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Ahmed Bin Mohammed Welcomes International Sports Innovation Conference Participants

Track and Field legend Carl Lewis and Africa’s most decorated Olympian Kirsty Coventry among 11 speakers who will share their experience at the Conference on Monday, Nov 18

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the National Olympic Committee and Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, has welcomed the participants of the 1st International Sports Innovation Conference and hopes the conference will help spread the values of tolerance and peace across the globe.

Organised by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award, which is a Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiative, the first International Sports Innovation Conference will be held on November 18 at the Hilton Al Habtoor under the theme "Tolerance and Peace in Sport", and some of the world's leading ambassadors of sports and tolerance will be sharing their experience at the conference.

Leading the list of speakers is Carl Lewis, one of the most celebrated athletes in Olympic history, and HE Kirsty Coventry, Africa's most decorated Olympian and now Zimbabwe's Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, alongside HE Dr Sonia Ben Cheikh, Tunisia's Minister of Youth and Sports, Ms Daniela Bas, Director of the Division For Inclusive Social Development at the United Nation's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and former Egyptian judoka Mohamed Ali Rashwan, winner of a silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games, and the 1985 and 1987 World Judo Championships.

Welcoming the participants, HH Sheikh Ahmed said: "Coinciding with the Year of Tolerance in the UAE and in sync with the objectives of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, we are pleased to work towards realising the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to empower communities and promote the noble values of cooperation, peace and tolerance through sports.

"We have launched a number of different initiatives to propagate these values, and the newest of them is this pioneering International Sports Innovation Conference, which has brought together sports legends, who have left an indelible mark in the history of the Olympic Games and international sports, top government officials and promising young Arab sports heroes for a dialogue on 'Tolerance and Peace in Sport'.

"We have selected a very diverse group of speakers representing different generations, cultures and nationalities in order to emphasise the universality of sports as a language of tolerance and peace. An athlete is a role model not just for the youth of his homeland, but for young and old around the globe.

"We hope that our sports sector in the UAE and the Arab world will benefit from this conference, and we hope this conference will help further the noble values of tolerance, peace and unity around the globe."

The Conference will start with Ms Bas and Rashwan talking about "Sports – Language of Tolerance", while HE Sonia Ben Cheikh and HE Kirsty Coventry, winner of seven swimming Olympic medals, will take centre stage in the second session, titled "Sports Diplomacy".

The third session will see UAE's Omar Al Marzooqi, winner of an individual showjumping silver medal at last year's Youth Olympic Games in Argentina, discuss "Creativity in Sports" alongside other young MBR Sports Creativity Ambassadors from the Arab world: Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Al Assiri, winner of a karate gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games; Ahmed Elgendy of Egypt, who confirmed his status as one of the best young pentathlete in the world by winning gold at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games; Tunisia's Ines Boubakri, who became the first Tunisian fencer ever to win an Olympic medal when she won bronze at the 2016 Games; Moroccan Fatima Zahra Abou Fares, who entered the record books last year when she became the first Arab to win a taekwondo gold at the Youth Olympic Games; and Ahmad Abughaush of Jordan, who won the 68kg taekwondo gold at the 2016 Olympic Games, becoming Jordan's first Olympic medal winner.

American track and field legend Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic gold medals and a silver in a storied track and field career, will be final speaker of the day, sharing his memories that include winning 10 World Championship medals as well and setting world records in the 100m, 4×100m, 4×200m relays and the indoor long jump, which has stood since 1984.

Lewis' success has earned him many accolades and he was voted "World Athlete of the Century" by the International Association of Athletics Federations and "Sportsman of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee in 1999.

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