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Special Olympics

On 14 March, The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will commence, and the excitement is building already. Yalla breaks down the event, so you can know before you go!

The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are almost upon us. In March, Abu Dhabi will be host to an event which will draw over 7,500 athletes from over 192 nations. The mission of Special Olympics is to enrich the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, through the joy of sports, and Abu Dhabi is thrilled to host them.

Commenting on the upcoming event, H.E. Mohammed Bin Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said, “Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi will be the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world in 2019. It is clear that excitement is building across the UAE, and across the world, as preparations for this major event reach their closing stages.”

The calendar of events, public access, and competition timings will be released closer to the Games, but in the meantime look out for volunteer opportunities, so you can mark your calendars to show your support of the athletes.

The events will take place in numerous venues across the city, including Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club, Khalifa International Bowling Centre, Yas Links Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Al Forsan Resort, and Corniche Beach.

ADNEC is the main hub of the Games and will host one of the most iconic Olympic sports: basketball. It will also host ten other sports on its premises: table tennis, volleyball, gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, badminton, powerlifting, bocce, judo, handball and roller-skating. Hamdan Center in Dubai will be host to all the aquatic activities and the ever-popular athletics competition will be held in Dubai Police Stadium.

There will be numerous activations throughout the city to get involved with the Games and the athletes. Whatever your interest is, you can find an outing that’s just right for you at these Games.

Getting to host iconic events, such as the Special Olympics World Games, is often a once-in-a-lifetime honour for a city, so do not miss your chance to watch the Games or to volunteer. Your participation will go a long way to help propel the lives of these young athletes, so sign up and witness history being made in the capital.

Special Olympians and law enforcement officers from across the world will tour the seven emirates holding the Olympic flame during the iconic Torch Run, and it will be the very first time the event has happened in the Middle East! It will be from 4-14 March stopping at iconic UAE locations. The final leg of the Torch Run will be in Abu Dhabi on 13-14 March right before the Opening Ceremony at Zayed Sports City so come out to show your support for the athletes, officers, the Games, and the UAE host.

Meet one Special Athlete: Mohammed Al Tajer

At just 10 years of age, Mohammed Al Tajer won his first medal for the UAE at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games. It was an impressive entry onto the world stage for the equestrian athlete and one that whetted his appetite to medal.

Al Tajer says, “when I was young, about 10 years old, I joined the club but I did not know much about sport and equestrian, when I first saw the horses there I fell in love with them, and asked my mom to train in horse riding and be an athlete, It was the same year when I competed in the Special Olympics in China.”

Today, he has won an impressive 36 medals for his country, the most recent three coming at last year’s Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi, where he won one gold and two bronze medals.At only 21 years old, Mohammed now has his eyes set firmly on Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

Commenting on his support network, Al Tajer explains, “my family fully supports me through training and all the competitions I take part in. It is very exciting to have the audience cheering for me in the games.” He adds, “my challenge is giving the best effort each time I compete so I can make my country, my leaders, and especially my mom proud.”

When he’s not riding, Mohammed also enjoys athletics, karate, handball and basketball, although training twice a week with his horse at Al Ain Club is his priority. He also has a keen interest in music.

Be a part of history and get involved with the biggest sporting event the UAE has ever hosted!

The Special Olympics World Games will be the largest sports and humanitarian event in the world, with more than 7,500 Special Olympics athletes from 192 countries set to participate, and an expected 500,000 spectators will be in attendance to take in the games!

A sporting event of that magnitude doesn’t happen overnight, it needs a lot of extra pairs of hands, 40,000 exactly (20,000 volunteers).

Do your part by signing up to volunteer in the games. Volunteers must be at least 14-years old and commit to a minimum of four shifts during the Games. Volunteers are 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.

Yalla will see you at the games in March! Don’t delay. Help them hit their goal of 20,000 volunteers today!

To register, visit:

Opening Ceremony tickets are priced at AED 100 available for purchase at Ticketmaster, which can also be accessed through

News & Updates

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Spectacular Opening Ceremony

A total of 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations will walk into the Zayed Sports City arena and will be accompanied by a number of international celebrities and sporting heroes. The beginning of the games will be marked by the symbolic lighting of the torch with the ‘Flame of Hope’.

Thursday 14 March 2019 | 5pm | Zayed Sports City Arena

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Sports Competitions – Free to Attend!

All sports competitions taking place across nine venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai will be free to attend but registration is required at www.meetthedetermined.comRegistration includes access to the World Games festival areas with plenty of entertainment for the family!

14 – 21 March 2019

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Stellar Attendance

 Football legends Didier Drogba, Romario and Cafu together with Special Olympics Global Ambassadors Michelle Kwan, Dikembe Mutombo, Vladimir Grbić, and Apolo Ohno are among a host of celebrities lined up for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

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Special Olympics in 360° Virtual Reality

Fans will be able to experience the excitement of a World Games unfold in 360° Virtual Reality prior to and during Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Fans can head to the Festival Area at ADNEC from 12 – 20 March to try out watching the series on Samsung VR headsets.

12 – 20 March 2019

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Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program

Hundreds of healthcare professionals will be volunteering their time to provide health screenings for over 1,200 athletes with intellectual difficulties in the MENA and World Games. Healthcare organisations include SEHA, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the Department of Health, Body Tree Studio, Abu Dhabi Sports Council to name a few.

For more information on Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit

Check this page for updates or follow the Special Olympics on social media!

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