Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, a ceremony was held to mark the arrival of the "Flame of Hope" for the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The flame was transported on a Boeing Airline 787-9 Dreamliner plane of Etihad Airways, the official airline partner of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, which had a special design that aims to promote the major sporting and humanitarian event.
The ceremony was attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Tolerance; Hessa Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development; John Nunan, President of the Last Phase of the Flame of Hope; Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, Director of the ADNOC Executive Office; Mohammed Abdullah Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer of Etihad Airways, as well as several senior officers from the Ministry of the Interior, and athletes participating in the games, which will be held from 14th to 21st March.
The ceremony’s organising committee was headed by Brigadier Waleed Al Shamsi from the Ministry of Interior.
The flame will be carried throughout all seven emirates in the 10-day Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg before concluding its journey at the Opening Ceremony of the World Games on 14 March.
The torchbearers of the Special Olympics will include athletes and hundreds of police officers from around the world. The tour will begin from the historic Fort of Fujairah at 6:30 on 4th March.
In line with the traditions of the Special Olympics, the flame’s safety team, which are made up of police officers, will carry the torch around the UAE until it reaches Abu Dhabi.
Hessa Buhumaid thanked the attendees, and said, "Today, we are here together, in Abu Dhabi, during this important historic moment."
"I am honoured to participate in the official reception of the Flame of Hope for the Special Olympics, which has reached the UAE and the Middle East for the first time in the long history of the Special Olympics Movement, spanning 50 years," she added.
Khalfan Al Mazrouei, Managing Director at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said: "The Special Olympics Flame of Hope has become a globally-recognised symbol for inclusion, courage and diversity.
"In two weeks’ time, when the World Games officially begin, we will celebrate determination at sports arenas and playing fields across the UAE. It is our hope that these World Games will create real long-term change and a future where every person is valued, accepted, and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential."
Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 is the largest sports and social inclusion event in the world, this year featuring 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations who will compete in 24 Olympic-style sports across nine venues in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.