ABU DHABI, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, witnessed on Monday the signing of an agreement to host the Special Olympics 2019 in Abu Dhabi.

The ceremony, held at Al Bahr Palace, made Abu Dhabi the first city in the Middle East and North Africa to host the Special Olympics.

Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics; Mary Davis, the Chief Executive Officer of the Special Olympics and Athlete Matthew Williams, Member of the Board of the Special Olympics, represented the Special Olympics during the signing ceremony.

Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, Chairman of the High Committee for Abu Dhabi hosting the Special Olympics and Majid Al Usaimi, National Director, Special Olympics UAE, also signed the agreement on behalf of the UAE. Nada Al Mazrouei, a member of the national team for the Special Olympics, signed as a witness.

The ceremony was attended by 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 President of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council; H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the National Olympic Committee and President of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Athletic Excellence, and Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed welcomed the guests and congratulated them on the signing of the agreement. He also wished them good luck and success. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed praised the hard work and co-operation among different authorities in the country to host the Special Olympics 2019.

Dr. Shriver said that the Special Olympics World Games was much more than a sporting event, but a movement that championed the rights and inclusion for people with disabilities.

"They come from every culture, every race, every religion, every geography, and every family. They will come to here to Abu Dhabi representing every culture in the world, not the rich and the mighty, but the vulnerable, perhaps the poor, but also the rich in spirit," he said.

While praising the UAE, Dr. Shriver that the country was a fitting host nation for the Games as it represented all of the ideals held by the Games.

Al Junaibi said the UAE has strengthened its position in regard to the integration of individuals with disabilities in the community through the provision of all aspects of support for them to participate actively in the social development.

A number of officials, dignitaries and a delegation representing the Special Olympics also attended the event, including members of the International Special Olympics Board of Directors.

Source: Emirates News Agency