• HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with 32 Emirati Special Olympics athletes with intellectual difficulties at today’s milestone event.
  • Austrian Chancellor, Christian Kern, attended the event on an official State visit, bringing with him the Special Olympics flag.
  • ADNOC and Etihad Airways announced as official sponsors of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
  • Abu Dhabi set to be the first Middle East host of the flagship global sports and humanitarian event.

UAE, Abu Dhabi, 25 May 2017: His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, today met with dozens of Emirati athletes with intellectual difficulties at the headquarters of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as part of a signing ceremony to announce the sponsors of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

The event coincides with an official state visit by the Austrian Chancellor, Christian Kern, who kicked-off the event and his engagement with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, by bringing the Special Olympics flag to Abu Dhabi, in the final ceremonial handover process of the World Games. In March, His Highness Sheikh Nahyan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council received the Special Olympics flag in Graz during a star-studded Closing Ceremony of the Special Olympics Winter World Games in Austria.

HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan spent time with 32 athletes who represented the UAE in a variety of sports at the Special Olympics Winter World Games in Austria in March of this year, HH and the Austrian Chancellor also took a commemorative photo with the athletes at the event.

HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was joined by HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of Presidential Affairs, HH Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, and HE Jaber Mohammed Ghanem Al Suwaidi, General Director of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi at the momentous event.

Abu Dhabi will become the first city in the Middle East to host the prestigious Special Olympics World Games. The event from 14-21 March 2019 will draw in more than 7,000 athletes from 170 nations, making it the world’s largest sporting and humanitarian event of the year.

Football, swimming, athletics, cycling, golf and powerlifting are amongst the 22 sports that feature over the two weeks of competition and ancillary events, including a Global Policy Summit and Global Youth Summit.

Today’s event featured the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Etihad Airways and ADNOC naming them as the official sponsors of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Group CEO of ADNOC said: “It is a great honor for ADNOC to be an official sponsor and supporter of the Special Olympics, which gives athletes, with intellectual disabilities, the opportunity to demonstrate their athleticism, courage and commitment to excellence in sport, on a global stage. This passion is very much in line with ADNOC’s commitment to youth development and nurturing a performance driven culture which puts an emphasis on delivering results and exceeding expectations.”

His Excellency Mohammed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Chairman of Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We are delighted that Abu Dhabi, the home of Etihad Airways, will be the first city in the Middle East to host the Special Olympics Summer Games.This partnership heralds the core values of tolerance, diversity and youth empowerment that Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways and the Special Olympics share. We are looking forward to welcoming the thousands of athletes, coaches and supporters who will fly with Etihad Airways and experience our renowned world class Arabian hospitality and service.”

His Excellency Mohamad Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Chairman of Etihad Airways, said: “This is a truly remarkable opportunity for Abu Dhabi, and as the national carrier of the UAE, we are immensely proud to be supporting this first for the country and the region. Our partnership with the Special Olympics provides a wonderful platform to connect with people through sports, inclusively, while displaying the warmth and hospitality of the Emirati culture.”

His Excellency Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics World Games, said: “We are incredibly excited and grateful to be working alongside Etihad Airways and ADNOC on this prestigious sporting event. Their support will help ensure we put on a world class show in 2019, as well as allow us to reach even more people with our message of inclusivity, tolerance and philanthropy - three key pillars that will empower not only our athletes, but people of all abilities across the UAE to succeed and improve our society as a whole.”

Two MOUs were signed at ADNOC Headquarters in Abu Dhabi. The first by His Excellency Mohamad Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Chairman of Etihad Airways and the second by His Excellency Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of ADNOC.

Each memorandum was signed on behalf of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 committee by His Excellency Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics World Games, and Peter Wheeler, CEO Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

The Special Olympics World Games is a global event that takes place once every two years catering to athletes with intellectual disabilities. It represents the highlight event of the global Special Olympics movement.

Thousands of overseas visitors are expected to fly into the UAE to watch the action, while Special Olympics’ estimates of 500,000 spectators would make the event the largest ever attended in the UAE capital.

Etihad Airlines will be flying in athletes, equipment, coaches, dignitaries and the media for the occasion, supported by Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management company and Etihad Cargo. Airline staff will be working with the Special Olympics team to share hospitality expertise in order to deliver the best possible guest experience. A wider programme of support and engagement in the lead up, during and after the Special Olympics will be developed by Etihad Airways in the coming months.

As part of ADNOC’s sponsorship it will make available a headquarters building for the local organizing committee, whilst also providing other facilities and services for staff as they work closely with officials in Abu Dhabi to ensure a successful event.

Abu Dhabi’s countdown began in November last year after the Special Olympics International Board of Directors voted unanimously to grant the 2019 World Summer Games to the UAE capital. This followed a comprehensive bid proposal and a site visit by a board committee. The board was particularly impressed by the UAE’s vision to create inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities throughout the UAE and the wider world.

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About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. The Special Olympics World Games take place every two years and alternate between Summer and Winter Games. Special Olympics athletes can compete in 32 Olympic-style summer or winter sports. The athletes are adults and children with intellectual disabilities who can range from gifted world-class competitors to those with limited physical abilities. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified partners in 169 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Toys"R"Us, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line and Safilo Group.

About Etihad Aviation Group
Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) is a diversified global aviation and travel group comprising five business divisions – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways Engineering, Etihad Airport Services, Hala Group and Airline Equity Partners. The group has minority investments in seven airlines: airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, and Swiss-based Darwin Airline, trading as Etihad Regional.

From its Abu Dhabi base, Etihad Airways flies to, or has announced plans to serve, more than 110 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. The airline has a fleet of over 120 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with 204 aircraft on firm order, including 71 Boeing 787s, 25 Boeing 777Xs, 62 Airbus A350s and 10 Airbus A380s. For more information, please visit: etihad.com

ADNOC is a major diversified group of energy and petrochemical companies, that produces around 3 million barrels of oil and 9.8 billion cubic feet of raw gas a day. Its integrated upstream, midstream and downstream activities are carried out by 16 specialist subsidiary and joint venture companies. To find out more visit www.adnoc.ae

For further information, contact media@adnoc.ae