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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

UAE schools to finish two hours early on Tuesday for Asian Cup semi-final

Announcement will allow young fans plenty of time to prepare for UAE-Qatar match

Schools across the country will finish two hours early on Tuesday to allow fans to watch the UAE play Qatar in the Asian Cup semi-final.

All government schools will close early across the UAE following the announcement by the Ministry of Education and many private schools are also expected to follow suit.

In Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, education authorities confirmed all private schools will finish two hours early to make it easier for pupils to support the UAE team in its clash with Qatar.

Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority said no private schools in the emirate applied to shut early.

Brighton College Abu Dhabi, a private school in the emirate, sent out a circular to parents late on Monday stating it would be closing at around 1pm after receiving notice from Abu Dhabi’s Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek).

Others followed suit, including Cranleigh Abu Dhabi, which will close at 1pm, but will provide staff on site to look after children of parents who cannot get away from work in time for the early pick-up.

Government officials said the early closure was to help boost support for the match and "encourage our national team".

A circular issued by the Ministry on Monday directed schools to cut each class on Tuesday to 30 minutes, thereby reducing the total length of the day.

The circular also advised schools to co-ordinate with parents and Emirates Transport to ensure pupils were picked up earlier.

The crunch game against Qatar begins at 6pm but having schools close early will help clear roads and allow fans to make the journey to Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi more easily.

On Monday, families across the UAE welcomed the move and said they were ready to cheer on their team to victory.

Some are planning to prepare a feast with friends while others have reserved tables at cafes to watch the match with family.

“It’s going to be a big day and we're ready to watch our team win,” said Sulaiman Al Naqbi, who is planning to go to a cafe along with his sons and brothers.

“We didn’t have the chance to go to the stadium so I suggested reserving a big table at our favourite cafe and watch the game from there,” said Mr Al Naqbi, 45, an Emirati father of five from Ras Al Khaimah.

“My children are very excited jumping. We'll take them to buy UAE flags after school and get ready to cheer for the team."

Mira Al Zaabi said her family were planning to arrange for a huge feast for all the family.

“It’s going to be like the first day of Eid,” said Ms Al Zaabi, 29, from RAK.

“All my uncles and aunts along with their children will come and join us. My mother will start cooking the food tomorrow while my aunts will bring the sweets."

Updated: January 29, 2019 10:23 AM

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