H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed leads Walk Unified event at Umm Al Emarat Park.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, led today hundreds of people from across the UAE in a Walk Unified event, which took place as the first wave of the Walk of Tolerance at Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi, this afternoon.

He was joined by people of all nationalities and backgrounds, people with disabilities and those without, and a number of federal, religious and sports leaders and ambassadors as he led the first wave of the walk side-by-side with people of determination in a mark of solidarity and unity.

Mohammed Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Afra Al Sabri, Ministry of Tolerance, and Abdullah Mohammed Al Nuaimi, Executive Director of the National Tolerance Program also joined the walk.

Walk Unified is a flagship community initiative of the Local Organizing Committee, LOC, of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. The event aims to break down barriers between people with and without intellectual disabilities and encourage a healthy lifestyle and inclusiveness.

Walk Unified will return on a monthly basis to Umm Al Emarat Park in the run-up to the World Games. Hundreds of members of the public from different backgrounds are expected to attend over the coming months and walk alongside People of Determination with the hope of breaking down societal barriers.

Today’s walk was held as part of the National Festival of Tolerance in partnership with Etihad Airlines. The 2km walk features music and heritage displays from countries all over the world, highlighting tolerance as a global message to be embraced by all communities.

Sheikh Abdullah said, “Walk Unified perfectly encapsulates the UAE and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019’s important message of inclusivity, humanitarianism and respect for all people, regardless of age or ability.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is proud to support this initiative that will see communities across the UAE and the world come together to achieve the goals of the Special Olympics movement and join the UAE in its pledge to help build a more open society that values all people equally and allows everyone to play their part in contributing to the creation of a better tomorrow.

“Walk Unified and Special Olympics reflect the founding principles of the UAE. We encourage communities in every town, city and country on every continent to participate in this important and inspirational program as we look forward to welcoming the world to the UAE for Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.”

He commended the efforts of the Ministry of Tolerance, under the leadership of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, and the LOC of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 in promoting the values of tolerance, by launching several great initiatives locally and internationally.

Mohammed Abdulla Al Junaibi, Chairman of the Higher Committee of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, said, “I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Tolerance for not only partnering with us for this event but for organizing this inspiring festival that embodies the values of tolerance, unity and inclusivity � all of which are values of the UAE and the Special Olympics movement.

“I encourage everyone across the UAE to attend Walk Unified at some stage ahead of the World Games. I know that every single member of the public who attended today will have had his or her life enriched by walking side-by-side with people of determination and I hope to see many of you, here again, walking together and showcasing your commitment to unity over the coming months.”

Walk Unified was first launched in January this year as part of the build-up to the IX MENA Games. The event saw the attendance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

Speaking for the Ministry of Tolerance, Al Sabri valued the presence of Sheikh Abdullah at the walk, noting that he is showcasing tolerance locally and internationally and representing an extension of the values of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

She added that the National Festival of Tolerance is a celebration of Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and the values for our leadership to nurture and develop.

Over 7,500 athletes from more than 176 nations are gearing up to participate in what will be the world’s biggest sports and humanitarian event � from 14th to 21st March, 2019 � and the most unified Games in the 50-year history of Special Olympics.

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs