Event Reports

Claiming social responsibility: KAS-partner Tawasul bestows awards for civil society engagement

by Gidon Windecker

120,000 online voters have selected their favorite candidates

It was the third annual ceremony of the Civil Society Leaders Awards that brought together renowned figures of the public, the private and the civil society sectors. The event took place on November 14 at the Diplomatic Club in Muscat. The awards honor extraordinary individuals, organizations and projects in the region. They are granted for strong commitment to civil society and outstanding contribution to sustainable social and economic development. For the first time, organizations from all states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were invited to participate.

The ceremony took place under the auspices of H.H. Sayyid Loay bin Ghalib Al Said. Among the high-ranking visitors were international figures such as the German and American Consuls and the Dutch and Kuwaiti Ambassadors. The event was organized by the renowned, independent Omani Think Tank Tawasul, in cooperation with the KAS-Regional Program Gulf-States.

Twenty-four organizations and individuals from all GCC-States were among the final candidates. The winners were Injaz, an organization that supports business ideas of young people (Oman, best social investment initiative, private sector), the Association of Early Intervention for Children with Disability (Oman, best charity organization) and Tamkeen for Development, an initiative for the development of women and children (Yemen and Kuwait, best independent social initiative). An award was also handed to the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (UAE, best CSO) and to Amal Al Manai, CEO of the Social Development Center (Qatar), as the female leader of the year in the third sector. Moreover, Sheikha Fatima bint Zayed Al Nahyan (UAE) was recognized for her civil society engagement, as well as Brand Oman Management Unit, Mohammed ibn Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (UAE), Al Rahma Team (Oman), Al Roya Newspaper (Oman) and the Society of Majid bin Abdulaziz for Development and Social Services (KSA).

120,000 people had voted online for their favorite candidates. These votes determined 40 per cent of the results. The decision of an international jury of renowned figures from the three sectors determined the remaining 60 per cent.

In her welcome speech, Tawasul’s Chief Operations Officer, Nasra Al Adawi, emphasized the commitment which her organization has taken for the support of CSOs since its inception in 2009. Civil society in the Gulf States should become more active and assume its responsibility for the development of the region. Only through a joint effort could national goals be reached. The task of the CSOs, she explained, was to support the public and private sectors in their visions and to participate in the process of development in a constructive manner.

The ceremony was opened with a „Dialogue on Best Practices of Cooperation between the Private, Public and Third Sector”. Dr. Saif Al Hajri, Vice Chairman of the Qatar Foundation, pointed out the necessity to encourage young people to engage in volunteer work and to become more active in social concerns. Moreover, children with disabilities should be better integrated in the communities and their potential should be realized. Afra Al Basti, CEO of Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, added that the awareness for social engagement should become an integral part of people’s way of thinking. Further, the Gulf States should develop mechanisms and networking tools, in order to exchange ideas and best practices. Sultan Saoud Al Qassemi, a renowned columnist and blogger from the UAE, confirmed that social media and networking could play an even more dominant role, in order to bridge lacking communication in third sector initiatives. He emphasized that a stronger engagement of civil society was key for a constructive development.

Tawasul is an independent Think Tank and engaged partner of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Oman. Joint events in 2011 included the “First GCC Think Tank Dialogue” in Salalah and a training program for young female parliamentary candidates.

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