Emirate to Be Declared ‘accessible City for Physically Disabled’ on October 31 at United Nations by World Federati0n of Disabled
Dubai, UAE, September 15, 2018: Top officials and heads of various government entities have welcomed steps being taken by the United Nations recognising Sharjah as the “Accessible City for the Physically Disabled,” hailing it as yet another feather in the Emirate’s cap and a proud milestone in its journey of inclusive progress and empowerment. The Emirate is to be formally declared the ‘Accessible City for the Physically Disabled’ during the World Cities Day at the United Nations in New York on October 31, 2018 by the World Federation of the Disabled.
Major General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police
Major General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, lauded the Emirate’s leadership and various entities for their concern and commitment for people with disabilities. He stressed that in line with the directives of HH the Ruler of Sharjah and in compliance with the country’s laws, in relation to physically impaired people and their rights, the Sharjah Police General Headquarters has initiated a number of measures and launched a number of initiatives to support this section of society.
“The aim is to emphasise the utmost importance attached to this vital segment of society, support their role in community building, and provide them with job opportunities that suit their abilities, as well as to develop infrastructure to ensure their freedom of movement and access to any services they require at various police facilities. We have even allowed physically challenged people to receive some of these services in the comfort of their homes without the need to go to a police station or facility,” said the Sharjah Police chief.
“The title is a tribute to Sharjah in particular, and the UAE and Arab region in general. It is also an international testimony to the great human dimension of the Arab experience in caring for the physically disabled, safeguarding their rights and enhancing their participation in building society and achieving sustainable development by turning them into a productive force that contributes to progress and construction.”
Dr Tariq Sultan bin Khadem, Chairman of Sharjah’s Human Resource Department and Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped
Welcoming the announcement, HE Dr Tariq Sultan bin Khadem, Head of Sharjah’s Human Resources Department and Chairman of Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped said: “I congratulate His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, on this huge honour of Sharjah being recognised as the Accessible City for Physically Disabled. This achievement would not have been possible without His Highness's support for this vital segment of society for more than 38 years.”
He pointed out that the new title for Sharjah is yet another proud addition to the Emirate’s numerous titles and achievements. “It is a testament to the fact that Sharjah is an international city that meets all standards of decent living for all segments of society to achieve all-round development through the creation of a healthy community free from discrimination and bias.”
HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority
HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority said: “Following the directives of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, we at Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority seek to provide all sorts of support to the physically disabled. We believe that a physical disability should never turn into a mental or psychological one by burying the talents and capabilities of these individuals.
“In this context, we have worked to strengthen their role in society by coordinating and cooperating with all private and government institutions to provide the necessary support, services and facilities for persons with physical disability, including citizens and residents, as well as visitors, so they can visit Sharjah and enjoy its tourist attractions with ease and flexibility.”
Al Midfa emphasised that the Authority is keen to make all facilities in the Emirate disabled-friendly. It provides the physically challenged and elderly with priority entry and seats in all its events. It also requires all hotel facilities in Sharjah to allocate rooms for persons with physical disabilities according to international standards and specifications. Moreover, the Authority is intensifying its efforts to achieve the UAE's national strategy to integrate and empower people with motor disabilities in all areas of life.
HE Thabit Salem Al-Tharifi, Director General, Sharjah Municipality
Thabit Salem Al-Tharifi, Director General of Sharjah Municipality emphasised that the Municipality has initiated a number of services, facilities and initiatives for people with physical disabilities, in accordance with the vision of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, helping them integrate into society and participate in the development of the Emirate.
He stressed that the Municipality has equipped parks in the city with all necessary infrastructure and facilities to suit the special needs of this section of society so they can enjoy themselves like everyone else. The Sharjah Municipality has specially focused on the entrance and exit points of parks in accordance with highest global standards, facilitating their smooth and easy movement particularly near the main gates. The Municipality has also provided wheelchairs in all municipal buildings and parks besides offering the facility of golf cars in the main building of the municipality for this section of society.
