Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi posed with Special Olympics athletes before the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Middle East North Africa Regional Games.
On the evening before the opening ceremony for the Middle East-North Africa Regional Games, a Special Olympics basketball player named Abdel Menam Saad El Deen was asked about his hopes and dreams. Menam said he wanted to meet the president of Egypt. To everyone’s surprise, a phone call came in minutes later from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.View Story ▼On the evening before the opening ceremony for the big Middle East-North Africa Regional Games, a Special Olympics basketball player named Abdel Menam Saad El Deen was asked about his hopes and dreams. The question came on a TV program called Cairo 360. Menam said he wanted to meet the president of Egypt, and he added that he would invite the president to the opening ceremony.
To everyone’s surprise, a phone call came in minutes later from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. He told Menam he heard his kind invitation.
The next day, President El Sisi stunned all the attendees with his presence and kicked off the start of the 8th Special Olympics MENA Regional Games in Cairo. It was a major boost for Special Olympics in the whole region. The games ran from 5 to 11 December 2014.
After accepting the invitation, El Sisi hailed and praised the athletes for overcoming all the obstacles they face with love, kindness and dignity. He also thanked the thousands of people attending the opening ceremony in the Air Defense stadium in Cairo and gave a heartfelt speech to all the Special Olympics athletes, their families and the people from each participating country.
In his speech, he said, “I’m happy and proud to be among you and will certainly continue to support you forever to end the injustice and intolerance as you have equal rights that should be taken care of as anyone in the society.”
He also he announced the construction of four new cities in Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia and Giza especially for the people with intellectual disabilities.
Afterward, Ayman Abdel Wahab, who is president and managing director of the Middle East-North Africa Region for Special Olympics, expressed his extreme gratitude to the Egyptian president for his help in making the Games a success.
On another positive note, Wahab also added that the attendance of President El-Sisi signifies the beginning of a new era of attention and care given to people with intellectual disabilities, not only in Egypt, but in the whole region.
About Noha Gaballah:I am a staff writer for Special Olympics in the Middle East-North Africa office in Cairo, Egypt.View less ▲