All India: The Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) is organising the Host Town Programme, the largest-ever cultural exchange event to take place in the Middle East, prior to the launch of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Held for the very first time in the MENA region, the World Games 2019 will be the largest sports and humanitarian event this year; a global movement that focuses on the empowerment of People of Determination through the power of sport.
“The Special Olympics World Games is a unique event of great significance, and we are proud to be bringing it to the region for the first time,” said HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary at DCT Abu Dhabi. “Abu Dhabi has established itself as a hub for world-class, high-profile global events, and the Special Olympics has a particular resonance, being an integral part of realising DCT Abu Dhabi’s mission of expanding opportunities for people of determination, in line with the UAE’s vision of a unified and inclusive society.”
Ghobash, who also sits on the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi Committee, added, “We are incredibly honoured to be hosting these inspiring athletes, and hope that they enjoy the world-class attractions, unique culture, and stunning natural beauty of Abu Dhabi. I am very much looking forward to watching and being inspired by the Games.”
The Host Town Programme has been an integral part of past Special Olympics World Games events, and this edition will pair individual delegations from each participating country with a town or city from one of the UAE‘s seven emirates, providing athletes, delegates and family members from around the world with an opportunity to enjoy the culture and hospitality of the UAE over the days leading up to the Games. DCT Abu Dhabi is also organising a tour of the UAE capital’s attractions for the participating athletes in Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, which will take place at venues across Abu Dhabi and Dubai from March 14 – 21.
The special itinerary crafted for the athletes features visits to six landmark sites and attractions, including Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques with a capacity for an impressive 40,000 worshippers. It features the world’s largest hand knotted carpet, and in the main prayer hall, one of the world’s largest chandeliers.
Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village, a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village, will provide a fascinating glimpse into the emirate’s past while the athletes will also make a stop at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, home to 29 state-of-the-art thrill rides and attractions, and enjoy the exotic animals on display at the Emirates Park Zoo.
Also included on the tour is landmark museum Louvre Abu Dhabi, the region’s first ‘universal museum’, and the newly-opened Al Hosn cultural site, where athletes can learn about the history of the emirate at the historic Qasr Al Hosn fort, and enjoy contemporary art at the Cultural Foundation. In Al Ain athletes will visit Al Ain Zoo, Hili Fun City and UAE University.
The athletes will also be visiting schools throughout their tour, as part of the ‘Adopt a Nation’ programme. The programme has paired schools across the emirate with countries participating in the Special Olympics, providing a platform to engage students with the Games by promoting the study of the values and cultures of the competing nations.
This Abu Dhabi edition will feature 7,500 athletes competing in 24 sports categories, with record-breaking participation from 192 countries, making these Games the most unified ever in the 50-year history of the Special Olympics.