special olympics 50th smithsonian 07102018 7298 22k

UAE Embassy Honors 50 Years of Special Olympics Movement During Event at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

July 17, 2018

New Display  Chronicles Special Olympics’ Efforts to Create a More Inclusive World

Abu Dhabi to Host Special Olympics World Games in March 2019

WASHINGTON, DC (17 July 2018) – The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Washington, DC co-hosted an event with Special Olympics at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Special Olympics International Games on the occasion of the opening of the new display at the museum, Special Olympics at 50. It also celebrated the positive impact of the Special Olympics movement to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, and promote tolerance and inclusion.

The program featured remarks by Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver; Head of Heritage and Social Affairs at the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC Dana Al Marashi; Acting Director of the National Museum of American History Sue Fruchter; and Special Olympics Chief Inspiration Officer Loretta Claiborne. The speakers underscored the achievements of the Special Olympics movement to build acceptance and tolerance, and promote friendship through sports. 

During his remarks, Dr. Shriver highlighted the importance of celebrating this milestone alongside the UAE Embassy – ahead of the Special Olympics World Games that will be held in Abu Dhabi next year.  

“The opening of the ‘Special Olympics at 50’ display at the National Museum of American History on this anniversary, July 10 – the birth date of my mother and Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver – is a joyous and important milestone for our movement,” said Shriver. “We are thrilled to celebrate this occasion with the UAE Embassy, as Abu Dhabi, UAE will host our next and most inclusive Special Olympics World Games in March 2019. The athletes of Special Olympics are leaders the world needs at this critical moment, teaching us how to shower respect on your fellow human beings, and showing the world what it means to choose to include.”

Commenting on the event, UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said, “Congratulations to Special Olympics on reaching this important milestone. The organization has done so much to foster acceptance and tolerance through sports, and the UAE is proud to be kicking-off the next 50 years of the Special Olympics’ ‘inclusion revolution’ in Abu Dhabi in 2019.”

The UAE will be the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to host the Special Olympics World Games, which will be the world’s largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019. Seven thousand athletes from more than 170 countries will compete in 24 sports at the World Games Abu Dhabi.

Noting the upcoming World Games, Ms. Al Marashi said, “I’m sure these athletes of different cultures and backgrounds will find common ground in the UAE – where we are fortunate to host residents from over 200 nationalities. This diversity in cultures creates positive outlook, tolerance and understanding. This is a value we in the UAE share with our US friends and partners.”

About the Display- ‘Special Olympics at 50’

The ‘Of Note’ display at the National Museum of American History highlights the Special Olympics which has been in operation for 50 years, using sports competition to expose and react against societal discrimination of adults and children with intellectual disabilities. This highlights case explores Special Olympics through five case studies including Eunice Kennedy Shriver who began Camp Shriver in 1962 and grew it into the Special Olympics by 1968 and participating athletes Marty Sheets, Ricardo Thornton, Loretta Claiborne, and Lee Dockins.

The exhibition will be on display from July 10, 2018 through June 2019.