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UAE: Huge Chinese presence for annual event

Preparations on in full swing for Al Wafa Marathon scheduled over four days from November 27

Gulf News

Dubai: More than 1,000 Chinese have been confirmed for the annual Al Wafa Marathon that will culminate on UAE National Day on December 2.

Held for the first time in close coordination with the Chinese community in the UAE, the Wafa Marathon has traditionally been a tribute to the wise and astute leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The marathon normally ends with a presentation of a marathon letter of loyalty to the leader made by various members of local communities residing in the UAE.

The meeting at the Dubai Police Officers Club was held in the presence of Ahmad Al Kamali, President, UAE Athletics Association, and Brigadier Khalid Ali Shuhail, Vice-President, General Department of Happiness of Society, and Salah Mohammad Hassan, Director of the Al Wafa Marathon.

Zhang Xijing, Chief Representative of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade told Gulf News that the participation of such a huge contingent from China signifies the strong bonds between China and the UAE. “The focus is on sport, on cultures and on peoples of these two great nations. And by participating in the Al Wafa Marathon we want to send out this message of peace and brotherhood between our two countries,” Xijing added.

Established in 2011, the annual Al Wafa Marathon is in fact a baton relay run in all seven emirates by participants from various nationalities residing in the UAE. However, this year a few minor changes have been made with the four-day event opening in Abu Dhabi with a 5km run and a full marathon on November 27. On the next day, there will be 2km runs in Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain before moving to Sharjah and Ajman on November 29.

The final day on November 30 will be in Dubai where an 8km road race will be held with a start from Union House in Jumeirah going all the way to the finish line at Burj Al Arab. “The idea of this event is to acknowledge the contribution made by Shaikh Khalifa in fostering amity and peace between people of China and the UAE,” Lilly Lee, Race Organiser and Vice President and Director, Dafeng Port Financial Leasing (Beijing) Company Limited, told Gulf News.

“We have roped in some of the most famous people and personalities from all walks of life and we are assured of more than 1,500 people participating in this prestigious event,” she added.

Race Director Salah Mohammad Hassan was pleased with the progress made by the event in such a short time. “Each year we try and innovate and bring in new elements for the relay. This year it will be the involvement of the Chinese that will make this marathon a truly memorable event,” he said.

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