted methods of applied learning, in particular, organizing annual school projects focusing on environmental issues. Over time, these projects have helped to seed positive environmental behaviour in students of all ages, by combining classroom and extra-curricular activities. Issues that Manal has raised awareness for include pollution, global warming and desertification and their impacts on daily life. As a teacher, Manal is committed to developing students with initiative, who have problem solving capabilities - encouraging them to expand their ability to think outside of the box and find practical solutions to evolving issues. Over the last decade, Manal’s work and dedication have been recognized with a number of awards from both the education and environmental fields. She was presented with the Distinguished Environmental Teacher Award, the Hamdan bin Rashid Award for Teaching Excellence and the Sharjah Award for Voluntary Work in the environmental field.

6. Dr. Abdul Rahman Hassanein Makhlouf, United Arab Emirates

The name Dr. Abdul Rahman Hassanein Makhlouf has always been linked to the city of Abu Dhabi’s masterplan. Upon completion of his doctoral studies in Germany, Dr Makhlouf returned to the Arab World where he worked with the United Nations in the development of urban planning. In 1959, he was able to draw on his studies of the restoration and renovation of historical buildings, when he was involved in the development plans for the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Between 1964 and 1968, Dr Makhlouf joined the faculty at Cairo University, where his work came to the attention of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Sheikh Zayed invited Dr Makhlouf to Abu Dhabi to participate in the founding of the Department of City Planning for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. He managed the Department until 1976 and was directly responsible for the planning of Abu Dhabi city centre, taking the time to train many of the departments’ workers and engineers in the process. Lecturing at universities across the region on the realities and mechanisms involved in Arab World urban planning, Dr Makhlouf conducted a number of studies into the future development of the city of Abu Dhabi. Between 1983 and 1985 Dr Makhlouf moved to UAE University as a lecturer in urban planning in the university’s Department of Architecture. Dr Makhlouf currently works in the Arab Office for Planning and Architecture and still devotes time to keeping in touch with his many former students, in addition to working on his book “Trip of a Lifetime”, which details his life experiences. Dr Makhlouf was involved in a number of high profile projects including the surroundings of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the courthouse in the city of Abu Dhabi and the old central market in the city of Al Ain, in addition to numerous other mosques and schools across the Emirate.

7. Saleh Al Ya’rabi, Sultanate, Oman

Saleh Al Ya’rabi came to Abu Dhabi from Oman in 1978. Confined to a wheelchair following an unfortunate accident at the age of 18 that left him paralysed, Saleh dedicated his life to serving the community and helping others. After finishing high school and financing his university studies - graduating with honours, Saleh worked for the national newspapers Al Ittihad and Al Khaleej writing articles and reports that emphasised his life experiences. Saleh eventually began to write a series of books through which he hoped to inspire readers to revive hope and open their eyes to overcoming challenges and difficulties. His works include: “Disability: NO, Determination: YES” (1999), “Reflections” (2000), “Outpouring of Emotions” (2002), “My Journey With Patience” (2004) and “Sunrise, a New Start” (2006). Saleh delivered his inspirational messages in lectures at renowned institutions including UAE University and the Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi. Touring schools across the Emirate, Saleh talks to students about his experiences and motivates them to build their knowledge and strive to achieve their ambitions. Helping the elderly and encouraging people with special needs to believe in their abilities and ambitions, Saleh continues to volunteer and work with organisations and charities including the UAE Red Crescent.

8.  Latife Yunus Tabrizi, Republic of Turkey

Already committed to helping others, Latife Yunus Tabrizi moved to the city of Al Ain from Turkey in 1970. After exploring many ways of working to help others, Latife began working with the disabled on a voluntary basis - working full time and free of charge at the Centre for Rehabilitation for the Disabled in Al Ain. Over time Latife began to train Centre employees in a range of handicrafts, using recycled materials for the creations. She worked to establish a volunteer programme that enabled the disabled to integrate fully into the community. Her work not only raises community awareness about the disabled but has also builds the confidence of the disabled people she worked with. In particular, she used her creative craft skills to train groups of disabled people, and educate them on the importance of environmental awareness through recycled handicrafts. Through Latife’s work, the disabled community act as ambassadors for environmental awareness and recycling in Al Ain. Latife’s work has also benefitted many schools in the Al Ain area, where she has lent her skills to a range of educational programmes and activities. Today, Latife continues to act as a source of inspiration for many of the voluntary initiatives and environmental awareness schemes across the Emirates.

9.  The late Mohammed bin Rashid Al Tamimi, United Arab Emirates

The late Mohammed bin Rashid Al Tamimi spent much of his early life travelling in pursuit of his own education. He studied primary school in Bahrain, secondary school in Jordan and finally in Saudi Arabia, he pursued his undergraduate studies at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. Upon graduation he worked in the Saudi Arabian city of Dhahran. In 1953 he joined the Saudi Arabian Department of Education, who sent him to California, USA, to further develop his English-language skills. His life was to change course following an invitation from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to teach the children of Al Ain. Being the only teacher in Al Ain, he founded the first ‘formal” school in the city in 1955, where the roll call rose quickly to 40 students, to whom he taught the principles of mathematics, Arabic language and the Holy Quran. He also laid the foundations for the formation of a Scouts organisation at the school. Mr. Al Tamimi oversaw the education of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and many other notable figures including His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President’s Representative, and His Excellency Sheikh Suroor bin Mohammed. Invited to work in the Diwan of His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, he rose to become Secretary of the Private Department of His Highness the Ruler and His Highness the Crown Prince. Retirement did not stop Mr. Al Tamimi from continuing to promote the value of education and in 1997 he was awarded the Sheikh Khalifa Award for Education. Known for his modesty and love of teaching, Mr. Al Tamimi continued to offer support and guidance to all those who contacted him until his death in 2009.

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