ABU DHABI, 8th November 2016 (WAM) – Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Chairman of Emirates Foundation, the annual Emirates Foundation Recognition Event was held today in Abu Dhabi at Jumeriah Etihad Towers.

Outstanding Emirati youth were honoured for their contributions in volunteerism, entrepreneurship and innovation and to the advancement of socio-economic development in the UAE.

The event was held in the presence of Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Managing Director of Emirates Foundation, Dr. Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, and attended by senior officials representing donor organizations alongside strategic partners and social philanthropy experts.

Members of the media and academic communities as well as programme mentors were also recognized during the event for their instrumental role, guidance and support of the Foundation’s mission to deliver impactful philanthropy.

In his speech, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah recognized Emirati youth who have dedicated their time to create a positive impact in communities across the UAE, including the Northern Emirates.

“Tonight marks a special occasion for Emirates Foundation, where we honor young men and women, who have demonstrated creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in service to their country as well as those who devoted their lives to serve and protect our country.”

Youth were recognized in a variety of sectors, from social enterprise to science, technology and innovation and through to financial literacy, volunteerism and community service, which cover the main focus areas for the Foundation.

Addressing the youth, His Highness said: “The UAE is a young nation, this is why our future depends on you and your ability to rise to the challenge and grab the opportunity to play an active role in shaping the future of our nation. Emirates Foundation programmes are here today to support you unleash your potential and achieve your aspirations and therefore the responsibly lie on you to maximize them better serve your nation.”

His Highness also recognized the importance of creating an eco-system to achieve significant and sustainable results- “Tonight we also honor our long-standing partners who have been with us since the start of our journey over ten years ago. We look forward to their continued partnership to increase our impact together and create a future we can all be proud of. Emirates Foundation is considered to be a pioneering organization when it comes to venture philanthropy both locally and regionally carrying the philanthropic legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan for sustainable impact. Thanks to the joint efforts of youth and partners working together, Emirates Foundation was able to deliver social impact at scale and create real change to support the development agenda of our nation.”

His Highness concluded “Finally, I would like to thank all our loyal partners and call upon and urge them to continue their support for us as we can continue to create maximum impact for youth. As for our esteemed youth, I congratulate each and everyone of you, you are our pride and we have full faith in your continuous loyalty to the growth and prosperity of our nation”

During the ceremony, His Highness also honoured the winners from the ‘Universities Social Volunteerism Competition’ an initiative launched by Emirates Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research with the objective of spreading the culture of volunteerism amongst University students and encouraging additional volunteerism initiatives within the local communities.

As part of its efforts to recognize the achievers, Emirates Foundation has developed a set of qualitative and quantitative criteria based on which outstanding achievers were selected. These included elements such as number of training and volunteering hours, youth outreach and recruitment, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial skills demonstrated.

Maytha Al Habsi, Deputy CEO of Emirates Foundation said: “During the past year, we have worked towards the achievement of our leaderships’ vision through the expansion of our reach and extension of all our programmes across the Emirates.”

Al Habsi further commended the ‘Universities Social Volunteerism Competition’ and the opportunity it offers for youth to make a real difference within their communities and their lives saying: “At Emirates Foundation, we believe in the highest potential of our youth and their sense of social responsibility and therefore invest in building our nation’s social capital through volunteer work.”

Al Habsi further stressed the important role play by the media in spreading the message of Emirates Foundation. “Our media partners today have been instrumental in the success of our programmes and their contributions carry a deep message aligned with the vision of our leadership towards the advancements of our nation.

Seven Sanid achievers were honoured for their dedication and commitment to serve and protect, seven, Takatof achievers were honored for their exemplary volunteerism and unconditional giving to their communities and beyond, eight Kafa’at achievers were honored for their pioneering and entrepreneurial drive, two Think Science achiever were honored for their creative and innovative pioneering projects, and five Esref Sah achievers whose main purpose is to address financial literacy in the nation. Finally, and as part of the incentives programme developed by Emirates Foundation, the most outstanding achiever was awarded for outstanding commitment and dedication to Youth Development in the UAE and as a role model for other youth to follow in that direction.

As a tribute to the Outstanding Emirati Youth, Etihad Airways generously offered to the most outstanding achiever a gold membership valid for one year along with extra bonus miles. As for the remaining achievers, Etihad airways offered a silver membership valid for one year along with extra bonus miles.