ABU DHABI // Hundreds of people gathered last night for a special ceremony honouring Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak with an award from the International Olympic Committee.
Sheikha Fatima, widow of Sheikh Zayed, the founding President, attended the event at the Emirates Palace hotel but sat above the audience in the royal balcony.
The IOC President's Trophy for outstanding merit in the development of sport particularly honours Sheikha Fatima's dedication to the advancement of women in sport.
There was standing room only among the audience, who included players from the UAE women's football team, male athletes and children.
In the crowd was Safa Abdulla, a volunteer with Takatof, the national programme for social volunteering.
"I'm very proud that our Mother of the Nation is holding this award," said Ms Abdulla, 26, from Abu Dhabi.
"She is inspirational to women. She inspired older ladies and young ladies and even the disabled. It's really important for women to take part in sport because it will keep them young, healthy and active."
Sheikha Fatima chairs the board of directors of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy. Last April she inspired the launch of an annual international award for female athletes in her name.
The IOC award was received on her behalf by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamdan bin Zayed and Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, head of the UAE National Olympic Committee.