Expo 2020 Dubai: School students ecstatic after Sheikh Hamdan meeting

'I will never forget this day,' say third-graders after chance encounter with crown prince

By Sherouk Zakaria

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 7:38 PM

A group of third-graders at Aalyia School (cycle 1 and kindergarten) in Al Ain were in for a royal surprise at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The students had the opportunity to meet His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, during their Expo 2020 visit as part of a school trip on Wednesday.

With beaming faces, students showed Sheikh Hamdan their Expo passport stamps and shared the experiences they had seen at the world's biggest cultural event before snapping a picture with the royal in front of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion.

Randa Alkhawaja, a science teacher at Aalyia School who supervised the students on-site, said the children were filled with happiness at the encounter.

She added, "Expo 2020 provides a great platform for students to spark their imagination and expand their horizons towards the future. Seeing one of the country's leaders at such a massive event boasts their morale and delivers the message that the future is in their hands."

On Wednesday, Expo 2020 marked a milestone, with 100,000 public school students visiting the site to delve into different cultures and experiences.

To mark the occasion, 400 students formed the "100K" sign in front of Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion with Her Excellency Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, the Minister of State for Public Education and Chairman of the Emirates Schools Establishment.

Captioning the Instagram video of the students' meeting with Sheikh Hamdan, Al Muhairi wrote, "the leader of the youth. The best gift for our students at Expo is meeting you."

The student trips are part of the educational and cultural activities held at Expo 2020 to involve youth in the making of the future. The Expo School Programme offers exclusive free tickets to UAE students to experience three vibrant Thematic Districts (Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability). Other educational and cultural activities are aligned with diverse school curricula in the UAE to provide an enriching learning experience.

Moment to remember

First in line of the queue of students to meet Sheikh Hamdan was 9-year-old Dana Al Ahbabi, captured in the picture with a pink shirt and mask.

"I told him I was very excited to see him. When I showed him my passport with all the stamps, he said I am a champion," said the third-grader.

"I will never forget this day. It will forever stay in my memory."

Another student in the picture, Sultan Saeed, 9, said he was proud to meet the role model he had always looked up to.

"I showed Sheikh Hamdan 3 of my passport stamps, and he smiled as he asked us to take a picture with him. I would love to see him again."

The 7-year-old Mohammed Hamad said his favourite part in Expo 2020 was seeing Sheikh Hamdan.

"He was very friendly and nice, just how I always imagined him to be. The moment I'll always remember from Expo is meeting him."

- sherouk@khaleejtimes.com

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