Dubai - In Part 13 of our series, we're putting the spotlight on the initiatives that show how much the UAE cares about your well-being
While the responsibility of staying healthy eventually lies on an individual, the UAE government has also made it a priority to give health for all the rightly needed push.
From drafting legislations to encouraging residents to take part in challenges, and highlighting lifestyle diseases in awareness campaigns, the government has always expressed that prevention is better than cure.
Dr Abdul Rahman bin Mohamed Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, said the ministry is continuously strengthening its preventive measures by launching programmes that tackle lifestyle-related diseases.
Dr Hussein Abdel-Rahman Rand, assistant undersecretary for Health Clinics and Centres at the ministry, said the national socio-economic framework envisions a world-class local health system and a broader medical coverage. It aims to improve the domestic sector based on approved methods such as the national lifestyle indicators, combating obesity in children, and reducing the mortality rate among people with heart disease and diabetes.
Khaleej Times highlights some of the notable steps taken in the recent years.
The famous 30-day challenge
Started two years ago, Dubai Fitness Challenge has been a hit among residents. In 2018, it brought together more than one million participants for 30 days, with over 8,000 free classes held in over 250 locations across the city, including five themed Fitness Villages that turned Dubai into residents' personal gym.
With events that covered every sport, activity and fitness level, the whole family could take on the challenge. Thirty energising events - including The Colour Run, XDubai Spartan Race, Daman City Swim, X3JR Triathlon and Emirates NBD Unity Run - were part of the fitness month.
Companies and government organisations also took the lead by getting involved. Dozens of corporate games were organised in offices to keep employees fit and motivated.
Schools go healthy, too
A new school policy for Dubai stipulates more physical exercise and less junk food for pupils. The Dubai Health Authority has outlined a new plan for all private schools, focusing on disease prevention and early detection and encouraging students to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Twelve programmes for private schools across the emirate have been launched.
Schools will have to show they are encouraging pupils to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, and increase PE classes to 150 minutes every week.
Keep walking even in summer - with air-conditioned trails
The city of Sharjah will soon have air-conditioned walkways to beat the summer heat that prevents people from being active.
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, said in 2017: "We will have the first, best air-conditioned walkways because during five months of the year, the temperatures are so high that people are unable to exercise."
Brace for more cycling routes
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai has developed cycleways in Dubai with a total length of 385km by the end of 2018.
Back in 2006, there were only 10km cycling tracks in the city. Today, the longest track is in Al Qudra and it is almost 230km long.
The RTA aims to extend the tracks to 560km by 2022, passing through areas such as Al Warqa'a, Jumeirah Beach, Nad Al Sheba, Expo 2020 site, Downtown, Jebel Ali, Al Quoz, Al Karama, Oud Metha, Hor Al Anz, Al Ghusais, and Al Barsha.
Downtown Dubai, the Expo site and Jumeirah Beach are among several locations that will have cycleways soon, as Dubai aims to be among the most cycling-friendly cities in the world ahead of Expo 2020.
No to smoking and alcohol
The UAE has also implemented a ban on smoking in many public places, which has led to a decrease in smoking deaths.
When it comes to alcohol prohibition, on the other hand, Sharjah has been taking the lead for 34 years now. Studies showed that alcohol consumption is responsible for 10 per cent of all cancer deaths in the emirate.