ABU DHABI // A charity auction of a football signed by rulers from all the seven Emirates was almost called off last night when it initially failed to attract high enough bids. There was confusion as the organisers deliberated over whether or not to continue after the highest bid reached Dh110,000 (US$30,000). "Should I honour it or not?" asked the auctioneer. "This is not the expected price, we will re-auction the ball again," said Ebrahim al Haddar, the chairman of Nahtam (We Care), a group based in Abu Dhabi, which set up the auction at the Emirates Palace hotel to benefit special needs organisations. An audience member protested that the bidding must continue since the auction had been opened.
After a few minutes, Mr al Haddar allowed the bidding to resume. "Since it's a charity auction we will continue," he said. The ball was eventually bought for Dh200,000 by Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi, the Minister of Foreign Trade. The ball carried the signatures of UAE officials and rulers including Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, the Ruler of Sharjah; and the Rulers of Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Fujairah.
It stood on a sculpture by seven female Emirati artists, which was also part of the auction. About 150 people attended the Royal Euro 2008 Charity Auction, also organised by the embassies of Austria and Switzerland, the hosts of the Euro 2008 football championship. Other items that were auctioned included tickets to the upcoming friendly between the UAE and Manchester City, which went for Dh5,000, a hotel stay, and a two-hour training session with Ismail Matar, the Emirati footballer who was named best player at the Youth World Cup in 2003.
Beneficiaries of the event included the Special Care Centre in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates Association of the Blind and Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs. email@example.com