Kamesh Srinivasan

Closing ceremony showcases country's history in all its splendour

DOHA: Alf Layla wa Layla. A thousand and one nights. It was an entertaining evening to entertain the thousands of athletes who had entertained the world over a fortnight by performing with passion and courage at the 15th Asian Games, at the Khalifa Stadium.

It was time to leave the warm sands and cool breeze of Arabia, and Qatar matched its magnificent presentation of the Games and wonderful hospitality by putting up a captivating show as it continued to tell its enchanting stories of wisdom and morals from the famous book, A Thousand and One Nights. Some of those stories are believed to have come from India and Persia..

The closing ceremony ran the stories in a spectacular fashion as modern technology extended a helping hand to match the imagination of the forefathers who had told the stories many centuries ago.

Spectacular

After Scheherazade flew into the stadium on a crescent moon, the characters of Haroun Al-Rashid, Ali Baba, Sindbad and Aladdin were recreated in a magical fashion, taking everyone, including the billions watching on television, to a fantasy world.

There was classical music and dance, recapturing the past, and there was also the dance of light. History was presented in all its splendour. There was whirling dance and there was the song, `Land of the oryx,' as the athletes entered the stadium in a mix, symbolising the bondage and unity.

The astrolabe, the star grasper capturing the Arab heritage of science, technology and quest for knowledge, began from where it had left in the Opening Ceremony to emphasise its stature as the first computer and the most important scientific invention till the 15th century.

As the camels, horses and the Bedouin families circled the desert and set up a camp for the night, the giant cauldron, standing majestically over the Khalifa Stadium cooled off, as if the sun was setting on the Asian Games. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) flag was passed on to the Mayor of Guangzhou, for the next Asian Games to be staged in 2010.

The people of Guangzhou presented a cultural programme, the Charm of the Orient, squeezing the essence of Chinese culture.

"Thank you Qatar and thank you athletes of Asia. See you all in Guangzhou," said the president of the OCA, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

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