DUBAI // When Muthana Khafaji joined the Dubai Hurricanes rugby team, looking for a place to belong after moving from Iraq 10 years ago, he did not know the difference between a maul and a rook.
Now the man named Moe by his mates is in Jordan battling colon cancer. But his friends have not forgotten him.
This morning, 39 kayakers will paddle 35 kilometres around the World Islands, a task that will take up to seven hours.
For those who want to take part but find the Arabian Gulf too daunting, there is also a 10km paddle out to the islands.
Chris Gregory, 32, the Hurricanes' captain, was due to lead the pack to paddle around the islands at 5am, leaving from Kite Beach.
Moe had several favourite spots around Dubai where he trained or met friends. They will be included in a marathon some of his other friends are running today.
Twelve runners were scheduled to start at 6am, leaving KO Gym in Dubai Marina, running past Barasti Bar and Moe's old compound in Satwa, as well as Fibber Magee's on Sheikh Zayed Road. They plan to finish at Kite Beach.
Members of Dubai's running community are expected to join in along the way.
"Moe is a person who would give you the shirt off his back, and a few times in his life this is literally all he had," Mr Gregory said.
"We as his friends are doing everything we can to raise awareness."
Moe joined the Hurricanes after meeting a few of the players.
"Whilst they were not the most competitive team in the UAE back then, they were a very social one," Mr Gregory said. "Moe, being the only Arab in the club, quickly learnt how to gel with his new environment and was quickly one of the boys."
Ian Gregory, Chris's brother who also plays for the Hurricanes, said Moe was a strong player.
"Whilst he may not have been the best player in the team, he gave all he had each week and joined in all the social activities, personally taking on the job of welcoming each new member to the Hurricanes family," said Ian, 34.
"His contribution led to the success of the Hurricanes today."