Abu Dhabi, UAE 05 October 2017: Special Olympics International officials and representatives from major global and local organisations met today in Abu Dhabi at the Special Olympics Partner Summit to prepare for the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

Official partners and sponsors for the Special Olympic World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 were invited to the summit to define the best means of collaborations between the Special Olympics committee and local partners to ensure long-lasting impact and full integration for people with intellectual disabilities in the community.

Since His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces received the Special Olympics flag, preparations in the capital to host the Special Olympics World Games 2019 have been in full flow. Hosting the games in Abu Dhabi is a great opportunity for government organisations and private institutions to contribute to an event that will resonate with people across the world.

A number of speeches took place at the summit from speakers including H.E. Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics, H.E. Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, H.E. Saif Saeed Ghobash, the Director General of the Department of Culture and Tourism, H.E. Dr. Ali bin Tamim, Director General of Abu Dhabi Media, H.E. Fahad Al Neyadi, Director General of the General Secretariat of the Executives Council, The Right Honorable Lord Sebastian Coe, KBE, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Yaqoub Al Saadi, Director of Programmes at Abu Dhabi Sports, Taghrid Fawzi Alsaeed, Senior Vice President - Head of Digital and Research, Mubadala Development Company, Tania Devereux, Commercial Director for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, were joined by Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics International at the Inaugural Partners Summit in Abu Dhabi.

2019 partner summit

Speakers talked about the important role that Special Olympics plays within the community and how such events bring people together, providing a catalyst for change for future generations.

Official sponsors for Special Olympics World Games 2019, including ADNOC, ADNEC, Abu Dhabi Media, The Coca-Cola Company, Etihad Airlines, Lulu’s Hyper Market, Mubadala Development Company, Deloitte, Education First, Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Lions Clubs International, Al Maskari Holding, New York Abu Dhabi University, Sedra Foundation, VPS Health Care, Yas Marina Circuit, and Zayed University Abu Dhabi, joined the Partners Summit.

“The people of Abu Dhabi with their hospitality and diversity represent the Olympic Games values of respect and appreciation of people of all abilities,” said H.E. Mohammed Abdullah Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics. “We look forward to hosting this event, and we are incredibly grateful to be working with so many international and local organisations and companies; their support will ensure the success of the Games as it allows us to reach people from all over the wold and spread our message of harmony and tolerance.”

“We are proud of our identity and trust in our ability to achieve our dream regardless of the challenges we face. In the UAE, we work to foster a community built on the highest standards of justice and understanding, and appreciate the value of all people from the world.”

H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs, Chair of Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi Two Four 54 and Chair of the Media and Marketing Committee for the Special Olympics World Games, said: “Special Olympics is much more than a single sports competition. The organization serves almost five million athletes all over the world. Recognizing the potential in every person with determination, the UAE has made huge strides in integrating our fellow nationals and residents into society, especially in schools and the workplace. The Special Olympics has really inspired a change in the way the world views and understands the critical need for greater inclusion. And in 2019, the world will see these stories unfold on a global stage, set right here in Abu Dhabi.

Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics International, said: “It is hugely important for the government and communities to recognise the value in including people from all walks of life in everything they do. The vision of Abu Dhabi and the sponsors and partners who are backing the Special Olympics fits perfectly with our vision of inclusion and embracing diversity throughout society. There are so many ways our partners can get involved in Special Olympics and help to bring people with intellectual disabilities into their organisations and we cannot wait to work with them on implementing various initiatives in the near future.”

Higher Committee of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 previously signed an MoU with ADNOC and Etihad Airlines as the official sponsors of the event.

As a part of the MoU, ADNOC’s headquarters will offer support services and host offices for the Special Olympics staff, as they work together with organisers and other bodies to ensure the success of the Games.

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.

The Special Olympic Games is a global event organised every two years for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Abu Dhabi will become the first city in the Middle East to host the prestigious Special Olympics World Games, which is set to draw in more than 7,000 athletes from 170 nations, making it the world’s largest sporting and humanitarian event of the year.

During the World Games, athletes will compete in 22 sports, including athletics, aquatics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, cycling, equestrian, football, gymnastics, handball, powerlifting, table tennis, tennis, roller skating, and volleyball.

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About the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi (AD2019)
The 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, scheduled for March 14-21, 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 the 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, 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.