Mohammed Khalaf won the UAE's first gold medal of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the -88kg powerlifting. RTSNJFU
Mohammed Khalaf won the UAE's first gold medal of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in the -88kg powerlifting. RTSNJFU

The UAE, after record medal haul in Rio, set foundations for Tokyo 2020 and beyond



RIO DE JANEIRO // Take a bunch of standalone statistics, place them inside the Super Spin Doctor 3000, hit the green (and red, white and black) button and watch as neat little rows of Numerical Indisputable Facts (NIFs) are squeezed out onto the machine’s adjacent conveyor belt.

NIFs such as:

1. The UAE took 18 athletes to the Paralympic Games and came home with seven medals, representing a strike rate of more than 38 per cent. Brazil managed only 25 per cent while the United States finished with 41 per cent.

2. Arriving in Rio having won 12 medals in six previous appearances, the UAE’s record haul at a single Games was four, achieved in both Sydney and Athens. Rio represents a 75 per cent increase on that previous best and increases the all-time medal count by more than 50 per cent.

3. After 528 events in which 160 countries competed, the UAE finished a record-high of joint-38th in the medal table, alongside Czech Republic, Denmark and Morocco, all three of whom brought larger delegations.

More from the Paralympic Games:

• Noura Al Ketbi: Silver in shot put F32 class wins seventh medal for UAE

• Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani: UAE shooter needs a new trophy cabinet to hold record-medal haul

• Mohammed Al Hammadi: Sets new Paralympic Games record in T34 800m to win UAE's second gold

Of course, if the settings on the Super SD3000 are configured incorrectly, other results may be produced. For example, with 4,346 athletes competing for 2,347 medals, the chances of winning have never been so high. But now is not the time for such NIFs. It is clear even without the assistance of spin doctoring this month has been overwhelmingly positive for the Emirates. The country’s Paralympic team has reached historic levels of achievement.

Shooter Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani became the most decorated Emirati athlete in history, adding a trio of silvers to the gold he won at London 2012. Mohammed Khalaf and Mohammed Al Hammadi won their second golds in powerlifting and athletics respectively to now each hold more first-place medals than every UAE Olympian combined. And Sara Al Senaani, in taking shot-put bronze, became the first Emirati female to appear on a podium.

Such success does not arrive without certain elements of planning and professionalism. Theban Al Muhairi, the secretary-general of the National Paralympic Committee, said the medal haul is the fruit of four years of focus and preparation. In Rio, rather than enjoying the sights of a beautiful city, the delegation largely spent its days giving each other belief in their own capabilities.

“When I was a child, I thought I cannot do anything, but my mother and father and teacher told me I can do anything I set my mind to,” said Al Senaani, who was born with cerebral palsy. “I listened to them, but I did not believe because I was too young and other people would tell me there are things I cannot do. But when I was 13 or 14 I changed my mindset. Now I know if I train hard I can do anything. Maybe not first time, but I will try again and I will achieve.”

Twenty-five Emirati athletes qualified for Rio, but the country was given a quota of only 18. Al Muhairi arrived with a figure in his head regarding how many medals he would like in order to help increase that quota for Tokyo 2020. Needless to say, the Emirates surpassed it.

“We won three medals in London and the knock-on effect was we had more athletes coming to the clubs,” Al Muhairi said. “Now the hope is that with more medals in Rio, our quota will be increased and we can bring more athletes again and next time across more sports.”

The UAE has more than 1,000 registered para-athletes and while a 2020 roadmap features the traditional shooting, powerlifting and athletics, it now also focuses on fencing and archery. A women’s shooting team is likely to make the trip to Tokyo, while sailing, equestrian and wheelchair basketball are on the radar too.

Later this year, the Gulf Wheelchair Basketball Championships will be held in Dubai, while the International Paralympic Committee will hold its annual General Assembly in Abu Dhabi next September. Abdullah Sultan Al Aryani is under no illusion as to the end goal.

“With Expo 2020, there is a great motivation for the UAE to host other big-scale events,” said the four-time medallist, who formerly sat on the board of a committee tasked with making the Emirates more socially inclusive. “I have a feeling Dubai will bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.”

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The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi’s Arabic Language Centre will mark International Women’s Day at the Bologna Children's Book Fair with the Abu Dhabi Translation Conference. Prolific Emirati author Noora Al Shammari, who has written eight books that feature in the Ministry of Education's curriculum, will appear in a session on Wednesday to discuss the challenges women face in getting their works translated.

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Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
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Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

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COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: ASI (formerly DigestAI)

Started: 2017

Founders: Quddus Pativada

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Artificial intelligence, education technology

Funding: $3 million-plus

Investors: GSV Ventures, Character, Mark Cuban

WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTS WITHIN THE THREE MAJOR CATEGORIES?

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Source: Strategy&

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KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Quick pearls of wisdom

Focus on gratitude: And do so deeply, he says. “Think of one to three things a day that you’re grateful for. It needs to be specific, too, don’t just say ‘air.’ Really think about it. If you’re grateful for, say, what your parents have done for you, that will motivate you to do more for the world.”

Know how to fight: Shetty married his wife, Radhi, three years ago (he met her in a meditation class before he went off and became a monk). He says they’ve had to learn to respect each other’s “fighting styles” – he’s a talk it-out-immediately person, while she needs space to think. “When you’re having an argument, remember, it’s not you against each other. It’s both of you against the problem. When you win, they lose. If you’re on a team you have to win together.” 

Moral education needed in a 'rapidly changing world'

Moral education lessons for young people is needed in a rapidly changing world, the head of the programme said.

Alanood Al Kaabi, head of programmes at the Education Affairs Office of the Crown Price Court - Abu Dhabi, said: "The Crown Price Court is fully behind this initiative and have already seen the curriculum succeed in empowering young people and providing them with the necessary tools to succeed in building the future of the nation at all levels.

"Moral education touches on every aspect and subject that children engage in.

"It is not just limited to science or maths but it is involved in all subjects and it is helping children to adapt to integral moral practises.

"The moral education programme has been designed to develop children holistically in a world being rapidly transformed by technology and globalisation."

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Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

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Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others


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