Abu Dhabi // A sculpture containing a football signed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and other UAE leaders is expected to draw the highest bids at a charity auction next week. Ismael Matar, one of the UAE's star footballers, unveiled the sculpture yesterday along with representatives of Nahtam, organiser of the Royal Euro 2008 auction, and the Swiss and Austrian embassies.
On Monday, the sculpture and other sporting paraphernalia will be auctioned at the Emirates Palace hotel to raise money for children with special needs in the UAE. Other items going under the hammer include a ticket to a Manchester City match in England, along with airfare and hotel accommodation; two tickets to the opening match of the Fifa Club World Cup 2009; and two tickets to a November match between the UAE national team and Manchester City.
Also going at auction are two hours on or off the pitch with Matar, who won the best player award in the Fifa World Youth Championship in 2003. "Since it involves helping special-needs children, and I can help, I will take up the initiative," he said. "Just like those children have special needs, we also need them. Whatever we do, we will never be able to give them what they deserve." The ball being offered for auction bears the signatures of Sheikh Mohammed, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, the Ruler of Sharjah; and the Rulers of Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah.
The ball was signed last year during a tour promoting the Euro 2008 tournament, which was co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland. "We had balls, T-shirts and hats to give to the children of the UAE, and we met the Rulers and asked them to sign a ball," said Wolfgang Bruelhart, the Swiss ambassador to the UAE. The sculpture, created by eight female Emirati artists, comprises the first Arabic letter of each emirate. Each letter is engraved with a characteristic denoting its place of origin; Dubai's shows notable structures, for example, and Fujairah's carries a sea anchor.
A silent auction will also be held for artwork created by students from the special-needs centres. Proceeds will help support eight charities in the UAE, including the Special Care Centre in Abu Dhabi, Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs and the Emirates Association of the Blind. The event is being put together by Nahtam, a one-year-old organisation that promotes social responsibility. The group supports non-governmental organisations through fundraising, networking events and public relations work. Nahtam has raised Dh8 million for the Special Care Centre.
Tickets for the auction cost Dh1,250 and can be bought at the Emirates Palace or by calling 50-614-4749 or 02-642-0526. firstname.lastname@example.org