Dubai: accessibility in the city of gold

Dubai is one of the most unique cities in the world with so much to discover, but you might be surprised to learn that this ancient desert is now one of the most accessible cities in the world. We meet people determined to find out how they live and work. We also look at changes made after 2016, when the UAE adopted the term “determined people instead of disabled, in recognition of their achievements in different fields.

With the change came laws to ensure equality, accessibility and non-discrimination. This included social development policies, and an example is the Rashid Center for People of Determination, where they provide integrated educational services and a variety of therapies.

Mariam bean bagDirector General of the Center recalls: “When I started in 1994, there was a big difference compared to now. I think the government of the United Arab Emirates has done a lot for these children. They give them the opportunity to respect their rights. And they offer them all the facilities they can give them the opportunity to be part of society. Now we have children or students who work in banks and hotels, some in the public sector. They are students. They have problems, but they can still be independent.

For many, Dubai conjures up images of a glittering city with the tallest buildings in the world, some of the biggest shopping malls and some of the best tourist attractions on the planet. But if they want to live here or even come to visit, is it accessible to people with different abilities? Now, at the heart of accessibility is Muhammad Al Muttawa, Responsible for Sustainability and Green Economy. Its responsibility is to ensure sustainability and accessibility.

“We have the metro, we have the tram, we have the different bus networks and the Marina Rouge. And taxis, if you are not willing to use public transport. If you plan your trip in advance , you can get to any destination in Dubai without any problem.All means of transport have specifically integrated the needs of determined people to facilitate your trip.There are many activities you can do whether you are in a wheelchair or in a another category of determined persons.”

Shobhika Kalra founder and director of Alas de Ángel explains: “The mindset of the people here is all about caring for others and they strive to make it accessible to everyone. So I’ve been very independent since I was very young and it wouldn’t be fair to take that independence away from me.”

It is this independence that is at the heart of the Dubai North Start strategy: to provide training, education and career paths to determined people.

rich hadnum director of the organization makes numbers: “Inclusive organizations have been shown to generate higher profits than their non-inclusive counterparts. Other than that, one in seven people globally is classified as a determined person and unemployment rates can reach 70 or 80%, even in economically developed countries, so there is a huge market to support and help these people find the right careers.”

One of those successful jobs was for Mohammad Al Mullawho is now a community ambassador for Zabeel House, a lively hotel in the area: “I thought it was the most difficult moment, but then I realized that my job would be much easier when I could practice my skills. Also, I work very well here. I want my family to be proud of me, of what a good person I am. I am, that I treat her well, that I am respectful and that I also want to improve my life”.

Luke James, the hotel manager explains: “Mohamed went through a rigorous selection process. He competed with about nine or 10 candidates. And you saw him here today. He just lights up the room. He welcomes every one of our neighbors, makes them smile. He was natural. He was the best candidate for the job. And he’s been with us for almost a year.

This is Dubai’s message: tolerance and open-mindedness are what have helped make the city home to a diverse and multicultural population.

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