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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Special Olympics officials meet ahead of 2019 World Games

Lord Sebastian Coe meets Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, and others

Noura Al Kaabi, centre, with Lord Sebastian Coe, centre left, and other Special Olympics sponsors and officials at a summit in Abu Dhabi on October 5, 2017.
Noura Al Kaabi, centre, with Lord Sebastian Coe, centre left, and other Special Olympics sponsors and officials at a summit in Abu Dhabi on October 5, 2017.

Special Olympics International officials met in Abu Dhabi on Thursday at a partner summit to prepare for the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

Games partners and sponsors were invited to collaborate with UAE officials to ensure the event provides long-lasting legacy and full integration for people with intellectual disabilities.

Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, said the Special Olympics is much more than a single sports competition.

"The organisation serves almost five million athletes all over the world," she said.

"Recognising the potential in every person with determination, the UAE has made huge strides in integrating our fellow nationals and residents into society, especially in schools and the workplace.

"The Special Olympics has inspired a change in the way the world views and understands the critical need for greater inclusion.

"In 2019, the world will see these stories unfold on a global stage, set right here in Abu Dhabi."

A number of speakers at the summit, including Lord Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and Mohammed Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics, talked about the role a major sporting event plays and can provide a catalyst for change for future generations.

“The people of Abu Dhabi with their hospitality and diversity represent the Olympic Games values of respect and appreciation of people of all abilities,” Mr Al Junaibi said.

“We look forward to hosting this event, and we are incredibly grateful to be working with so many international and local organisations and companies; their support will ensure the success of the Games by allowing us to reach people from all over the world and spread our message of harmony and tolerance.”

Other speakers included Saif Ghobash, the Director General of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Dr Ali bin Tamim, Director General of Abu Dhabi Media, and Mary Davis, chief executive of Special Olympics International.

“The vision of Abu Dhabi and the sponsors and partners who are backing the Special Olympics fits perfectly with our vision of inclusion and embracing diversity throughout society," said Ms Davis.

"There are so many ways our partners can get involved in Special Olympics and help to bring people with intellectual disabilities into their organisations.

"We cannot wait to work with them on implementing various initiatives in the near future.”

The Special Olympic Games takes place every two years. Abu Dhabi will become the first city in the Middle East to host the event, which is set to draw in more than 7,000 athletes from 170 countries.

Athletes compete in 22 sports; including athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, cycling, equestrian, football, gymnastics, handball, power-lifting, table tennis, tennis, roller skating, and volleyball.

Official partners for Special Olympics World Games 2019, including Adnoc, Adnec, Abu Dhabi Media, The Coca-Cola Company, Etihad Airlines, Lulu’s Hyper Market, Mubadala Investment Company, Deloitte, Education First, Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Lions Clubs International, Al Maskari Holding, New York University Abu Dhabi, Sedra Foundation, VPS Health Care, Yas Marina Circuit, and Zayed University Abu Dhabi.