Over 160 athletes with intellectual disabilities will visit the UAE to experience Emirati culture ahead of the regional Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi.
Coming from countries including Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Canada, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei, Monaco, Belgium, Russia and Austria, the athletes will be visiting one of the seven emirates beginning next month – a few days ahead of the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 and a year ahead of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
The Host Town Programme will include visits to tourist sites across the seven emirates of the UAE, in addition to providing workshops and speaker opportunities for athletes to share their stories with students.
Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development said: "It is a great opportunity to host the world's largest humanitarian sports event in Abu Dhabi. This reflects our values and efforts to promote the integration of people of determination into the community and is a reflection of the UAE's efforts to support global trends addressing the difficulties they face in their lives. We hope to change perceptions of people of determination and show that they can excel in many aspects of life through sports."
The Host Town Programme is an initiative by the organising committee of the two events to promote awareness about people of determination and encourage their inclusion into everyday society.
Mohamad Abdulla Al Junaibi, chairman of the organising committee, said that the new initiative aims to give athletes the opportunity to learn more about UAE culture, customs and traditions.
"The Host Town Programme reflects the hospitality and values of the Emirati nation and we look forward to providing the opportunity for all participants and their families to learn more about the true essence of the UAE and its supreme values of unity, tolerance and co-existence. In addition to promoting solidarity amongst all members of society", Al Junaibi said.
More than 1,200 athletes of all abilities will be in the UAE capital to take part in the regional games.
Athletes will participate in 16 sports, which will be hosted in eight different venues including Adnec, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, NYU AD, the Armed Forces Officers Club, the Mubadala Ipic Arena, Al Jazira Sports Club and the Al Forsan International Sports Resort.
The World Games will be the largest single event held in the UAE.