ABU DHABI - A study conducted by Nielsen, a measurement and data analytics company, has revealed that the Special Olympics World Games 2019 have played a defining role in improving the overall sentiment towards individuals with intellectual disability in the UAE.
The survey, which is representative of the UAE community, revealed that over half of the UAE population felt there has been a significant improvement in attitudes towards people with intellectual disability, with that figure increasing to around 70 percent among those who have had some kind of engagement with the Special Olympics World Games 2019.
The study, which was commissioned by the Local Organising Committee of the Special Olympics World Games 2019, aimed at understanding community perceptions and measuring any shifts in attitudes that have resulted through the Games. According to the post-Games survey, which was conducted three months after the completion of the Games, over half of the UAE community were aware of the Special Olympics World Games.
This improvement in community perception towards people with intellectual disabilities has also been observed across various segments in society, including neighbours’ attitudes, employee attitudes and students’ attitudes. Significantly less people feel that neighbours, employees and student perceptions are a major obstacle for people with intellectual disability, going down eight percentage points for the two former groups and six percentage points for the latter.
"We are pleased with the results revealed by this survey because our intention, under the guidance and direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, was to utilise these Games to change perceptions, and showcase to the UAE and the world how critical it is to promote inclusion for people of Determination," said Mohamed Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the Special Olympics World Games 2019. "We were able to touch the lives of people of determination and showcase to over half the UAE population the willpower and determination that these athletes have, through engagements and activations related to and leading up to the Games," Al Junaibi added.
"We couldn’t have achieved the impact we had without the leadership and patronage of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed."
The Special Olympics World Games 2019 was hosted in Abu Dhabi in March 2019 for the first time in the Middle East North Africa since the movement’s founding over 50 years ago. T
he Special Olympics is the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event and a global movement which focuses on the empowerment of People of Determination with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport. Over 7,000 athletes from over 190 countries came to compete in a series of sports, as well as a variety of initiatives and activities held across the seven Emirates.
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