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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Children play national anthem to welcome Olympic torch to Umm Al Quwain

Young children from the Umm Al Quwain Autism Centre were on song for the Special Olympics on Wednesday

A group of autistic children welcomed the arrival of the Flame of Hope torch to Umm Al Quwain with a stirring rendition of the UAE national anthem.

The torch tour continued its ten-day journey across the Emirates at Umm Al Quwain Autism Centre on Wednesday as the nation gears up for the start of the Special Olympics World Games on March 14.

Mohammed Al Nuaimah, Maied Khaled, Jabir Abdullah, Mohammed Sultan and Mohammed Fahed, five autistic children who attend the centre, have been practicing the anthem for weeks ahead of the iconic Olympic torch's arrival to the emirate.

The youngsters, aged between 12 and 18, played the anthem using an array of musical instruments such as an electronic keyboard, tambourine and drums.

“We are proud that the Flame of Hope run took off from our centre,” said Anood Al Kindi, one of the centre’s social workers.

Young children lined the streets as Olympic fever hit Umm Al Quwain. Antonie Robertson/The National
Young children lined the streets as Olympic fever hit Umm Al Quwain. Antonie Robertson/The National

“It means a lot to us and to our children who practiced so hard during the past two weeks in order to welcome the runners and show the world that they are capable, powerful and talented,” she said.

The torch runners, known as "Guardians of the Flame", took off from the Autism Centre to UAQ Cultural Centre in a 1.3km run joined by a group of young cyclists from Al Arabi Sports and Cultural Club and Maleha Cultural and Sports Club.

"The children are excited. Although they don't show that they understand what is going on, but we believe that they do understand, deep inside, but don’t know how to show it," said Ms Al Kindi.

The Special Olympics World Games torch was then led to Umm Al Quwain Cultural Centre in the presence of local government officials, schools and members of the community.

The runners were greeted with a traditional Al Ayala Emirati dance at the ceremony and took photos with the crowd.

A traditional Emirati band provided the soundtrack to the celebrations as preparations for the Special Olympics World Games continue. Antonie Robertson/The National) 
A traditional Emirati band provided the soundtrack to the celebrations as preparations for the Special Olympics World Games continue. Antonie Robertson/The National) 

Alia Al Dowbi, one of the volunteers at the event, said that she was excited to be part of the event and to have the opportunity to see the Flame of Hope.

“We are proud of our country’s accomplishments, vision and efforts in providing support to all segments of the society and this event stands as is a great example,” said Ms Al Dowbi, a 28-year-old Emirati from Umm Al Quwain.

“We are honoured by the torch visit today as this event gives hope to many people with disabilities in the country and the world and carries a powerful message that we all support,” she said.

The torch runners split into two groups to tour the emirate’s landmarks, taking in the picturesque Umm Al Quwain Mangroves, Umm Al Quwain Marine Club and participating in an 80 metre run from Fishers Square to UAQ Museum.

The final ceremony took place at Martyr's Square where the Flame of Hope was lit in a ceremony attended by Sheikh Rashid bin Saud Al Mualla, Crown Prince of Umm Al Quwain, along with government officials and members of the public.

The Olympic flame will move on to Ajman on Thursday where it will be carried to attractions such as Ajman University, Ajman Castle and Ajman Museum.

Its final destination will be the opening ceremony of the Games in Abu Dhabi next Thursday.

Updated: March 6, 2019 05:35 PM

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