• Special Olympics UAE has signed an MoU with Zayed University to act as a training venue for volunteers
  • Zayed University will also introduce Special Olympics into its curriculum as part of the agreement
  • HE Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi and Olympic World Champion Allyson Felix called on all students to sign up as volunteers for the Games
  • 23,000 volunteers in total are needed for both Special Olympics IX MENA Games and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

UAE, 15th November 2017: Special Olympics UAE and the local organising committee today held an event in partnership with Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, to announce the venue as a partner for the upcoming Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

Zayed University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Special Olympics UAE to act as a training venue for the Games’ volunteer programme. The university will pay a major part in helping to source volunteers via its student body and assisting in the training of volunteers. As part of the agreement, Zayed University will also introduce several Special Olympics themed syllabuses as part of the university curriculum.

As part of the event, Olympic World champion, Allyson Felix, who is currently in the UAE on behalf of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, gave a speech encouraging students to sign up and get involved as volunteers at the Games.

Allyson was recently challenged by NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, to coach Special Olympics sprinters for the upcoming Games and attended a Special Olympics takeover at TrainYAS last night to coach dozens of Special Olympics athletes.

H.E Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, President of Zayed University, expressed gratitude for hosting the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi, placing the capital as the first city in the Middle East and North Africa to organize this major international event, which is dedicated to those with intellectual disabilities. “Naming them People of Determination translates our wise leadership's vision towards their capabilities. Many People of Determination grasp special talents and the key to becoming innovators in various fields. We’re proud to note numerous names that shined in culture and art exhibitions. It is important to encourage competition amongst People of Determination, increase their capabilities and enhance their self-confidence.”

Professor Reyadh Almehaideb, Vice President of Zayed University, said: “Under the wise leadership of HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and HH Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates has firmly established itself as a role model for tolerance, inclusion and a leader in the fight against all forms of discrimination. To further strengthen the UAE’s commitment to create a better and happier society, HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed dedicated 2017 as “the Year of Giving” with one of the major themes being “promoting the spirit of volunteerism”. What better way to promote the year of giving than by supporting Special Olympics MENA Games in 2018 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. These Games are the world’s largest international sporting event for people with intellectual disabilities with over 7,000 athletes from 170 countries competing before an audience of 500,000 spectators.”

3,000 volunteers are needed to support at the MENA Games in Abu Dhabi as part of the biggest humanitarian volunteer programme to date in the UAE. The MENA Games will take place from 14 - 23 March 2018 and over 1,200 athletes of all abilities will descend upon Abu Dhabi to take part in the 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 in seven venues across Abu Dhabi.

The MENA Games and World Games are a part of the UAE’s National Vision 2021 that highlights full integration of people with disabilities into everyday society. The World Games will take place from 14 – 21 March 2019 and require 20,000 volunteers.

Volunteers must be at least 14-years old and commit to a minimum of three days during the Games. All volunteers will be required to attend 16-hours of training ahead of the Games and there will be opportunities for those with and without intellectual disabilities to get involved.

To register to volunteer, visit: http://www.abudhabi2019.org/volunteers

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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 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, 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.