190309 special olympics
Dubai is hosting 40 per cent of the delegation, which is about 4,018 athletes from 51 countries from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: The UAE is pulling out all stops to ensure the success of the Special Olympics.

As part of the Special Olympics, the UAE is holding a three-day Host Town Programme where delegations and 11,000 athletes get a chance to enjoy and experience the UAE’s rich culture and history ahead of their participation in the games.

Dubai is hosting 40 per cent of the delegation equivalent to 4,018 athletes from 51 countries from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Mariam Al Obaid, adviser, policy and strategy — social development at The General Secretariat of The Executive Council of Dubai, said they prepared an extensive programme aimed to showcase the local culture, the traditional folklore and legacy of the host country and also engage them in several entertainment opportunities.

“Our programme is focused on taking them on entertainment and cultural tours, including the Dubai Frame, the Dubai Garden Glow at Zabeel Park and then at the Motion Gate. Around 3,900 athletes spent the day at Dubai Parks and Resorts on Saturday,” Al Obaid told Gulf News.

Apart from cultural and entertainment activities, the athletes will also engage with different academic instructions on Sunday morning through the ‘Adopt A Nation’ activity to showcase Dubai’s achievements in the field of inclusion of people of determination.

“This programme focuses on adopting a specific visiting nation and developing multiple activities and entertainment activities and hosting them once they are here. The delegations will be dispatched to 38 schools. They will go there, engage with the students for one hour and take part in multiple activities.”

The three-day Host Town Programme will conclude at Global Village on Sunday night with a torch run, cultural performances, entertainment, and recognition of partners.

Aside from the Host Town Programme, Dubai is also collaborating with Abu Dhabi to host two out of the 24 total sports events, specifically swimming and athletics.

From March 15 to 22, the emirate will host 3,022 athletes from 197 nations as they compete in these two fields. The swimming event will be at Hamdan Bin Rashid Complex while athletics will be at the Dubai Police Club.

A total of 15 partner hotels during the games will house the athletes while 400 people including ushers, supervisors, team leaders, volunteers, 100 medical staff, 31 paramedics will be on hand to take care of them.

“In terms of hospitality, we have prepared the best service that we can in all our hotels. But at the end of the day, away from materialism, it is about the memories and what they have experienced in Dubai, this is what matters for us,” Al Obaid said.

For this to happen, Al Obaid invited the whole of Dubai to take part in warmly welcoming the visiting athletes and even cheering for them at the games.

“The Special Olympics is a humanitarian endeavour so it requires that the whole community to be engaged and to showcase how inclusive our society is. Also, the whole community is being called to come and cheer for the athletes and watch them and appreciate that side of their personalities where they prove that they have exceptional skills, that they can manage to contribute to society regardless of their disability.”