The late Princess Lalla Amina was instrumental in supporting the activities of Morocco's Special Olympics team

01 March 2018, Abu Dhabi: Morocco has confirmed that a total of 28 athletes will represent the country at Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi.

The athletes, consisting of 18 male and 10 female, will make up the bulk of a 45-strong delegation. They will compete across nine sports which are: athletics, swimming, tennis, volleyball, bocci, equestrian, weight lifting, table tennis, and skating. . IX MENA Games takes place from March 17 - 22 in Abu Dhabi.

Established in 1994, the Moroccan Special Olympics programme includes 11,850 athletes. The late Princess Lalla Amina was instrumental in supporting the activities of Morocco's Special Olympics, from the hosting of the second Regional Games in 2000 in Rabat to the 2010 World Strategic Conference.

Sharifa Lalla Sumaya Al Wazzani, President of the Moroccan Special Olympics, highlighted the role of Special Olympics in improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing them with opportunities to develop their physical fitness and to highlight their talents and skills.

"The 9th Special Olympics for the Middle East and North Africa region, held this year in Abu Dhabi with the special support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will be a great event for our athletes to showcase their skills and abilities and to develop them.” Wazzani said.

“It also provides a platform for people with intellectual disabilities to interact with the community, which will enable them to gain self-confidence and facilitate their integration.”

Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people of determination into everyday society. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promise to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

More than 1,000 athletes from 31 countries will travel to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which will be the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes will take part in 16 different sports that will be hosted in eight different venues including ADNEC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYUAD, Officer’s Club, Mubadala IPC Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and Al Forsan Club.

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will see the biggest humanitarian sporting event in the world coming to the Emirati Capital, marking its first debut in the history of the MENA region.

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About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, scheduled for March 8-22, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world, with 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing more than 170 countries. The World Games will be an unprecedented display of the spirit, joy, courage and skill that are hallmarks of Special Olympics movement. The largest single event ever held in the United Arab Emirates (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 while being 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 competition 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. Plans for operation of the World Games include leaving a legacy of improved health, education, and inclusion that will benefit the UAE long after the event is over.