In the presence of H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the UAE Sports Federations on Thursday announced their full support for the upcoming Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 and World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the capital, marking its debut in the history of the MENA region.
A Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signing ceremony was held at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council on Thursday in the presence of Major General Mohammed Khalfan Matar Al Rumaithi, Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police and President of the General Authority of Sport, Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, Chairman of the High Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, as well as senior executives from various sports federations, government institutions and a number of dignitaries.
"We are blessed to be part of this great nation, guided by our wise leadership who constantly encourage us to promote the values of unity, compassion and inclusiveness amongst all members of society. This signing today comes in line with our dedication to humanitarian action, driven by the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan for the UAE to play a leading role in spreading peace and harmony around the world," Al Romaithi said.
"Abu Dhabi hosting this international humanitarian event will undoubtedly empower both the sports sectors in the country and our talented athletes of determination, as it will showcase their talents and skills and highlight the importance of their seamless integration into society."
The MoU outlines the grounds for effective co-operation between the UAE Sports Federations and the Special Olympics, which will include providing services for all sports of Special Olympics, including technical staff and referees, as well as providing full care for athletes coming to Abu Dhabi from 33 different countries for the MENA IX Games and more than 7,000 participants from 170 countries who will attend Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 in March next year.
Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi thanked President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed; H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Major General Al Rumaithi; Abu Dhabi Sports Council directors; Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, and the chairmen of sports federations and government institutions for their support to the games and the people of determination.
"The strategic planning efforts along with the expertise added by the sports federations to the Games will contribute to the rise in levels of excellence from the UAE to reach global levels and become a platform to follow.
"Special Olympics MENA and World Games are the most effective elements in a series of initiatives that Abu Dhabi and the UAE are planning as part of their commitment towards providing more opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities and enhancing their integration in society across the emirate, the state and the region as a whole," Al Junaibi said.
In turn, the Sports Federations expressed their pleasure in participating in the organisation of the largest humanitarian sporting event in the world, stressing their unlimited commitment to make it the most successful Games in the history of Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 will take place from 14th to 21st March, 2018, and more than 1,200 athletes of all abilities will descend on Abu Dhabi to take part in the Games, which will be the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes will take part in 16 different sports that will be hosted in eight different venues ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.
Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights the full integration of people of determination into everyday society. The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most "unified" games in history and promises to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.