Bye bye Doha see you all in Beirut

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, ARAB GMAES

QATAR’S biggest multi-sports spectacle since the 2006 Doha Asian Games came to a befitting end last week at the Al Sadd Stadium, with colourful fireworks giving thousands of competitors a symbolic send-off.

Bahrain beat Jordan in the football final, which was the last event of the 12th edition of the quadrennial extravaganza.

The Heir Apparent HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani crowned the medal winners in football as Qatar once again excelled on the sports field and organisational front in the Arab world’s biggest sports event.

Egypt emerged as runaway winners overall while the hosts came up with their best-ever performance in the Games history. Qatar finished fourth with 32 gold, 38 silver and 40 bronze medals.

The Games held at the time of political unrest in some Arab countries and Qatar was the cynosure of all eyes. But as is its wont, the country organised a standout and incident-free Games in which competitors from 21 countries put their best foot forward in 14 days of high action and drama.

Following the success of last January’s Asian Cup and last year’s World Indoor Athletics Championships, the Arab Games will go a long way in establishing Doha’s growing global clout as a major sports hub.

Qatar is bidding to host the Middle East’s first Olympic Games in ’20 and the Arab event’s success, other than the support offered by the National Olympic Committees, should greatly help the cause.

Special Advisor to HH the Emir HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairman of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah and Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani were among the dignitaries present at the ceremony, which was embedded in tradition.

As Union of Arab National Olympic Committee President Prince Nawaf bin Faisal bin Fahd Al Saud handed over the Arab Games flag to ’15 host nation Lebanon, which was represented by Sports and Youth Minister Faisal Karameh, Qatar was basking in the glory of having organised a memorable event which came to the Gulf region for the first time since its inception in 1953.

Iraqi singer Kadim Al Sahir entertained the evening crowd with his mellifluous piece of music as he rendered a composition, which highlighted the role that sports plays in uniting countries.

As big screen showed the last glow of the Games torch at the Khalifa International Stadium, a sense of eerie calm prevailed all over the Sadd Stadium, as the crowd had more or less reconciled to the fact that it was time to say goodbye to Doha and welcome Beirut.

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