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US Special Olympics athletes preparing for World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 get a taste of Emirati hospitality

Special Olympics athletes from across the United States who attended the Special Olympics USA Training Camp at the University of Delaware were given a taste of the "Emirati hospitality" they will receive when they visit Abu Dhabi in March of 2019 to compete in the World Games. The cultural event was hosted by officials from the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC, and showcased cuisine and traditions that are common in the UAE. Over 300 athletes, coaches and support staff will represent the US during the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, which will be held this coming March. It will be the first Special Olympics World Games held in the Middle East region.

During the visit, Emirati students from local universities and UAE Embassy diplomats shared various aspects of Emirati culture. Athletes had the opportunity to sample Emirati sweets, try on traditional clothing, and learn useful Arabic phrases.

"It is a wonderful privilege to share a small example of our culture with you," said Dana Al Marashi, Head of Heritage and Social Affairs at the UAE Embassy. "We are even more excited to welcome all of you to Abu Dhabi in March, and for you to experience Emirati culture and traditions first hand."

"Many of our athletes have never traveled outside of the United States, let alone to the Middle East," said Chris Hahn, Head of Delegation for Special Olympics USA. "The impact the World Games will make not only with our athletes, but with those in the UAE and beyond will forever change the hearts and minds of countless amounts of people."

The UAE is proud to work alongside Special Olympics to support people of determination, and commends the organization for its work to encourage inclusion and acceptance.

Seven thousand athletes from more than 177 countries will compete across 24 sports at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi, and 500,000 spectators are expected to attend the Games. It will be the largest humanitarian and sporting event of 2019.

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities.

Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year.

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