Why was Abu Dhabi selected as the host city for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games?
The awarding of the World Games to Abu Dhabi was based on a comprehensive bid proposal, a site visit by the Board Games Site Selection Committee, and the country’s vision to create inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities throughout the UAE, their region and the world.
There’s no better or more profound location than Abu Dhabi to invite the world to come together in celebration of sport, in celebration of people of all kinds, and to demonstrate to the world that the lines of division can be erased.
The World-class venues will provide a stage for Special Olympics athletes to demonstrate their gifts and talents.
What has the UAE government done to support inclusion and rights for people with intellectual disabilities?
Both Abu Dhabi and UAE have made disability a priority and see the Special Olympics World Games as a way to continue to reinforce their commitment to create inclusion and integration. Abu Dhabi has been at the forefront in the Middle East of the protection and promotion of rights for people with intellectual disabilities for more than 20 years and is making huge strides in integrating people with intellectual disabilities into society, especially in schools and the workplace.
Recently, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum announced the national policy for empowering people with special needs, stating that people belonging to this segment will no longer be called people with special needs, but rather “people with determination.” The focus of public policy now emphasizes the integration of “the determined ones” into various cultural, sports and social activities, and the importance of organizing programs and competitions involving this segment has become a priority. A part of this new policy also involves the launch of awareness raising programs targeting all community segments, to help build appreciation for the benefits of inclusion.
We have seen that inclusion and integration of citizens and residents with special needs is a priority for the UAE leadership, backed by legislation and comprehensive support for people with disabilities of all types, and their families. The UAE constitution guarantees the right for persons with disabilities to live in dignity as equal citizens, including the right to work and participate in all aspects of life. Issued in 2006 by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE President, the Federal Law No. (29) of 2006 was the first law in the UAE to protect the rights of people with special needs. There is firm backing of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court as a key stakeholder in the bid. Having strong government support from the host nation for a World Games is critical to not only the success of the Games, but their legacy as well.
How will female athletes be welcome at these Games?
All athletes, no matter the gender, culture, religion, or economic background or ability level will be welcome.
Is it safe to travel to the United Arab Emirates?
Despite unfortunate recent instability and turmoil in the region, the United Arab Emirates is one of the safest countries in the world, ranking second behind Finland in a report from the World Economic Forum released in April 2017.
“It is also one of the most secure destinations (2nd), and has a well-developed hospitality and entertainment infrastructure (27th),” said the report.
What is the official religion in Abu Dhabi?
Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and is widely practised. The Islamic holy day is Friday. Muslims are required to pray (facing Makkah) five times a day. The times vary according to the position of the sun, when the modern day call to prayer is transmitted through loudspeakers on mosque minarets.
The UAE Constitution provides for freedom of religion in accordance with established customs. Abu Dhabi is tolerant of other religions with people being free to practice their religious beliefs. Non-Muslims can get an insight into Islam through complimentary guided tours of the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - one of the world's largest. The tours run at different times during the week.
What should I wear when visiting Abu Dhabi?
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable for most of the year, but something slightly warmer may be needed in winter months. Take a jacket or sweater when visiting hotels or the cinema, as the air conditioning can be fierce.
Although the attitude towards dress is fairly liberal throughout the Emirates, a healthy amount of respect for local customs doesn't go amiss, especially when shopping or sightseeing. Short or tight clothing may be worn, but it will attract attention.
Malls, health clubs and resort facilities are generally more accepting of what's fashionable, but when visiting government offices it is best to cover your shoulders and legs. It is especially recommended that you dress more conservatively during Ramadan.
In the evenings, restaurants and clubs usually have a mix of western, Arabic and Asian styles.
What is the best way to get around the emirate?
Getting around Abu Dhabi is easy and taxis are reasonably priced and plentiful and can be flagged down at the roadside or booked by phone through the TransAD hotline 600 535353.
Street taxis are easily recognised. They are either silver with a yellow roof sign (newer taxis) or white and gold with a green roof sign (older taxis). Both old and new taxis are metered, yet many of the old taxis may negotiate the fare in advance. A tip is not expected but always welcome.
If you want to explore the emirate, your travel agency can organise tours that include transportation to and from the places you would like to visit. Renting a car is also an option for those wanting to travel a lot. To hire any vehicle you will need a passport copy, credit card and a valid driving licence from your home country, or a valid international driving licence.
Otherwise, the bus network that plies the emirate is very efficient. In the capital, modern air-conditioned buses operate round-the-clock. The service is easy to use, with passengers hopping in and out of any bus by placing a one dirham coin in the collection box next to the driver. There are also buses travelling to Al Ain and other parts of the emirate, which can be taken from Abu Dhabi’s Central Bus Station on Murour Road.
What should I do in an emergency?
The emergency phone number for Abu Dhabi Police is 999. Whether you need police assistance, an ambulance or for any other emergency situation, this is the number to call. Calls to this number are free of charge.
When calling the emergency number, please remember to state your name, the nature of the accident, address of the emergency and how serious the situation is.
If you are involved in a traffic accident, it’s important to contact the police immediately. In case of a minor incident, move your car to the side of the road, as there are fines for obstructing traffic. You cannot file an insurance claim without a police report.
For other enquiries, Abu Dhabi Police operates a dedicated Tourism Police section which will advise and guide you on a range of matters. You can contact them on +971 2 699 9999.
Do I need medical insurance cover when I travel to Abu Dhabi?
As per UAE federal law and Abu Dhabi Government law, all visitors to the UAE must have medical insurance cover. In case of emergency, treatment to stabilize the case is free. Other treatment must be covered by a cash payment or insurance card for covered individuals.
In a medical emergency, Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (+971 2 610 2000) and Al Noor Hospital (+971 2 626 5265) both have Accident and Emergency units. If you are injured in a traffic accident, you will automatically be taken to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, as it has the best A&E treatment facilities.
Are hospitals and pharmacies easily accessible in Abu Dhabi?
The Abu Dhabi Government portal provides an updated list of 24-hours opened pharmacies and medical services, including hospitals, clinics, and medical centres in Abu Dhabi. If you don’t have internet access you can call the toll free number 800 555 (+971 2 666 4442).