Thursday, April 25, 2013
Summary of my trip to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain + 160 photos
Here is the link to over 160 pictures from my trip to UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain).
The main purpose of my trip was to speak at the International Conference on Women's Sports, as well as to promote Webster University and SPICE. It was an honor to be invited to this very prestigious women's event.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development lauded the importance of Abu Dhabi 2nd International Conference on Women's Sports 2013, held under the patronage of H. H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, Supreme Chairperson of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
A number of leading thinkers and specialists in sports affairs locally, regionally and internationally took part in the event, including numerous Olympic Gold medalists.
Sheikh Nahyan said the conference depicts great care attached by Sheikha Fatima to the women empowerment, being partners in the development process in the UAE led by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
He noted that the UAE community appreciates the role of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces on supporting women to discharge their duties.
The Abu Dhabi streets were adorned with advertisements and promotions for the event. There were thousands of banners all over the entire city. The event was organized by the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies' Sports Academy, under the slogan 'Women's Sports, by International Achievements', the conference took place from 21-22 April, at the luxurious 7 star Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Here were some of the objectives of the Conference:
- To understand and discuss the barriers women in sports face
- To highlight the role of sports in improving women’s social and physical well being
- To define the role of the women’s associations in encouraging women to practice sport activities
- To identify the important aspects of sports infrastructure for women
- To understand the importance of promoting the achievements of female athletes
- To understand the international/ regional and local perspective of sports for women
- To highlight the key needs of what it takes to become an Olympic level athlete
- To highlight how young girls can be encouraged to participate more actively in sports
- To inspire working groups that will be the drivers for change
Some of the other key speakers include:
- Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum): Karate Silver Medalist at the 2006 Asian Games.
- Donna de Varona: 2-time Gold medalist in swimming, member of the IOC Women & Sport Commission.
- Teglia Loroupe: 3-time world half marathon champion, winner & 2-time world record holder of the NY City Marathon.
- Nawal El Moutawakel: Moroccan Olympic Champion. 1st Arab woman to win Olympic Gold in 400 meters hurdles. VP of IOC.
- Josefa Idem Guerrini: Compete in 8 Summer Olympics, winning 5 medals. Winning 35 medals in her career (represented Germany & Italy), she became the 1st Italian woman to win World Championships and Olympic medals in canoe sprint.
- Moya Dodd: Prominent football player, represented Australia over 9 years. VP, Asian Football Confederation, Executive Committee Member, Football Federation Australia.
- Carolina Morace: Lawyer and Head Coach of Italian National Women's Football team. 1st female to coach a men's professional team. Also was the head coach of the Canadian national team.
- Luisa Rizzitelli: President of Italian Women Sports Association, and former professional volleyball player.
- Roqaya Al-Gassra: One of the first women to represent Bahrain at the Olympic games. 200 meters Gold medalist at the Doha Asian Games. 1st veiled female athlete at the Athens Summer Olympics.
- Anne Grethe Jeppesen: European Champion in rifle shooting. 1st Norwegian to have a license as an international rifle trainer.
- Margherita Granbassi: Individual and team Bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
The conference was broadcast on UAE national sports channel. I was also one of the four to be interviewed live for a 90 minute national sports show.
It was also an incredible honor to be invited to an exclusive luncheon at the Palace of her Highness Sheika Fatima Bint Mubarak, also known as the Mother of United Arab Emirates.
After my conference in Abu Dhabi, I was invited to visit Dubai, and then Al Ain.
At Al Ain, I visited the Al Ain Chess Club, as well as the HQ of the Asian Chess Federation. After that, I gave a 30 board simul against young members of the Chess Club at the famous Al Ain Shopping Mall. There were some difficult battles but at the end, I was fortunate enough to score 30-0.
It is wonderful to see UAE taking charge in promoting women's rights, especially in education and sports. It is also great to see strong support for chess.
I have traveled to around 55 countries and I must say that UAE is one of the most unique countries I have ever visited. The transformation of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the past few decades is simply stunning, while Al Ain maintains its own charm. These cities are truly a paradise for budding architects.
I met many wonderful and important people during this trip. I hope that this is just the beginning of future collaboration for many important projects to boost chess and women in sports.