The memorial service for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday is expected to be one of the largest such gatherings in generations with tens of thousands of South African mourners and dozens of foreign leaders expected.
South African officials say the normal 94,000-seat capacity of Johannesburg’s FNB stadium probably will not suffice to accommodate all mourners. Security for the event is likely to be tight as the list of presidents, heads of government, royalty and celebrities keeps growing by the hour.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan will lead a UAE delegation to South Africa to attend the memorial service and funeral.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Social Development, is one of 59 foreign government who confirmed their attendance on Sunday.
Others who have confirmed their attendance at the event include the US president, Barack Obama, the British prime minister, David Cameron, and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Sheikh Nahyan will attend Mandela’s funeral on December 15.
The South African Ambassador to the UAE, Mpetjane Kgaogelo Lekgoro, said he was honoured that the UAE was sending a delegation.
“It means a lot to all South Africans,” he said
The American talk show host Oprah Winfrey and singer-activist Bono, as well as Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel are expected to be among the celebrity mourners.
* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse