1,500 students take to Dubai streets to honour Sheikh Zayed

1,500 students take to Dubai streets to honour Sheikh Zayed
Students from different schools took part in the relay in honor of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

The students united to celebrate the country's national sports day.



by

Kelly Clarke

Published: Wed 7 Mar 2018, 12:48 PM

Last updated: Thu 8 Mar 2018, 1:29 AM

Around 9am on Wednesday morning, cars came to a slow crawl along parts of Jumeirah Beach Road as 1,000 dedicated students took to the streets to honour the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Andrea D’silva said she was walking to say thanks to the late Sheikh Zayed for letting her make the UAE her home. And Clyde Fernandes said he simply wanted to “honour the founding father’s vision and legacy”.
D’silva and Fernandes were just two of the 1,500 students from Dubai’s public schools who took part in the first torch relay in Dubai, which was held in line with the UAE National Sports Day.
Hosted by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the students from more than 100 private schools, including St Mary’s Catholic School and Indian High School (IHS), put their running shoes on for the 15-km relay across the city.
It was a heartening scene along Jumeriah Beach road as the hundreds-strong crowd walking the first leg of the relay took to the streets along with a full marching band to kick-start the first-ever torch relay.
Not only did the students unite to celebrate the country’s national sports day, they also donned caps and T-shirts bearing the face of the late Sheikh Zayed to honour the positive values he left behind when he passed away.
Starting out from Etihad Museum in front of the Union House — the very room in which Sheikh Zayed signed the declaration in 1971 unifying all seven emirates — the relay saw students exchange the torch at five stops throughout the city.
The relay concluded in a flame lighting ceremony on Kite Beach to remember the late Sheikh Zayed.
Speaking to Khaleej Times at the beginning of the relay, 16-year-old Pranjal Sharma from IHS said there were no hesitations when she was asked to participate in the event,
“I’m here today to upkeep the legacy of Sheikh Zayed in keeping the nation fit and healthy.”
And for classmate Neha Ramanathan, walking in honour of the man who saw the UAE’s future before anyone else meant a lot. “His Highness has contributed so much towards the traditions and cultures of the UAE so we are here to walk this marathon to celebrate his legacy.”
Leading the relay was Dr Abdulla Al Karam, chairman of the board of directors and director-general of the KHDA. Speaking about the day he said this year’s UAE Sports Day is an “exceptional event as it coincides with the Year of Zayed”.
He added: “We encourage the school community to come together and celebrate this day as we look back at the positive values left behind by late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”
During a year dedicated to the UAE’s founding father, St Mary’s Catholic School students Clyde Fernandes and Cheyne Bartholomeusz said even a small gesture like walking a relay is a great way to show appreciation for Sheikh Zayed.
“Sheikh Zayed built this country out of nothing. We’re also standing outside Union House, the very building that marked the start of a great nation. That is special.”
Wednesday’s event was held in partnership with Dubai Sports Council, Dubai Police and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Saeed Hareb, secretary general of Dubai Sports Council, said with students representing the UAE’s future, it made sense to make them the heart of the relay.
kelly@khaleejtimes.com

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director General, KHDA, Ali Bujasim, Retired FIFA referee and Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council leads the lighting of torch during the Zayed Torch Relay in honor of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan at the Etihad Museum in Dubai
Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director General, KHDA, Ali Bujasim, Retired FIFA referee and Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council leads the lighting of torch during the Zayed Torch Relay in honor of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan at the Etihad Museum in Dubai

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