Dubai: With a line-up of awardees, ranging from young achievers in the Arab world over the past year to larger-than-life sports administrators, the fourth edition of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award proved it’s growing stature on Sunday afternoon.
Tawfiq Al Makloufi, the 1,500 metres Algerian gold medallist at the London Olympics, received the best individual athlete award in the Arab section.
The Personality of the Year award went to Jacques Rogge, President of International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the smooth handling of the London Olympics as well as his contribution to the Olympic movement.
The awards were presented by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council and Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the Award and President of the UAE National Olympic Committee.
The ballroom of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel resonated with the UAE national anthem to mark the opening of yet another edition of the award, which is part of a long-term vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to value and honour sportspersons and administrators.
“It’s one of the most important sports awards today and it shows that the Ruler of Dubai cares for our fraternity,” said Joseph Blatter, President of Fifa and a special guest for the occasion.
“I dedicate this award to the Arab world. It will certainly spur me on to raise higher targets for myself,” Makloufi told Gulf News on the sidelines.
While his achievement was certainly the toast of the region’s athletes at the London Games, the two recipients of Arab Youth Achievement awards were stars in their own rights — the lithe Habiba Al Gharaibi of Tunisia winning the silver medal in 3,000 metres steeplechase while Ala’eddin Al Qassim of Egypt won a bronze in fencing.
The afternoon also brought a fair share of glory for UAE sport and there was a poignant moment when Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani, the shooter who won the UAE their only gold at the Paralympics, was overcome with emotion when Shaikh Hamdan handed him the award.
“It’s a special day in my life,” the ex-Army man told the media after the ceremony.
The front row in the ballroom was a photographers’ delight as lined up next to Shaikh Hamdan and Shaikh Ahmad were Blatter - arguably the most influential sports administrator in the world, pole vault legend Sergei Bubka, in his capacity as President of Ukraine’s Olympic Committee, who received his country’s award for ‘Team Achievement on Values,’ Nawal Al Moutawakel, a pioneering figure for women’s athletics in the region and now Vice-President of IOC, and of course Diego Maradona — a goodwill ambassador of Dubai Sports Council.
Al Moutawakel, also a member of the trustees’ board for the award, received the award on behalf of Rogge. Dr Ahmad Saad Al Sharif, General Secretary of Dubai Sports Council, delivered the keynote address. Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of Dubai Sport Council’s Executive Office, also graced the occasion along with several high-ranking government officials.