His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of People of Determination, today inaugurated the 14th World Down Syndrome Congress Dubai 2021 (WDSC), which is being hosted for the first time by a country in the Middle East and North Africa region. The Congress is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.
Organised virtually from 18-20 November by the Emirates Down Syndrome Association, the 14th edition of WDSC brings together 1,500 delegates including people with Down Syndrome, their families and advocates, experts, specialists and researchers in the field. The largest global congress for people with Down Syndrome, WDSC is a family-based event that provides an opportunity to share the challenges facing people with Down syndrome, hear their inspiring success stories, and exchange knowledge and experiences about self-advocacy, empowerment, and social inclusion.
In a speech delivered at the opening ceremony, His Highness Sheikh Mansoor highlighted the directives of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE to place the highest priority on meeting the needs and ensuring the welfare of people of determination. His Highness noted that the UAE was one of the first countries to sign the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008.
HH Sheikh Mansoor stressed the UAE’s keenness to provide protection, care and empowerment for ‘people of determination’, a term given by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to recognise their capabilities and achievements in various fields.
His Highness Sheikh Mansoor added that significant efforts have been made and several initiatives have been launched to transform Dubai into a city that is friendly to people of determination. These initiatives form part of implementing the directives of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council, to make “Dubai a friendly city for all” and enable people of determination to live a fulfilling life in an environment marked by equal opportunities, equality and justice for all.
Her Excellency Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, also delivered a speech at the opening ceremony in which she said: “It is an honour for all of us in the UAE to host the World Down Syndrome Congress, an important global event held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council. We are delighted to support Emirates Down Syndrome Association in organising this remarkable global interactive virtual congress.
Her Excellency added: “We are here to meet with, talk to, interact and integrate people with down syndrome into our community. We hope and always strive to support them and gain their confidence. We are committed to supporting all the families seeking to achieve their children’s dreams and aspirations.”
Dr. Manal Jaroor, President of the WDSC Dubai 2021 and Chairperson of Emirates Down Syndrome Association, said: “I extend my heartfelt thanks to His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of People of Determination, for honouring us and inaugurating this global event. Our deepest gratitude is also extended to our leadership, that always strives to ensure the UAE is a leading nation in all sectors.”
She added: “As the UAE continues to enhance its high rankings in key indicators of development, wellbeing and happiness at a global level, under the guidance of our leadership, hosting such a major international event further enhances the country’s position in the international arena and highlights its profile as a pioneering model to be emulated regionally and globally. The event also acknowledges the advances the UAE has made in adopting the latest knowledge, scientific research and global best practices in the field of Down Syndrome and improving services for them.
The three-day Congress sessions, held on a virtual platform, features a rich agenda presented by an elite group of experts and specialists, including doctors, academics, researchers and self-advocates. The Congress presents the latest developments and research on Down Syndrome over the last three years. Topics of interest being discussed at the Congress include health, education, employment, sports, recreation and leisure.