Rebecca Irvin, the head of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, (www.rolexawards.com) one of the world’s most respected philanthropic programmes, applauded Oman’s initiatives in environment, heritage conservation; called the country a role model in the Gulf, and encouraged greater participation from Omani individuals and organizations, in the 32-year-old programme.
“Oman is home to many outstanding endeavours in culture and heritage preservation and environmental conservation, and is certainly a model in the Gulf,” Irvin said at a media briefing in Muscat recently. “It is particularly encouraging to see so many young Omani nationals involved at the grassroots level. We are confident that the rest of the world wants to hear these stories of progress, enterprise and innovation, and we are here today to actively encourage more participation from Oman in future editions of the Rolex Awards.”
For the past three decades, the Rolex Awards have assisted men and women around the world who are quietly advancing human knowledge and well-being through pioneering work in five broad areas: science and medicine, technology and innovation, exploration and discovery, the environment, and cultural heritage.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise were initiated by the late André J. Heiniger, former chairman of Rolex, in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the company’s greatest technical achievements, the waterproof Oyster chronometer, and to encourage human endeavour.
The Awards provide financial assistance to people embarking on new ventures or pursuing ongoing projects, individuals who typically work outside the mainstream and often have no access to traditional funding sources.
The Awards typically receive between 1,500 and 2,000 entries from more than 100 countries per series; the Middle East and North Africa nations have historically yielded the fewest applicants.
Last year, Irvin explained, Rolex of Geneva chose to focus special attention on the MENA countries, reaching out to governments, NGOs, academia and individuals across the region. A decision was also made to hold the Rolex Awards global prize-giving ceremony in the Middle East for the first time, in Dubai on November 18, 2008.
The outreach efforts drew 138 applications from the Gulf, Levant and North Africa, a 294 per cent increase in the region over previous years. Only two of those applications came from Oman.
“With all that we have seen and learned about Oman, its priorities and the strong, valuable projects under way around the country, we are confident that future editions of the Rolex Awards will better reflect the level and quality of activity here,” Irvin added.