At 1.30pm Brazil local time (8:30pm UAE time) Thursday, the flag of the UAE will be hoisted at the Olympic Village, in Rio de Janeiro, 24 hours ahead of the launch of 31st Olympic Games that continues up to August 21.
The Rio Summer Olympics will see the participation of 10,903 athletes, hailing from 206 countries, competing in 42 sports comprising 306 disciplines at 37 venues.
The event will be attended by Khaled Al Mualla, UAE Ambassador to Brazil; Mohammed Al Kamali, Secretary-General of UAE National Olympic Committee (NOC), Dawood Al Hajri, Assistant Secretary-General of the UAE NOC; Major General Ahmed Al Raysi, Chair of the Olympic Planning Committee-cum-President of the Shooting Federation; Abdul Mohsen Al Dosari, Chair of the Technical Commission-cum-Assistant Secretary-General of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, and several members of the UAE Embassy as well as athletes who arrived in Rio.
Six UAE athletes have arrived so far in Rio. They are Yousif Mirza, Saif bin Fetais, Khaled Al Kaabi, Nada Al Badwawi, Yaqoub Al Saadi and Aysha Al Baluchi. The rest will join them soon.
The UAE is delivering a message of peace and friendship to the world through the Rio Olympics, according to the NOC, which added that under the presidency of Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the NOC’s message revolves around sport as a lifestyle and a base for building humans, embracing peace, friendship, solidarity, fair competition, reciprocal respect and revamping the UAE Olympic movement, to take a leading role in internal and external events of all types.
"The NOC is focussed on promoting the Olympic ideals, co-operating and sharing expertise, utilising talents, building competencies, diffusing Olympic values, enhancing the national identity, and serving the community," the NOC statement added.
Sultan bin Mijrin, President of the Weightlifting Federation, has said that their participation in the Olympic Games for the second time in a row is in itself an achievement for the game which had seen tremendous successes in a short span, enabling female weightlifters to take part in London Olympics 2012.
He added, "The UAE’s women are taking solid steps in the Olympics and female athletes have touched an all-time high as the country is represented by four female athletes, which is a testament to the improvements made in this regard and the immense support accorded by the UAE leadership to this sector. Equally, individual sports in the UAE have a promising future, and we pin high hopes on our athletes who are here to compete rather than for the show. Clinching a second Olympic medal is the least we can offer to our nation and its wise leaders. Weightlifting has forced its way into the Olympic Games through competitions and I wish Aysha and all athletes competing in the Games every success in landing the spoils."
Emirati shooter, Khalid Al Kaabi, is now giving the finishing touches to his double trap event on August 10, where he seeks to repeat his success in the Asian Championship, following his surprise qualification for Rio.
Khaled Al Kaabi of the United Arab Emirates during a practice session at the Olympic Shooting center on August 2, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Getty Images)
His coach Sheikh Ahmed bin Hasher had been coaching him for the Tokyo Olympics Games but Al Kaabi stunned all the favourites to qualify to Rio.
Al Kaabi noted that despite the numerous challenges the have encountered, be it in the Olympic Village or on the track, they would not be detracted from realising their ultimate objective of honourably representing the UAE.
"We have come here to compete, not to enjoy ourselves or just participate," he added.
Al Kaabi said he had made several notes, which he would discuss with both the Shooting Association and the National Olympic Committee in order to draft plans for the Tokyo Olympics Games 2020. Each shooter here, he said, boasted of a dedicated technical and medical body.
"We need to adopt the same approach to groom so many talented Emirati shooters, as the sport is part of our heritage. So if we focus on the minute details, we will reach the podium in all competitions, including the Olympic Games," he noted.
"World champions have been practicing and training since the last Olympics, and if we are to get the better of them, we should start training from Rio to Tokyo 2020," he added.
The international handball observer, Omar Al Zubair arrived in Rio to officiate in the handball events after being selected by the International Handball Federation as an ambassador for Asia in these Olympics, thus being the only Arab handball technical supervisor in the event.
Al Zubair is the first Emirati selected for technical observation in a group game in the Olympic Games, and is making his seventh appearance.