'Reading Nation' auction: Meet the man who won the bid for Kiswa

Sheikh Mohammed, who has spearheaded the Reading Nation campaign, donated a 106-year-old piece of the Holy Kaaba cover (Kiswa) embroidered with gold and silver threads, for the auction. (Bindu Rai)

The UAE community rallied together to support the Reading Nation auction on Tuesday evening, raising a staggering Dh40 million that will contribute towards a generation of children that currently have no access to any form of basic education.

The event "exceeded expectations", according to Dubai Cares CEO Tariq Al Gurg, who told Emirates 24|7: "The show of support from the Emirati community for the Reading Nation campaign is a testament of the right value system instilled in the UAE and its people.

"Our goal was to raise enough funds for five million books, but we reached seven million thanks to the generosity of our community."

From the 24 items on auction, a cumulative Dh37.41 was raised, while another Dh3m was donated at the event itself.

Holy Kaaba cover, a mother's pride

Of the 24 auction items, five of the pieces were donated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.  

Sheikh Mohammed, who has spearheaded the Reading Nation campaign, donated a 106-year-old piece of the Holy Kaaba cover (Kiswa) embroidered with gold and silver threads, for the auction.

This Kiswa was part of a cover was once presented to Abbas II Hilmi Bey, Khedive of Egypt in 1331.

The 22-year-old Saif Ahmed Abdullah bin Suhoor Al Hammadi, who purchased the Kiswa for Dh2.1m said it was a moment of pride for his country and his people.

"I stand here not as a son of one single family, but as a son of UAE, who is stepping up for a greater cause that will help nearly 20m children around the world that don't have access to the privileges we take for granted," he revealed. "His Highness Sheikh Mohammed raised the flag, and we have all risen up to the challenge to perform our national duty."

Al Hammadi says the Kiswa will be a special gift for his mother.

He continued: "She raised me to become the man I am today. This is my contribution to her. Taking this holy Kiswa, which was a part of His Highness' collection will be like he has personally gifted this to my mother."

 Al Hammadi also snapped up a VIP license plate, T-13, for Dh5m, which was part of the five special numbers on the auction block donated by the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai.

Aside from this, the young Emirati businessman also purchased the Arabian Horse 'De Lamar', a purebred that was donated by the Dubai Arabian Horse Stud.

The starting price for the horse was Dh100,000, which was purchased at Dh260,000.

Quiz Al Hammadi if the horse was a gift for his father, and the young man laughed, saying: "This beautiful animal is an Arabian horse and I wasn't going to let it be taken away. He belongs here."

Sheikh Mohammed also donated a collection of art pieces from his private collection at his office for this auction, which collectively raised another Dh2.22m.

Other items at the auction included special number license plates donated by the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai, while telecom giants etisalat and du donated 10 VIP numbers each to go up on the block.

The biggest seller of the night emerged in the form of the VIP license plate, R-10, which started at Dh3.53m after an online auction, finally sold for a staggering Dh9.7m.

Other items in the lot included rare copies of the Holy Quran.

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