ABU DHABI - Special Olympics UAE athletes won 16 medals at the Special Olympics Invitational Games Malta 2022, the UAE’s first international participation at a Special Olympics Games since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

The UAE was the only Arab delegation at the Games and the second from outside Europe among 23 participating countries. The athletes competed in aquatics, bocce and bowling and won six gold, eight silver and two bronze.

Decorated Special Olympics UAE swimmer, Omar Al Shami, won gold in the 50-metre freestyle and breaststroke. Awadh Al Ketbi won silver in the 50-metre backstroke and 50-metre freestyle. Mohammed Al Zubaidi won silver in the 50-metre butterfly and bronze in the 50-metre freestyle event. Athletes Faisal Al Marzouqi, Shaima Al Naqbi and Hamda Murad each won gold in the singles bocce competition. Abdulaziz Al Gharib took home a bronze in the individual bocce competitions. In the men’s doubles competition, Abdulaziz Al Gharib and Faisal Al Marzouqi won silvers. Hamda Murad and Shaima Al Naqbi won silvers in the women’s doubles bocce competition.

In bowling, athletes participated with Unified Partners. Reem Jamal and Abdullah Al Jaidi, competed for the UAE national bowling team and in individual categories. Mariam Al Hosani won silver in the singles bowling category and Saleh Al Marri came in fourth place in the singles bowling category. Hosani and Jamal, won the gold medal in the unified women's doubles category, while Saleh Al Marri and Abdullah Al Jaidi, won silver in the unified men’s doubles category.

The delegation’s participation at the Malta Games 2022 was sponsored by Aldar Properties, and the Integrated Transport Centre – Abu Dhabi provided transportation support to the athletes during their training camps in Abu Dhabi. Prior to the Games, Special Olympics UAE held local qualifying competitions between People of Determination clubs to join the Malta 2022 delegation.

Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and Chairperson of Special Olympics UAE, said, "We are proud of the impressive results achieved by Special Olympics UAE Athletes at the Malta 2022 Games. Their performance was both incredible and inspiring, reflecting the UAE's strategy to support and empower People of Determination and empower them to participate strongly in international events. I would like to express my most profound appreciation to the Government of Malta and the Maltese Ambassador to the UAE, Maria Camilleri, who visited the athletes during their training in Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi to offer support and well wishes ahead of the Games. We are also grateful to our partners and our technical staff for the support to our athletes."

"We dedicate this achievement to President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the most prominent supporter of People of Determination. The Malta Games 2022 was an important continuation of the legacy of the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 and positions the UAE at the forefront of inclusive communities under the guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Mariam bint Mohamed bin Zayed," she said in conclusion.

Talal Al Dhiyebi, Group Chief Executive Officer Aldar Properties, commented, "We are proud of all the athletes who represented the UAE at the Malta Games 2022. They were a great showcase of the power of sports in the UAE, especially for People of Determination. We are delighted to have supported this achievement and we look forward to continuing the strong partnership between Aldar Properties and Special Olympics UAE to contribute towards a more inclusive society."