Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Special Olympics UAE (SO UAE) was re-established as an independent association, appointing H.H Sheikha Maryam Bint Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as Honorary Chair of Special Olympics UAE, and H.E Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth, as Chair of the Special Olympics UAE Board.
Special Olympics UAE (SO UAE) is a separate entity from the Local Organizing Committee that is in charge of organizing the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
The organization was founded in 1990, dedicated to serving athletes with intellectual disabilities through sports competition. SO UAE provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. This initiative enabled the UAE athletes to compete in the Special Olympics MENA Games and the upcoming World Games.
Since the 1990s, Special Olympics UAE has participated in twelve MENA and World Games and has more than 5,000 registered athletes and Unified partners, in addition to more than 300 coaches.
In 2017, UAE athletes competed in more than 70 events. Over the years, Special Olympics UAE has taken part in – and hosted – numerous significant events, internationally and regionally.