Abu Dhabi rolls out red carpet for Special Olympics World Games

Abu Dhabi and the UAE have rolled out the red carpet for the 7500 athletes from nearly 200 countries who have arrived for the 15th Special Olympics World Games.

The Indian table tennis team girls pose for an 'onboard flight experience' picture at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.   -  Stan Rayan

‘Picture yourself onboard’, said an Etihad Airways banner inviting athletes for a photo at its stand at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) headquarters here.

And the Indian table tennis team girls were just thrilled to pose for a picture, in their moment of glory.
There was another invite, ‘Snap your winning moment’ - this one from ADNEC. Not surprisingly, there was a big bunch of athletes there too.

Abu Dhabi and the UAE have rolled out the red carpet for the 7500 athletes from nearly 200 countries who have arrived here for the 15th Special Olympics World Games which begins with a grand opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

RELATED | Special Olympics: Coach is the hero for shuttlers

“We look at the people of determination, as we call them in here, with admiration,” said Essa Buhumaid, the Minister of Community Development on Wednesday. “We are grateful to the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, for his continuous support. He is the man behind the Special Olympics in the UAE.”

And the Emirates has put its best foot forward to make the Games a grand party and among the expected guest are former long jump world record holder Bob Beamon and famed singers Nicole Scherzinger and Erika Ender.

India, with 284 athletes, is the second biggest contingent here.

“The first Special Olympics World Games was held 50 years ago and now Abu Dhabi has set what could be the standard for the next 50 years,” said Ayman Abdel Wahab, the Regional President, Special Olympics.

The writer is in the Abu Dhabi on the invitation of the UAE Government.