DUBAI // A magic show and face painting were among the highlights of a special iftar for orphans from across the country on Wednesday.
More than 65 boys and girls aged between seven and 14 were treated to an evening of fun and games before and after the end-of-fast meal in an event organised by Watani, the UAE's national identity programme, at the H Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.
"I'm really happy to be here," said Eissa Abdulla, 13, one of more than 20 children from the Dar Zayed Orphanage in Al Ain.
"This is the first time we've been to something like this and I've really had a good time."
Abdulla Mubarak, 12, agreed, saying "I really like the setting here and the magician was really good.
"Some of the children are getting their faces painted but that's not really my thing though."
The festivities began with a magician who performed a 20-minute routine that captivated the youngsters. They also took part in a short quiz before listening to religious lectures, and were presented with toys at the end of the evening.
For Rashid Saeed, 14, the excitement had been building for days.
"They told us about it last week and I've been looking forward to it since then," he said.
"All my friends are excited to come here and are really happy that we have been invited."
Representatives of the Dubai Government's Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation also attended the event. This is the fourth year that Watani has held an iftar for orphans, and organisers say it was the biggest one so far.
"The idea behind it is to show that orphans are an important part of our community as well," said Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori, the director general of Watani.
"Ramadan is a time for reflection and doing good and it is important that we as a society recognise that orphans can also play a part in our society. I hope that people take from this an attitude that we are all part of the same country and we should help and support one another."