Amir Naqvi, sports editor
The Friday death of His Highness the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, sparked an outpouring of grief as sports federations and clubs paid rich tributes.
Under Sheikh Khalifa’s leadership, sports in the United Arab Emirates have seen a major transformation at all levels.
In 2016, the late President approved a historic law allowing all residents of the United Arab Emirates to participate in all official sports competitions held in the country, regardless of their nationality.
The federal law, which came in accordance with Sheikh Khalifa’s directives, translated the UAE government’s desire to engage all residents in community activities into a new testament to the true principles and values of tolerance and cultural diversity espoused. by the country.
The law applies to children of Emirati mothers, holders of UAE passports, and anyone born in the UAE, as well as residents of all nationalities.
The International Handball Federation (IHF) has posted a message on its website expressing its sadness over the passing of Sheikh Khalifa.
“The International Handball Federation has learned of the passing of the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa, at the age of 73, after a long period of illness.
“A passionate sports fan, often seen attending different events, Sheikh Khalifa has played an important role in the development of sports in the UAE, including handball.
“On behalf of the IHF and the entire handball family, Dr Hassan Moustafa sends his deepest condolences to the bereaved UAE nation at this difficult time,” the federation said in a statement.
Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Board of the Emirates Racing Authority, mourned the death of the President.
In a tweet on his official Twitter account, Sheikh Mansour said: “Today we bid farewell to an inspirational leader and president, brother and teacher, who led the nation with dedication, laid the foundations for the rebirth of United Arab Emirates and was a model of morality, kindness and generosity. I pray to Almighty Allah to grant Khalifa Bin Zayed eternal peace.
Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, also offered his condolences on the passing of the late president.
“May Allah bestow mercy on the soul of the father of our nation, Sheikh Khalifa. We ask Allah to grant him paradise and grant us all patience and consolation in these sad times. To Allah we will all return,” said tweeted Sheikh Mansoor on his official account.
Floyd Mayweather’s exhibition fight against Don Moore – which was due to take place on Saturday at the famous helipad atop the 700ft Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai – has been postponed following the death of Sheikh Khalifa.
Mayweather mourned the death of Sheikh Khalifa in an Instagram post early Friday.
“Sending my condolences to the entire UAE. RIP Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed,” he posted.
Boxing manager Sarah Fina, who was scheduled to fight on the undercard, posted: ‘Entire show cancelled!’ The President of the United Arab Emirates passed away today!
Dibba Al Hisn Sports and Culture Club and Sharjah Sports Council also mourned the death of Sheikh Khalifa.
Members of the Dubai Scarlet Hockey Club expressed their shock at the passing of the President of the United Arab Emirates and offered their sincere condolences and sympathy to the Al Nahyan family.
Faizan Iqbal Muhammad Iqbal Sajjad, founder of Dubai Scarlet Hockey Club, said he was “shocked and stunned”.
“I literally don’t know how to sum up this situation. We have lost one of the biggest supporters of sport in the UAE. My condolences go out to his family.”
Paying rich tributes to Sheikh Khalifa, Faizan said: “Apart from his invaluable contribution to UAE sports, Sheikh Khalifa will always be remembered for a resolution which marked a milestone in the history of UAE sports as it enabled Emirati women married to foreigners and expats to join local clubs and represent national teams in various sports.
“This decision encouraged more athletes to participate in different sports, and it was an ideal harmony with the careful vision of the country’s wise leadership and the UAE’s strategy to achieve sustainability through sport and create an enabling environment. to sports,” he added.