Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday took part in the opening of the Seventh Asian Winter Games in the host country of Kazakhstan.
Sheikh Mohammed joined the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, as well as delegations from the international Olympic Committee in the opening of the first major sporting event in Kazakhstan since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The UAE is one of the 25 participating countries, and will be competing in ice hockey.
The flame of the Asian Winter Games 2011 was lit in Kuwait on January 11, and then the relay began in the Kazakhstan city of Almaty, spanning 14 cities across Kazakhstan for 20 days before its arrival yesterday in Astana, the capital. There will be 69 games in five main sports before the competition concludes on February 6.
The mascot of the Games is known as Irbi, shortened from Irbis, the endangered silver and white snow leopards native to Kazakhstan.
Sheikh Mohammed and Republic of Kazakhstan officials also discussed bilateral relations and explored means of expanding co-operation between the two countries, according to a statement released by the Crown Prince Court.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1992. Their main areas of mutual interest include oil, aluminium and petrochemicals. The Republic of Kazakhstan has been slowly gaining international attention, with the seventh World Islamic Economic Forum also to be held this year in Astana, from June 7-9.