UAE Ambassador to United States Yousef Al Otaiba Honors Sheikh Zayed’s Vision to Create an Inclusive and Open Society
Washington, DC (3 December 2018) – Today, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Washington, DC celebrated the UAE’s 47th National Day at an event that honored Emirati and American Special Olympics athletes who will compete at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi in March 2019. The National Day event, called ‘A Celebration of Determination,’ vividly embodied the vision of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s founder and first President, to make the world a more inclusive place for all people.
The Special Olympics World Games will be held in the UAE in March 2019. The event will feature more than 7,500 athletes from over 170 countries competing across 24 sports. It will be the first ever Special Olympics World Games to be held in the Middle East and North Africa region.
“Sheikh Zayed believed that the UAE’s development must be guided by human principles of acceptance and mutual respect – regardless of a person’s nationality, gender, religion or ability,” said UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba. “For 50 years, the Special Olympics organization has shared these same values, encouraging respect and dignity for all people.”
American and Emirati Special Olympics athletes attended the UAE Embassy’s National Day event, and were recognized by Ambassador Al Otaiba and other distinguished guests for their efforts to prepare for the upcoming Special Olympics World Games. Tori Martin, from Virginia, and Mubarak Al Darmaki, From Al Ain, spoke to guests about their own journey to be ready to compete at the Special Olympics World Games.
“No matter where the Special Olympics athletes are from, when they take to the gym, track, pool or court to compete in the UAE, they will also be contributing to a legacy of hope for a more inclusive and diverse Middle East region,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba.
Mary Davis, Special Olympics Chief Executive Officer, attended the celebration to show her support for the athletes and highlight the UAE’s leadership to create a more inclusive and hopeful world.
“The UAE is leading the way for inclusion in its region, and that is — as we like to say in sports — a ‘game changer’ for the world,” said Mary Davis.
In the UAE, people with intellectual disabilities are referred to as ‘people of determination,’ and support for them takes many forms. Emirati law guarantees equality and non-discrimination in education, employment and government services. National initiatives include a dedicated job recruitment platform to increase the participation of people of determination in the work force and an officer in every government office assigned to serve and advocate for people of determination.
The UAE is running a pilot of the Special Olympics Unified Schools program in 50 schools, with the ultimate goal of expanding to 100% of schools across the country.