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S IMPLY ABU DHABI
Abdul Muqeet Abdul Mannan (India)
During his lifetime, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, encouraged all UAE citizens to
care for each other and their surrounding environment in order to improve not only their
lives, but those of future generations. To bring about change it is vital that good practices
are taught from an early age. How refreshing then to see what a difference young
people can make. Abdul Muqeet Abdul Mannan, an Indian schoolboy who launched a
campaign to reduce plastic bag use, was the award’s youngest winner in its seven years.
At just ten years old, he has made a significant contribution to environmental issues.
Nicknamed “The Paper Bag Boy”, the inspirational young Abdul has motivated his
classmates and the wider community members inspiring them to join him in promoting
eco-friendly alternatives to using plastic bags, which are a potential threat to camels and
other wildlife.
“He has inspired his own school, his own community, and even some of this country’s leaders,”
an environment agency official said in the video message shown at the ceremony.
Despite his tender years Abdul Muqeet has impressively shown his desire to protect and
preserve the environment in Abu Dhabi and beyond. As a student at the Abu Dhabi
Indian School, young Abdul Muqeet was motivated and enthused by the 2010 “UAE
Free of Plastic Bags” campaign. Understanding that plastic bags can take hundreds of
years to biodegrade, causing untold damage to the eco-system, the imaginative youngster
set about creating carrier bags that would be much kinder to the environment. Made
from old newspapers, the bags were 100% recycled and determined Abdul then set out
to distribute them throughout the Abu Dhabi community. His strong-minded spirit
remarkably saw over 4000 paper bags created and distributed across Abu Dhabi in the
first year alone. He’s been a very busy boy since then!
With workshops at schools, companies and government entities Abdul has spread his
important environmental message teaching others to make recycled paper bags from old
newspapers. Impressed by the Abdul’s character, local grocery stores partnered up with
the talented youngster to help distribute his bags and spread the message throughout
the community. Everyone wanted to get involved in the honourable initiative with his
school and many companies in Abu Dhabi replacing their plastic bags with his paper
version. It was certainly a remarkable year for Abdul, with a whirlwind of activity and
publicity culminating in his selection in 2011 to attend the UN’s Tunza conference in
Indonesia. This gave him a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate his commitment for
a cleaner environment and promote his paper bag initiative. He has also represented
the UAE at a number of conferences in, and outside, the UAE. Abdul has taken part
in other vital environmental campaigns such as the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ campaign
organised by the Center for Waste Management – Abu Dhabi across Abu Dhabi and the
Western Region.
Abdul has a heartening awareness of environmental matters and with a love for the land
in which he lives; he has successfully orchestrated an effective initiative which began as
a simple hobby. As a result this inspirational young boy has made a real difference to the
community and natural world, so it is only fitting that his incredible efforts should be
recognised by the Abu Dhabi awards, hopefully encouraging other youngsters to follow
his exceptional example. Having supported him in his efforts, his mother, father and
older siblings are immensely proud of Abdul and it is fantastic that they were able to see
him rewarded in this way.
Dr Maha Taysir Barakat (UAE)
Individuals can shine within their chosen profession, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that
it makes them kind-hearted and considerate in themselves. In her chosen professional
field of medicine Dr Maha Taysir Barakat is not only celebrated for the health care she
provides her patients, but also her innate consideration to the general well-being of the
wider community. Dr Maha Barakat puts in extra hours, performs home visits and works
tirelessly to raise awareness about living a healthy lifestyle. As medical and research
director at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre in the capital, Dr Barakat has
contributed to the community with her acts of kindness.
Having spent her childhood in Abu Dhabi Dr Maha Barakat then finished her education
in the UK, receiving a PhD from Cambridge University in 1994 specialising in
endocrinology and diabetes. For Dr Maha, the practice of medicine isn’t simply about
treating her regular patients, but also focusing on wider public health matters and the
medical issues that affect Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a whole.
Realising that the UAE has the world’s second largest incidence of diabetes, she has
dedicated her efforts towards research into the disease in order to develop effective
treatments. Her invaluable contribution to the 2007 ‘Diabetes-Knowledge-Action’
initiative, the 2010 ‘I Eat Healthy’ campaign in cooperation with the Shaikha Salama
bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, and the ‘Walk Together’ marathon are particularly
noteworthy. With her interest in diabetes, she has devoted much time and energy
to raising awareness of the disease and ways to keep it under control. Her fantastic
educational campaigns promote the general need for a healthy lifestyle, stressing the
importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise. Her desire and determination to
establish a systemic treatment centre for diabetes paid off, resulting in the Imperial
College London Diabetes Centre in Abu Dhabi being established in 2006, making a
great difference to many people living with the effects of diabetes. The high-tech centre
is the first of its kind in the UAE and specialises in diabetes treatment, research, training
and public health. Dr. Maha shares the benefit of her knowledge and experience to
support the centre’s development, advising the staff and working to improve their
expertise.
As well as her commitment to the Centre, Dr. Maha also represents the Advisory
Council for the Middle East and North Africa in the International Federation of
Diabetes, and is a representative member on the board of the Health Authority Abu
Dhabi. Seemingly with no end to her talents, this dedicated doctor has also produced
many articles on the subject of diabetes in the UAE. Dr. Maha continues to oversee new
treatment management programs as she continues in her quest to improve the lives of
patients, focusing on everyone, including those in particular need of support. Her selfless
attitude and compassionate nature have brought about significant developments for the
greater good and, as a result of her dedication she was awarded the British OBE for her
services to medical research shared between the UK and the UAE.
The Abu Dhabi Awards have provided another opportunity to pay homage to the
remarkable achievements of Dr Maha Taysir Barakat, an impressive individual who has
certainly used her skills to make a difference. The only woman honoured the Abu Dhabi
Awards ceremony, Dr Barakat, was applauded for going far above and beyond what could
be expected in her line of work.
Congratulations Abu Dhabi
With 6,000 more than nominees than in 2010, this year’s worthy contenders represented
62 nations and the ten self-sacrificing and inspirational individuals honoured at the Abu
Dhabi Awards were specially chosen from a record-breaking 22,000 nominees. These
remarkable people have made massively significant contributions to the UAE’s growth
across areas ranging from the environment and health awareness to education and culture
and heritage. The evening was a fabulous occasion for all involved and a chance to pay
tribute to the ten winners for their commitment to demonstrating genuine values and
the exalted principles that the UAE community is renowned for.
Many other UAE nationals have shown such caring qualities , so it is only right that the
country is boosted by the recognition of the ordinary, yet outstanding individuals. It
was fantastic to see all these incredible individuals gathered together under one roof to
celebrate their marvellous and very noble humanitarian values. An inspiration to us all,
they deserve to be thanked for the time and commitment they have given for the benefit
of the country and the Abu Dhabi Award Ceremony has once again reinforced how
respected and appreciated such personalities are. Congratulations to all this year’s Abu
Dhabi award recipients. Every one of you is a worthy winner of this prestigious accolade.