Al-Tharifi pointed out that the Municipality allowed the families of physically disabled people to visit parks without the need of an entry ticket as a humanitarian gesture. It also ensured the involvement of all stakeholders in all activities and events hosted by the municipality in parks and equipping them with skills that help them to contribute to society.
Al-Tharifi revealed that the Municipality has allocated the proceeds of the public parking fees surrounding the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services to the organisation to serve its higher goals.
Dr Hamid Majul Al Nuaimi, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah
Under the directives of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of University of Sharjah (UoS), the UoS, in cooperation with Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, established the Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities during academic year 2013-2014, said Dr Hamid Majul Al Nuaimi, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah. The Centre was designed to form a reference body in the process of containment, integration and empowerment of persons with disabilities through a system that begins after the student meets the requirements of admission to the university.
The UoS has been keen to develop its various buildings and facilities to suit all forms of disability, including motor disability, with the technical assistance of a special committee set up by the University for this purpose, he added.
Long Journey Towards Empowerment
For over 38 years, the physically disabled have been the focus of attention in Sharjah. Following the establishment of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS), one of the Arab world’s key institutions handling educational, social and environmental issues of the disabled, several similar institutions have been launched. These include Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped, Parents of Disabled Association, Emirates Association of the Visually Impaired and Al Thiqah Projects for Employment & Rehabilitation.
The directives of HH the Ruler of Sharjah to harness all possibilities to facilitate the mobility of physically disabled people around any place, facility or institution, urged the Executive Council, under the chairmanship of HH Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, to put in place a number of laws, regulations and requirements that bind all government entities concerned with public construction to adopt disabled-friendly engineering standards.
Since the launch of the World Federation of the Disabled Regional Office in Sharjah, headed by Dr Tariq Sultan bin Khadem, Chairman of Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped, the Office has conducted field visits to all government entities and private institutions to inform them of engineering standards designed for the physically challenged and have them adopt these standards in future projects or incorporate them into existing ones.
Sharjah’s recognition as ‘Accessible City for Physically Disabled’ will make people with disabilities more confident about engaging in everyday life and carrying out their day-to-day activities with ease, including going to work, shopping and entertainment venues and places of worship and using public transportation, as well as joining various educational institutions and sports centres and clubs.
The Evaluation Committee, representing a number of countries from around the world, visited a host of government departments, leisure destinations, and places offering access to transport and communications, besides some internal roads, educational institutions, hospitals and clinics and museums to examine their compliance with the standards of the World Federation of the Disabled. The Committee gave the Emirate three years to make the necessary adjustments and changes. Based on the Emirate’s commitment to all necessary criteria, the Committee decided to grant Sharjah the coveted title of the ‘Accessible City for the Physically Disabled.’
Steps Towards Empowerment
As part of its efforts to make itself a city that is friendly and accessible to the disabled people, Sharjah equipped itself with all necessary infrastructure that is necessary and friendly to the disabled.
Sharjah’s case was presented during a meeting at the headquarters in Turkey in the presence of the President of the World Federation of the Disabled.
A visit by the Evaluation Committee comprising a number of experts with diverse specialisations from various countries in the field of people with disabilities was scheduled.
The Evaluation Committee was received in Sharjah and it undertook intensive field visits to a number of government departments, shopping centres, museums, sports clubs, airport, public transport and leisure destinations.
In the course of day-to-day meetings with concerned officials, the members of the Evaluation Committee expressed their admiration for the services provided to people with disabilities (slopes, baths, corridors, elevators and offices) in Sharjah and more importantly, the society's awareness of all aspects of disability.
Sharjah has been offering its services to the disabled, especially in transport sector, for the past 38 years. Over the years, regardless of the title, it has worked to achieve highest international standards on this count. However, since the opening of the regional office of the World Federation of the Disabled in Sharjah in 2013, the Emirate has consciously pursued the goal of declaring itself a city that is friendly to the disabled.