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Community Impact

Saif and Ali Sumaida: A Father Supporting his Son on and Off the Field of Play

Young man working on a project and an adult figure supervises.

“I am Saif Bin Sumaida, a retired senior engineer from ADNOC Gas. God blessed me with four sons and two daughters. We discovered that one of our sons, Ali, had autism at four years old and he struggled a lot with his speech growing up. We enrolled him in speech therapy sessions at the New England Center to help him work on this.

After involving Ali in inclusive sport with Special Olympics at the age of 6, he started participating in equestrian activities, football and golf. At 15 years old, he competed at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi in 2019. We supported and encouraged him by attending his training sessions as he prepared for the Abu Dhabi Games and cheering him on from afar while he competed.

As for my role with my family, my previous work schedule was one month on and one month off. With this schedule, I tried to keep in touch with my family through calls and checking in on their well-being as much as possible.

During my off month, I would make up for my absence by spending time at home, especially in the afternoons. We would have breakfast together in the morning before school, lunch together in the afternoons and I would help them with their homework as well. In the evening, I left it to my kids to spend it however they would choose.

Even after I retired, my children were never out of my mind. I know their hobbies—they love electronic games—and I would try to get them into other habits by going on family outings and making sure they were part of sport clubs, like Special Olympics.”

Breaking Barriers: Ali’s Inspiring Journey

Ali, a determined 19-year-old, has been making waves in the Special Olympics since 2019. His journey, filled with perseverance and success, stands as a testament to the power of dedication and support. As a passionate golfer, Ali’s commitment to his sport and community roles showcases his remarkable leadership and spirit.

Rising Through the Ranks

Ali Saif's family photo

Ali’s involvement with Special Olympics began in 2019. His talents and leadership qualities quickly shone through, earning him prestigious positions such as the President of Special Olympics UAE Youth Leaders Council and a member of the Athlete Leaders Council. His participation in the Special Olympics Games in the UAE (2019) and Berlin (2023) highlights his dedication. Alongside his athletic endeavors, Ali represented UAE as an ambassador, attending the Regional Youth Leaders Conference in Cairo in December 2023.

Balancing Act: Sports, Studies, and Family

Ali and his father

Beyond his achievements on the field, Ali maintains a well-rounded life filled with diverse interests and responsibilities. In his free time, he enjoys football, table tennis, volleyball and volunteering as a sports supervisor. His daily routine is a fine balance of academic pursuits and physical training. In the mornings, Ali diligently focuses on his Business Administration studies at university. Afternoons are reserved for fitness training at home and coaching his younger brother in football. Additionally, he plays a crucial role in managing household errands, from grocery shopping to bakery runs.

Facing Challenges Head-On

Ali’s journey has not been without its challenges. His father, Mr. Saif, proudly acknowledges Ali’s accomplishments but also highlights the hurdles they face. Integrating Ali into society and the Special Olympic World Games, helping him accept both victory and defeat, and fully integrating him into school in 2019 were significant milestones. Ensuring Ali’s success in university required providing a shadow assistant, a testament to their unwavering commitment.

Celebrating Successes

Three men standing next to Special Olympics UAE signage

Ali’s achievements are truly inspiring. He clinched silver medals in the 2019 and 2023 Special Olympics World Games, and his academic prowess is evident in his impressive 94.6% score in the high school final exams of 2023. His seamless integration into university life, actively engaging with students, faculty and administrative staff, underscores his adaptability and determination.

A Bright Future Ahead

The bond within Ali’s family is characterized by love and understanding, fostering an environment where Ali thrives. Looking to the future, Ali aspires to be a voice for people of determination, advocating for their needs and helping them achieve their potential.

Mr. Saif offers profound advice to families of people of determination, “The real disability is for a person to see himself as incapable of thinking and developing.”

Ali’s story is a powerful reminder that with perseverance, support, and ambition, any obstacle can be overcome. His journey continues to inspire and uplift, breaking barriers and setting new standards of excellence.

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