The Dubai Ruler and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince welcomed all participants to the UAE…

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces were in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to jointly light the Special Olympics cauldron.

A retreat for people of determination was signed in Abu Dhabi to launch 31 sports, health, culture and education programmes in a bid to promote the integration of people with disabilities in society.

Photo credit @HHShkMohd on Twitter

On Twitter, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said, “Mohammed bin Rashid and I took part in the People of Determination Retreat. Our mission is to mobilize a global effort to empower them. Building societies properly requires the contribution of all its members & they are an important segment. We wish them a bright future.”

The cauldron was lit by the Torch of Hope, which has been on a tour of all seven emirates. The journey began on March 4 in Fujairah and has now reached Abu Dhabi, it’s final destination, ahead of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Opening Ceremony on March 14.

The torch arrived from Athens on February 28 and has visited iconic locations in Dubai including Burj Al Arab, Dubai Frame, Al Seef Village, Atlantis Hotel and Burj Park. Special Olympics athletes known as Guardians of the Flame have been proudly tasked with carrying the torch around the UAE.

The opening ceremony will feature an Athlete Parade where 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations (the largest number of nations to take part in a parade) walking into the Zayed Sports City arena in front of spectators, VIPs and Special Olympics officials.

The World Games will see athletes compete in 24 Olympic-style sports including swimming, athletics, bowling, triathlons, table tennis, volleyball and badminton.

Tickets for the opening ceremony are available from ticketmaster or you can watch the event from home via Official World Games Broadcast Partners, ESPN and Abu Dhabi TV.

Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 Opening Ceremony, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, 5pm, March 14, tickets from Dhs100.

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Images: Supplied/Twitter