ABU DHABI, Special Olympics UAE announced that Abu Dhabi will host the first-ever Special Olympics UAE Games from 19th-22nd March, this year.

The announcement was made by Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Special Olympics UAE Chair; Nasser Ismail, Assistant Under-Secretary for Social Welfare Affairs at the Ministry of Community Development; Aref Al-Awani, Secretary-General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, and Talal Al Hashemi, Executive Director of Special Olympics UAE, at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

More than 650 athletes with intellectual disabilities from across the UAE will participate in these games, which will feature six different sports, including basketball, athletics, volleyball, badminton, swimming and powerlifting, and will see the hundreds of UAE nationals and residents who make up the UAE team going head-to-head against each other for three days of competition at the New York University Abu Dhabi.

An opening ceremony will take place on 19th March to officially open the games, with three days of competition taking place on 20th, 21st and 22nd March under the theme, We are all one.

The UAE Games will also see the Healthy Athletes programme revisit Abu Dhabi from 20th and 22nd March, a Special Olympics programme that will provide free health examinations for all athletes competing in the games.

As part of the celebrations leading up to the UAE Games, the Special Olympics Flame of Hope will tour Abu Dhabi on 14th March. The programme will also include an event for young athletes aged 2 to 7 years with and without intellectual disabilities.

An Inclusive Art Gallery will be organised to display artworks created by athletes with intellectual disabilities, accompanied by a number of artists and individuals concerned.

Shamma Al Mazrui said, The recent World Games marked a turning point for People of Determination with intellectual disabilities across the UAE and the UAE Games will build on this by serving as an annual milestone for the expansion of the UAE's commitment towards social inclusion and the empowerment of People of Determination.

The UAE has made inclusivity a priority within its National Vision 2021. The term People of Determination was introduced in 2017 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, as part of a new National Strategy for Empowering People with Disabilities. Many initiatives to support People of Determination have also been implemented in the UAE at the local and federal levels.

Last year, the UAE hosted the largest and most unified Special Olympics World Games in the history of Special Olympics, with over 7,500 athletes representing more than 190 nations and the inclusion of People of Determination with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event.

Source: Emirates News Agency