The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, in partnership with the Ministry of Community Development has announced the launch of the ‘Host Town Programme’ across all seven emirates of the UAE.
The initiative is organised by the LOC of Special Olympics Abu Dhabi and aims to enhance ties with both private and government entities in all seven emirates to promote awareness about people of determination and encourage their inclusion into everyday society.
Her Excellency Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, expressed her deep appreciation for the support provided by the officials in the seven emirates.
"It is a great opportunity to host the world's largest humanitarian sports event in Abu Dhabi. This reflects our values and efforts to promote the integration of people of determination into the community and is a reflection of the UAE's efforts to support global trends addressing the difficulties they face in their lives. We hope to change perceptions of people of determination and show that they can excel in many aspects of life through sports", Her Excellency said.
Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, thanked all the supporters and organisers of the initiative and commended the efforts of Her Excellency Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid in coordinating all stakeholders to support the ‘Host Town Programme’. The new initiative aims to give athletes participating in Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 the opportunity to learn more about UAE culture, customs and traditions.
"The Host Town Programme reflects the hospitality and values of the Emirati nation and we look forward to providing the opportunity for all participants and their families to learn more about the true essence of the UAE and its supreme values of unity, tolerance and co-existence. In addition to promoting solidarity amongst all members of society", Al Junaibi said.
The programme will host delegations of athletes, their coaches and families, and allow them to experience the rich culture and history of the UAE ahead of their participation in Special Olympics IX MENA Games, which will take place from 14 to 21 March 2018 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. The Host Town Programme will include visits to tourist sites across the seven emirates of the UAE in addition to providing workshops and speaker opportunities for athletes to share their stories with students.
Over 160 athletes with intellectual disabilities from countries including Burkina Faso, Cote’ Ivoire, Canada, Serendib, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Macau, Chinese Taipei, Monaco, Belgium, Russia and Austria will visit one of the seven emirates to live, eat, and breathe true Emirati life.
Abu Dhabi will be the first city ever to host both the MENA and World Games within a year of each another. Over 1,200 athletes of all abilities will descend upon Abu Dhabi from 14 to 22 March this year to take part in Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018. Athletes will participate in 16 sports, which will be hosted in eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.
The MENA Games and World Games are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights the full integration of people with disabilities into society. The Games will be the most ‘unified’ in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics is unique to every other Olympic Games and is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). To be eligible to participate in Special Olympics, athletes must have an intellectual disability; a cognitive delay, or a development disability, that is, functional limitations in both general learning and adaptive skills (they may also have a physical disability).