Over 20,000 people have registered to volunteer at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and help stage what will be the biggest sports and humanitarian event of the year.

The World Games’ volunteer program is the largest volunteer program in the UAE, to date, and will see thousands of people from across the UAE and around the world, work alongside People of Determination to host the most unified Games in the 50-year history of the Special Olympics movement.

Emiratis are fully behind the movement, with over 40 per cent of registered volunteers being UAE nationals. Indian and Egyptian nationals are the second and third most popular nationalities, respectively, to register.

Additionally, more than half (54 per cent) of those who have registered to volunteer are female, a significant figure considering that the World Games will also feature a record breaking number of female athletes (more than 3,200).

Over 3,000 volunteers will help run the region’s biggest cultural exchange program ahead of the Games. The Host Town Program is the first milestone for the delegations and athletes upon arrival in the UAE for the World Games. The Host Two volunteers will work closely with the organizing committees of each emirate to deliver the Program from 8 – 11 March. The Host Town Program aims to engage local communities with the Special Olympics movement across the UAE and create a legacy of long-term positive change for People of Determination.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see over 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations compete from14 – 21 March.

The volunteers will play an integral role during Games-time and in the run up to the Games, undertaking various roles across nine different operational areas including operations, event management, translation, communications, transportation, guest services, sports and technology.

Among the volunteers will be 3,000 people who assisted during Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi. Serving as ‘Pioneers’, they will form the core of the volunteering team and serve as ambassadors and advocates for Special World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Their roles will include engaging with the athletes and promoting the Special Olympics values of inclusion and unity throughout the UAE.

Ameera Al Muharrami, Director of Volunteers at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said: “We are thrilled to hit our ambitious target of 20,000 people to volunteer at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. There has been a great response from people of different nationalities and ages, and this shows how much the spirit of volunteerism has spread across the nation.

“The support of each and every volunteer is invaluable in ensuring the success of the Games. Their participation will help change perceptions of People of Determination, as well as set the standard for inclusivity, not just in the UAE, but globally. It promises to be an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.”

Ahmed Al Bulooshi, who volunteered at Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018, is looking forward to working at the World Games, he said: “Volunteering at IX MENA Games last year was a life-changing experience and one which I will never forget.

“I am thoroughly looking forward to showing my support once again and helping to create and more unified society for all People of Determination.”