Murshid Al Rumaithy gives instructions to workers at Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi yesterday. He is supervising the dismantling of installations at the venue of papal mass. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: As hundreds of workers continue to dismantle temporary installations at Zayed Sports City after the historic papal mass, an Emirati official who supervised them said their commitment for a larger cause — religious harmony — was quite impressive.

“Around 5,000 workers, mostly non-Christians — Muslims, Hindus and people of other faiths [along with Christians] — worked with a great sense of excitement and commitment during the 72-hour preparations at the stadium,” Murshid Al Rumaithi, event administrator at the Presidential Protocol in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, told Gulf News on Friday.

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The workers will continue their dismantling work until Sunday or Monday. “Now they can work in a relaxed manner as there is no deadline,” he said.

But that was not the case during the preparations within limited time, as the Asia Cup Football at the stadium ended only on February 1, leaving only 72 hours for them to ready the venue for the February 5 papal mass.

Duty

He said most of the workers were not familiar with what a Christian mass entailed, yet they took it as a religious duty to prepare the stage and make all other arrangements as required.

“It proved that all of them have absorbed the ideas of tolerance and fraternity propagated in the Year of Tolerance,” he said.

The massive stage erected for Pope Francis to hold the papal mass at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Al Rumaithi said the words "Year of Tolerance" were enough to motivate officials, workers and volunteers during the tough preparations.

“The word ‘tolerance’ worked wonders during many challenging situations.”

It proved that all of them have absorbed the ideas of tolerance and fraternity propagated in the Year of Tolerance.”

- Murshid Al Rumaithi, Event administrator

They all were motivated by the importance of the global event.

“Whenever someone needed an extra push, I would simply tell them we are working for a larger cause — Year of Tolerance. We have to show to the world that we are serious and committed to this idea. That was enough to get everyone going,” Al Rumaithi said.

3 shifts

The workers along with volunteers covered three shifts a day between them, but many Emirati officials, including Al Rumaithi, worked almost round the clock during the three crucial days.

“We would take short naps whenever we felt sleepy,” he said.

He said there were over 5,000 workers and 2,000 volunteers inside the stadium, with an additional 6,000 on duty across the UAE. They included personnel from the police, traffic and health departments.

Whenever someone needed an extra push, I would simply tell them we are working for a larger cause — Year of Tolerance. We have to show to the world that we are serious and committed to this idea. That was enough to get everyone going.

- Murshid Al Rumaithi, Event administrator

He said workers and officials went beyond the call of their roles to make sure every thing went well. “Sometimes we took up the duty of a security guard at the gate and even distributed food. We did everything,” Al Rumaithi said.

The 26-year-old Industrial Management graduate said the mega event was an opportunity to put key project management principles to test.

At the end, what was most rewarding was the smile on people’s faces.

“Most of them came from very far. They were tired as they reached Abu Dhabi late in the night or in the wee hours. Still they could be seen smiling as they cherished the well-organised mass. That was what mattered to us and made us all happy,” Al Rumaithi said.