Seven works, representing the seven Emirates and seven regions participating at the Special Olympics World Games, to be chosen from an open call to artists featured at Abu Dhabi Art

26 April 2018, Abu Dhabi: The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, today announced a partnership to commission permanent public art for the city. The works will be created by globally recognised artists in collaboration with people of determination and will commemorate next year’s Special Olympics World Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi. The commissioning of artists will be led by Abu Dhabi Art in collaboration with the local organising committee for Special Olympics World Games. A Selection Committee made up of key stakeholders will be tasked with awarding the final commissions from the proposals submitted through Abu Dhabi Art.

Abu Dhabi Art will issue an open call to galleries participating in the annual exhibition, and all artists represented at Abu Dhabi Art will be allowed to submit proposals to be considered for the commission. Seven works in total will be selected and will be displayed permanently at A’l Bahar, a 600-metre redeveloped strip along the Abu Dhabi Corniche. One or more of the pieces will also be reproduced in other emirates through a partnership with the Ministry of Community Development.

This announcement, made at the signing of an MoU and in the presence of His Excellency Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Special Olympics Higher Committee and His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi, champions the inclusive sprit embodied by the Games.

“Next March, Abu Dhabi will host the biggest sports and humanitarian event of the year, bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities from all corners of the world” said H.E Mohamad Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Special Olympics Higher Committee. “Unified initiatives are at the heart of the Special Olympics movement and we are delighted to be involved with these public art commissions. We look forward to working with more of our partners on future collaborations that will help commemorate the Special Olympic World Games, Abu Dhabi 2019”

“We are honoured to begin this partnership with Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi,” HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi said. “These commissions will represent the inclusion, acceptance, and dignity we both encourage and aim to live by in our great nation and echo the vision of our Founding Father: respect, unity, and fostering a sense of belonging for all.”

The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will run from March 8-22. Over 7,000 athletes competing in 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports will be joined by more than 3,000 coaches representing 170 countries. It will be the largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa.

“Abu Dhabi Art looks forward to working closely with our galleries and artists on this exciting project,” Dyala Nusseibeh, Abu Dhabi Art’s Director said. “We are confident that the winning proposals will result in iconic works created for the city, celebrating this important event and creating a social space for diverse communities to enjoy in years to come.”

“One of the key objectives of the Legacy program of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi is to change societal perceptions towards people with intellectual disabilities, and to bring their talents and their plight to the light. We believe this project will add great value to an already popular public space, by celebrating and commemorating inclusion,” Tala Al Ramahi, Chief Strategy Officer for the Special Olympics World Games said.

To keep up-to-date on Abu Dhabi Art’s year-long programme, visit and follow Abu Dhabi Art on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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About The Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi (DCT-Abu Dhabi)
The Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of the emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction that enriches the lives of visitors and residents. The Department manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets Abu Dhabi internationally through activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans, and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. DCT-Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities that nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage.

About Abu Dhabi Art
Abu Dhabi Art expands beyond the notion of a traditional art fair, placing a strong emphasis on its diverse public engagement programme, including art installations, exhibitions, talks, and events, which take place in different locations throughout the year. The culmination of this yearlong programme is in November’s Abu Dhabi Art event, which provides participating galleries a sales platform and an opportunity to showcase ambitious installations and site-specific works to an audience of over 20,000.

About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage, and skill that are hallmarks of the Special Olympics movement. The largest single event ever held in the UAE and the first Special Olympics World Games in the Middle East and North Africa, the World Games features 24 officially sanctioned Olympic-style sports in venues throughout Abu Dhabi. The spectacular Opening Ceremony on March 14 is expected to attract 45,000 spectators and will be viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 2019 World Games will be the most unified Special Olympics in history, with inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in every aspect of the event. The Games are the most visible component of a planned series of initiatives by Abu Dhabi and the UAE to expand opportunity for people with disabilities, and to promote inclusion and understanding throughout the emirate, nation, and region. The World Games will leave a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.

About the Special Olympics movement
The first Special Olympics were the culmination of a passion project of Eunice Shriver, President John F. Kennedy’s sister, who spearheaded the campaign to promote physical exercise for those with intellectual disabilities as her own sister, Rosemary, was born with such a disability. Researchers in the United Kingdom and Canada discovered during the 1960s that sports, in fact, boosted the educational performance of students with intellectual disabilities. And so, in 1968, 1,000 athletes convened in Chicago and competed in the very first Special Olympics. The movement has spread, not only in numbers — an estimated 4.7-million athletes from 169 countries now train in almost 100,000 events per year — but in scope — health screenings are now part of every Special Olympics, and campaigns such as Spread the Word to End the Word have been successful at changing hurtful language to people of determination.

Media Contact:
Aamna Iqbal
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