Dubai: It was a celebration of inclusivity in Dubai and the spirit of unity in diversity in the UAE was on show at the Unity Run 2016 that took place on Al Mamzar Beach Corniche on Friday morning.
Over 2,000 people of different nationalities and religions, including families and children with special needs, took part in the first edition of the run organised to support the cause of people with disabilities.
Primarily held to raise funds for Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs, the community event also supported the efforts of Dubai to become one of the most disabled-friendly cities in the world by 2020.
Held under the patronage of Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the event also celebrated the 35th anniversary of Al Noor and the 45th anniversary of the UAE’s Union.
Raising a toast to the theme of unity, participants waved the UAE flag while taking part in the non-competitive run or walk for 3km and 7km.
At the front-line of the 3km event was British expatriate David Singleton who accompanied two special needs children as their running buddy like some other volunteers.
“This morning is all about looking after those who perhaps can’t run [by] lucky people like us who can run … and it’s about taking little friends out where everybody is equal this morning … and it’s an amazing morning,” Singleton told Gulf News after completing the run with his special buddies.
Indian expatriate Neelam Bhatia, whose teen son Dhiren is a child with special needs, said the event proved a lot of people in Dubai are enthusiastic to show that there is no difference of cultures, religions, and abilities among the residents here.
Dr Alka Kalra, mother of Shobhika, a young woman with special needs, said: “[UAE] is such a wonderful country. We all feel so comfortable … we need to do something [like the run] to make it more comfortable. Today we feel delighted to be a part of this event … This run means a lot to us … it makes us feel so comfortable.”
“I loved the run … It was so much fun … We are all one,” added Shobhika, 25, who took part in the event in her wheelchair.
Darko Pavic and family from Germany initially registered for the run so that his daughter Sofija, a budding runner, could take part in it. “But all of us ended up participating in it to support the cause. It was a special feeling,” said his wife Melanie.
Popular RJ Kris Fade and members of Dubai Drums spiced up the festive spirit at the venue.