• Citizens of the UAE are encouraged to start the New Year with a pledge to volunteer for the upcoming Special Olympics IX MENA Games in Abu Dhabi 2018, in association with the Year of Zayed
  • 3,000 volunteers are needed to support at the Games as part of the biggest humanitarian volunteer programme to date in the UAE
  • Potential volunteers can now register via the www.abudhabi2019.org/en/volunteers platform

UAE, 2nd January 2018, the Year of Zayed, was welcomed in with style at the famous Al Maryah New Year celebrations in Abu Dhabi, as patrons were encouraged to start 2018 with a pledge to help by registering to volunteer for the Special Olympics IX Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Games 2018 and the Abu Dhabi World Games 2019.

Alongside the spectacular fireworks and celebrations to welcome in the New Year, the Special Olympics World Games team were at Al Maryah Island to educate people about the upcoming Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 and Abu Dhabi World Games 2019.

The volunteer programme, which is supported by the Ministry of Community Development and Emirates Foundation, allows volunteers to play a major role in one the world’s biggest events to help transform the lives of thousands of individuals and families by launching a new era of inclusion, hope and understanding. Alongside the practical skills, volunteers will be making a difference by helping the athletes to compete, by interacting with them and seeing the courage and joy they bring to the playing field.

His Excellency Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, said: “We launched our volunteer programme in November and are always looking for new ways to engage with and educate people into volunteering. The New Year often brings resolutions and pledges to change or help others, and we hope by having this presence at Al Maryah, we have signed up even more volunteers for the Special Olympics Games. With 2018 being the ‘Year of Zayed’, a great and noble man who encouraged respect, determination and a sense a of belonging to the nation, this echoes the key foundations of the Special Olympics, and we’re hoping this too will lead more and more volunteers to sign up and get involved.

“We need over 3,000 volunteers and we’re confident that the values and generosity of the people of the UAE will help us reach that target. The volunteers will not only play an invaluable role in one of the world’s most inspiring events, but will also help transform the lives of athletes and their families.”

The MENA Games will take place from 17 - 22 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 the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Athletes will take part in 16 different sports in seven venues across Abu Dhabi. Three thousand people will be needed to take part as volunteers during the MENA Games from 17 - 22 March 2018.

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. Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will be the most ‘unified’ games in history and promises to offer an inclusive experience for those with and without intellectual disabilities.

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

- ENDS -

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.