Page 40 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine V

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Alain Saint-Hilaire (Canada)
Paris born Alain Saint-Hilaire first visited the UAE in 1969, sparking a very special
lasting bond with Abu Dhabi. With its rich history, Alain was immediately captivated
and with his passion for visual history his collection of photography and films beautifully
captured and documented the visual history of the Emirate. Since then he has donated
over 2,000 stunning still images – half of which portrayed Abu Dhabi – to a many
fortunate UAE recipients.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he visited Abu Dhabi almost every year to capture the
historical development of the emirate on film before sharing his invaluable work and love
for the country touring the world showcasing his photography and giving lectures and
film screenings. His remarkable insight has served to educate audiences about the UAE
and other countries he has visited. He produced two films about the UAE titled ‘United
Emirates Gulf ’ and ‘Masterpieces of Arab Kingdoms’. He is currently working on a
film depicting the UAE’s development over the last 50 years, focusing on the dramatic
changes that have taken place. His video footage, portraying momentous historical
developments of a burgeoning Emirate has also been generously donated.
Throughout his career, Alain’s lifelong devotion and loyalty for the UAE has been
magnificently captured through the people and scenes that his lens has recorded. His
historically significant collection of photography and film captures the progress of the
Emirate over more than 40 years. Having effectively documented the remarkable history
of Abu Dhabi, it is great that he receive the fine accolade of recognition at the Abu
Dhabi awards.
Aqeeda Ali Al Muhairi (UAE)
No one should under-estimate the healing properties of and indeed comfort drawn
from traditional medicine. Aquida Al Muhairi, a 91-year-old Emirati who practises and
teaches traditional medicine techniques, was the oldest award winner to be celebrated
at the ceremony. Born in Al Ain in approximately 1920, Aqeeda Ali Al Muhairi is
living testament of the power of such medical practice. Aged 20 he settled on pursuing
the practice of traditional medicine after having tried his hand at pearl diving and
agriculture. Today, many of us take the provision of healthcare very much for granted
but it was a different story when a lack of hospitals and basic healthcare meant even the
most straightforward ailments had serious ramifications.
Aqeeda is just one of many noteworthy individuals who recognised the supreme
importance of providing traditional folk medicine and his contributions to the
field deserve high praise. Having learned the art of traditional medicine from his
grandmother, he has dedicated the last 70 years to healing people. In keeping with the
teachings of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, his services were always provided free
of charge and he would only accept donation from those he knew were in a position
to afford them. During his time learning his art, Aqeeda developed an in-depth
knowledge of the most effective treatments for more than 50 different diseases, and he
has cared for thousands of patients in place of hospital care. Well informed in areas
such as the sciences, culture and society Aqeeda is also extensively regarded for his
principal knowledge of the familial and tribal roots of the Emirates and the geography
of the land of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai. Entrusted by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin
Sultan Al Nahyan, Aqeeda also devoted a great deal of time and energy to support the
discovery and maintenance of the local Falajs, securing a source of reliable safe water for
communities and for irrigation in Al Ain.
Today, at grand age of 91, his devotion to healthcare provision remains unswerving as
he continues to treat patients. He has shared the wealth of his own experience with
researchers and doctors of mainstream modern medicine, including his own grandson,
Essa, who called on his grandfather’s invaluable advice when treating his own patients.
It is fitting that his contribution to both traditional medicine and the well-being of the
nation be given such recognition at the Abu Dhabi awards.
Salem Rashed Al Mohanadi (UAE)
Charity, it is said, begins at home, but sometimes the practice of giving to worthy causes
becomes a little impersonal, with individuals simply handing over donations without
taking the time to find out more about the issues involved. Putting a personal stamp
on his invaluable charity work, Salem Rashed Al Mohanadi’s own happiness lies in his
innate aptitude for making everyone he meets smile! Salem is truly one of life’s good
guys, constantly striving to help the less fortunate without seeking any sort of recognition
or recompense. Having finished his education in the late 1970 in the USA, Salem
returned to Abu Dhabi to a role in the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, focusing on
preparing Emirati leaders of the future through work and scholarships.
Alongside his job investing in future leaders, Salem strives tirelessly to help others. Every
single beneficiary of Salem’s benevolence is treated with the utmost respect as Salem has
a deep-seated belief that we are all equals regardless of circumstances. So it is then that
with private dignity, he opens the doors of his Majlis to offer precious support to people
struggling to with demanding financial responsibilities. His priceless financial support
has often completely eradicated debts, but it is not simply with money that Salem makes
a difference. Through the provision of time and a commitment to giving up his personal
time, a busy Salem is constantly on the lookout for ways to help those in need.
His exceptional community work includes him making regular hospital visits to the
sick and needy. He also campaigns to support charities both within the UAE and
internationally. Never asking for gratitude for his efforts, it is particularly heartening to
see this selfless individual receive some recognition at the Abu Dhabi Awards.
Al Shaikh Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz bin Hamad Al Mubarak (UAE)
Despite no longer being with us, the hugely significant advances made in the Shariah
judicial system thanks to Al Shaikh Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz bin Hamad Al Mubarak
simply had to be celebrated by the Abu Dhabi Awards. Born into a family of religious
and judicial scholars the late Shaikh Ahmed grew up to be extremely influential in the
formation of Abu Dhabi’s judicial system. Shaikh Ahmed became a highly regarded
and well-respected judge in the region as he followed the teachings of his father, a well-
known judicial scholar and confident of Shaikh Zayed Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, known
as Zayed the First. This remarkably driven man managed to combine his outstanding
judiciary career with teaching. 1969 saw his impressive appointment by the late Shaikh
Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to the notable position of Chairman of the Shari’a Judicial
Department in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
It was within this high profile role that he proved to be a key player in the development
of the Shari’a court system in the Emirate. He also helped manage the construction of
the court complex. Following the establishment of the UAE Union, Shaikh Ahmed
was appointed Shari’a advisor to the State, contributing to the development of Islamic
and Shari’a sciences in the country. Shaikh Ahmed has been instrumental in raising
awareness and improving cultural standards. His education has stood him in good stead
to give sermons and television broadcasts that have informed a nation and his writings in
many books on Islamic and the judicial sciences remain an important part of his legacy
to this day.
His work continued up until his death in 1988 as he significantly represented the UAE
on many occasions, notably at international conferences on the dialogue between
religions. As a valued member of many global organisations he carried out vital research
linked to Islamic civilization. During his wonderful lifetime Al Shaikh Ahmed bin
Abdul Aziz bin Hamad Al Mubarak made such a huge contribution to the judicial
system reflecting the true spirit of Islam that the Abu Dhabi Awards felt it right to
celebrate the positive example set by a remarkable individual who devoted his life to
peace and tolerance.