UAE students honoured with Diana Award for compassionate charity work

Outstanding and inspirational environmental activities, philanthropy lead two young students to the prestigious achievement


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Ananya Manikandan. - Supplied photo
Ananya Manikandan. - Supplied photo

Published: Sat 1 Jul 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jul 2023, 4:24 PM

Sharjah-based 12-year-old student Ananya Manikandan has received multiple awards for her social and environmental work. But she says the latest award is very special to her. She is the recipient of the Princess Diana Award for outstanding young hero in the UAE. “This is a special feat and award of the highest order for me,” said the young social worker.

Studying at DPS Sharjah, Ananya has made a significant impact through her social and environmental work. “She has been nominated for her outstanding cleanup drive and environmental campaign. With a passion for preserving the environment, she has organised numerous cleanup drives, including beach cleanups in Dubai, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman,” said Manikandan, Ananya’s father.

Ananya constantly raises awareness on critical issues like plastic pollution, bullying in schools, refugees, and more through compelling short films and dramas created by herself. Many of her films were showcased at the Zabeel Ladies Club, captivating an audience of 400 individuals, and Oscar Theatre in Sharjah.

In addition to her environmental pursuits, Ananya actively contributes as a member of the Water Alliance Association UAE and Emirates Environmental Group. “She is spearheading a neighbourhood recycling campaign. The Emirates Environmental Group has been awarding her consistently, ranking among the top 10 recyclers in the UAE,” said Manikandan.

Her commitment to recycling extends beyond plastics and clothes, as she campaigns and distributes flyers to every household while also delivering impactful PowerPoint presentations on the importance of clothes reuse. “Ananya collects clothes from people and donates them to charitable trusts, fostering a culture of sustainability,” said Manikandan.

Aalia Rumana, a 15-year-old student, has also been awarded for her social action or humanitarian efforts.

Aalia Rumana. - Supplied photo
Aalia Rumana. - Supplied photo

Aalia has captured the hearts of many with her outstanding dedication to philanthropy and academic achievements. Personal experiences ignited her passion for helping others within their own family, where they witnessed the challenges faced by cancer patients.

Determined to make a difference, Aalia embarked on a mission to raise awareness and extend support to those affected by breast cancer, orphans, individuals with disabilities, and underprivileged students.


"Aalia has been appointed as a brand ambassador of the organisation 'Protect Your Mom'. She has taken charge of organising impactful campaigns, fundraising, rallying the community to contribute to the noble cause of supporting cancer patients and spreading awareness about breast cancer,” said Beema Siraj, Alia’s mother.

“Her efforts have motivated others to get involved,” she added.

Diana Awards

Established in memory of Diana, former Princess of Wales, the award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Sussex.

Tessy Ojo CBE, CEO of The Diana Award, said: “We warmly congratulate our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and worldwide who are changemakers for their generation. They demonstrate that young people have the power to change the world, a belief also held by Diana. We know by receiving this honour, they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their change making journey.”

What is the nomination process?

Award recipients have been put forward by adults who know the young people professionally. Through a rigorous nomination process, these nominators had to demonstrate the nominee’s impact in five key areas: Vision, social impact, inspiring others, youth leadership, and service journey.

There are 20 Diana Award Judging Panels representing each region or nation both in the UK and internationally. Panels consist of three judges who understand the value of young people, including one young person representative. The panels have the ressponsibility to determine which nominations from each region or nation will receive a Diana Award.

Nominations are judged using the Criteria Guide and Scoring Guide created to measure the quality of youth social action.

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