Dubai torchbearer calls it the 'experience of a lifetime'
It was quite simply, "the experience of a lifetime".
Yesterday at 12.09pm Abdulla Al Gurg became one of the 174 Olympic Torchbearers to carry the flame on the penultimate day of its journey.
Describing his run through the London borough of Lambeth, he said: "It was amazing. It was spectacular. There were thousands of people all there and cheering. You could not hope for anything more in life. It was so much more than I had imagined."
Mr Al Gurg is general manager of Easa Saleh Al Gurg (Esag) Group based in Dubai where he lives with his family. He was nominated by Lloyds TSB in London, with whom his family has banked for decades.
But it was his role on the board of the Esag Charity Foundation, which funds education and health causes, that convinced the Logoc committee to select him for the honour. The foundation has donated Dh33 million to causes around the world.
Mr Al Gurg said it had taken a while for the significance of his Olympic role to sink in. "I received the letter from Locog in February but it was hush-hush until May. We lived very calmly with the information. I didn't realise, I think, how great it was."
Yesterday brought it home. "There were so many people and it was all really so well organised, the security, the transport. Wonderful," he said. "I was surprised. The torch is quite heavy and you have to balance it quite carefully."
Mr Al Gurg joked that he asked corporate friends if they would like to sponsor part of his white Olympic outfit.
But he admitted: "There is nothing about your personality involved because the Olympic Torch is communal. To carry it means to carry it with all the Torchbearers with a common purpose - not your own."
Other bearers from the UAE include Elham Qasimi, the first Arab woman to trek to the North Pole; Simran Vedyvas, a social campaigner; Hassanain Anver, founder of an online UAE youth platform; Jalal bin Thaneya, a social advocate for children with special needs; and Robert Swift, a marketing manager from Etisalat.
A father of three, Mr Al Gurg returns to the UAE today to spend Ramadan with his family. But he is going home with a very special souvenir.
"I am allowed to keep my torch once they have decommissioned it. I plan to display it in my office in Dubai."