Nominations open for $1 million Zayed Award previously won by Pope Francis

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A top-level interreligious group opened nominations this week for a $1 million award named after the founder of the UAE and previously awarded to Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmad al Tayeb.

The 2021 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity, named after the late ruler and founder of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, recognizes “profound contributions to human advancement and the facilitation of peaceful coexistence,” according to a statement.

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The global call for nominations is under the supervision of top-level interreligious group, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF).

On Friday, the judging committee met at the Vatican with Pope Francis, who “called on members to identify individuals who can continue their humanitarian efforts after winning the award, highlighting its purpose is to both celebrate the recipients’ achievements but also motivate them to continue to serve humanity,” according to a HCHR statement.

“I have shared bread with my brother, the Grand Imam Al-Tayeb, and I want you to help humankind, with the Committee, to share bread. I will pray for you, and I hope you that you will pray for me,” said Pope Francis, according to the statement.

HCHF is an independent committee spearheaded by the UAE to carry on the legacy of last year’s Document on Human Fraternity, which called for all people to put aside differences and rediscover values that support peace, and reflects on the role of religions in furthering that effort.

The declaration was signed last year by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi during the first ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula.

Pope Francis greets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Feb. 4, 2019.  (AP)
Pope Francis greets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Feb. 4, 2019. (AP)

At the time the two spiritual leaders received the first ever Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.

Now nominations are open for the first time and can be made by members of government, former heads of state, Supreme Court judges, UN leaders, leading academic and cultural figures, HCHF members, and international non-governmental organization (NGO) heads.

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The HCHR judging committee “will consider people or entities anywhere in the world who are leading by example by collaborating selflessly and tirelessly, across divides, to deliver real and positive change,” said Adama Dieng, former UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide and member of the HCHR committee, in a statement.

HCHR Secretary-General Judge Mohamed Abdulsalam said the award is named after the late Sheikh Zayed “whose journey embodied the values of co-operation and peaceful co-existence.”

The nomination process will close on December 1, 2020 with the winner or winners announced on February 4, 2021.

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