Outstanding athletes from over 32 countries competed on the opening day of the Special Olympics IX MENA Games in Abu Dhabi.
Dignitaries and honored guests handed out gold, silver and bronze medals as well as participation medals to the athletes as their friends, family and compatriots cheered and applauded.
The UAE topped the medals charts in cycling winning a total of six in a series of races held at the Yas Marina Circuit, including golds in Divisions 2 and 4 of the men’s 5km time trial.
More than 20 Special Olympians from eight countries strapped on their roller skates to compete in the 30m straight line, 100m, 300m and 2x100m relay races.
At the awards ceremony, Emirati Khalifa Ahmed Alamiri proudly wore his tally of three medals in roller-skating around his neck.
Aya Esmail from Syria, Tinhinane Tamzait from Algeria and Seyed Saeid Eilali from Iran won Gold in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 respectively in the 30m straight line.
A series of exciting 300m races saw Emiratis Aysha Alnuaimi and Sayah Alhabash, Egyptians Shahd Nasser Soliman and Sherif Mohamed Abdelhamid Nada, and Jordanians Abdallah Alnahhas and Yousef Yousef all take home gold medals for claiming victory in their divisions.
Aya Esmail from Syria, a winners in one of the 30m straight line races, said: “I have been practicing for the last year with my coach to be part of this wonderful game and that hard work has paid off today.”
Syrian Nejmeh Al Amouri was making her debut in the powerlifting competition. The 16-year-old athlete won a silver medal for squat lifting 60kg in division F2.
In athletics, Egyptian Aya Salah Abdulrahman celebrated winning a gold medal in the 200 meters Division 3.
More than 1,000 athletes from 32 countries have travelled to Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games, which is the first major sporting event ahead of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the 9th Special Olympics Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Regional Games kicked off in Abu Dhabi.
H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, attended the launching ceremony at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and described the Games as “a global event that buttresses the UAE’s prestigious standing in the sports and humanitarian domains.”
“The Emirates’ hosting of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 is a dear dream cherished and supported by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed from the very beginning until it has become true in the Year of Zayed,” Sheikh Hazza said.
“You are a source of inspiration and determination for overcoming challenges and surviving headwinds,” he said to People of Determination.
Thousands of people attended the opening ceremony onsite, with millions following it live on Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, watching how the event truly resonates with the values of tolerance, solidarity and peaceful coexistence deeply cherished by the UAE leadership.
The ceremony opened with the National Anthem and a video titled “Welcome to Our City”, followed by shots showing the arrival of more than 1,000 athletes from 31 countries into the pitch in an impressive musical spectacle that was greatly received by the audience, who then listened to two speeches by Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Member of the Special Olympics Board of Directors, and Engineer Ayman Abdul Wahab, President and Managing Director of the Middle East and North Africa Region of Special Olympics. The event was officially launched when the Special Olympics Flag was ushered into ADNEC with representatives of participating coaches and players reading the Olympics’ official oath.
This was followed a video displaying the Olympic Flame Tour which was conducted over the past few days.
Addressing ceremony, Hessa Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, spoke high of the role played by late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in sowing the seeds of fraternity and solidarity between different segments of society, affirming that the UAE leadership is staunchly committed to this drive of social cohesiveness and to engaging People of Determination into the society.”
“We are determined to keep developing more initiatives conducive to building a more comprehensive world and ensure that our national policy enables all segments of society to unleash their potential regardless of their physical abilities,” the minister said.
Athletes from 31 countries are taking part in the games which is considered the largest such event ahead of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 .
The event will see the participants vying in 16 different games hosted in eight different venues: ADNIC, Zayed Sports City, Yas Marina Circuit, New York University Abu Dhabi, Officers Club, Mubadala Arena, Al Jazeera Sports Club, and Al Forsan Club. Entrance is open for all.
Attending the opening as well were H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation and President of the UAE National Olympic Committee, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Supreme Committee for the Protection of the Rights of People of Determination, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, Sheikha Sheikha Al-Abdullah Al-Khalifa Al-Sabah, the Honorary Chairperson of Kuwaiti Disabled Sports Club, and a number of ministers and top executives.
Provided by WAM
Dub Drive GCC 2018, the largest gathering of Volkswagen owners and fans in the region, welcomed over 800 visitors at the Dubai Autodrome on Friday March 9.
In its second year, the event hosted by Volkswagen Middle East saw 268 car owners from the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Lebanon take over the streets of Dubai in a large convoy, ahead of a festival of live entertainment, food and track racing.
Following the success of Dub Drive 2017, regional participants drove thousands of kilometres from their home countries to take part in the event. This year, the event was open to the general public, allowing car enthusiasts to explore a range of classic, limited edition and modified Volkswagen cars while enjoying the family friendly entertainment on offer.
“The energy of the regional Volkswagen community and the passion that owners and fans have for the brand is overwhelming and pushes us to better serve our customers through creating these unique brand experiences,” commented Andrew Savvas, Brand Director, Volkswagen Middle East.
The 268 car convoy was supported by Emirate Motorsport Federation, RTA, Dubai Police and Civil Defence, creating a network of clear routes for the ultimate Volkswagen fans and ensuring a seamless convoy drive experience through the centre of Dubai.
Dubai welcomed organisers from the world’s biggest Volkswagen clubs, as well as key global Volkswagen personnel including Jost Capito, Managing Director of Volkswagen R GmbH who attended the event with the intention of connecting fans worldwide.
Dub Drive has taken inspiration from an old tradition, Wöerthersee Club Treffen, which is the largest Volkswagen GTI event in the world. The festival started off over 36 years ago in a small village at lake Wöerthersee in Austria by a few Volkswagen fans meeting up, showcasing their cars and exchanging stories. Since then, the event has grown into a three-week-long festival attended by hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen fans from all over Europe.