How the UAE empowers its elderly

Filed on October 1, 2018 | Last updated on October 1, 2018 at 09.39 pm
How the UAE empowers its elderly


The segment is expected to reach 2 billion people by 2050, and make up an estimated 20 per cent of the world's population.

On International Day of Older Persons, the elderly in the UAE are reminded that their roles in society remain vital after retirement, with authorities unifying efforts to integrate them in communities.

Joining the global celebrations of the occasion that falls on October 1, UAE authorities confirmed empowering the elderly over 60 years of age, a segment that is expected to reach 2 billion people by 2050, and make up an estimated 20 per cent of the world's population.

Huraiz Al Mur bin Huraiz, CEO Social Care and Development Sector in Community Development Authority (CDA), said elders are encouraged to continue giving and remain an active part of the society. "We want families to benefit from the elders' experiences. They make an important segment of the population that cannot be marginalised or overlooked when developing any service or project."

He added that the increase of the number of elders must be accompanied by clear inclusion plans that are open to all, including young people, the possibility of planning a life full of activity and productivity after the age of 60.

With the developing needs of elders at different stages in life, he urged unifying of efforts between government and private agencies to develop new programmes and projects that expand the capacity of older persons to integrate fully into society.

Meanwhile, elderly members of the Thukher Social Club, established by the CDA to promote elders' integration in society, said the government has given them opportunities to allow them to continue their contribution to society after their retirement.

Second phase of giving

Yousef Juma, a 64-year-old former director at the Licensing Department of the Dubai Police, said retirement has been a chance to relax after 37 years of service and plan for another phase of life ahead.

He has been dedicating his time to sharing his knowledge and expertise with schoolchildren as part of Thukher Social Club for the last three years. "Age is never an excuse to stop giving. After retirement, people need to take up an activity to avoid feeling empty and share the knowledge they gained from life with the young generation who needs it most," said Juma.

Realising that technology and modern life dominated over the UAE traditions, Juma said he gives lectures and conducts activities at schools to remind the youth of preserving the UAE culture.

As compared to the past, he said today's media channels and smart gadgets caused family disintegration. "Back in the days, young children used to sit with their fathers in the Majlis to gain knowledge and experience. Nowadays, children are busy on their smartphones and iPads that they become isolated in their own families," said Juma.

Mohammed Hussain, 67-year-old former Ministry of Interior officer, said elders must not fear retirement, but take it as a chance to plan for different phase of giving.

"Humans are created in stages to keep learning and working in different ways," said Hussain, a member of the Thukher Social Club since its establishment in 2014. The club today gathers 237 male and female elderly, with the number its internal activities reaching 12,488 and over 385 external activities. Hussain said elders must continue in volunteering work, especially when the government is giving plenty of opportunities for their participation in society.

"When we gather at the club, we exchange ideas and knowledge that we can benefit the society with." Like Juma, he spends his time giving lectures in schools and being consultant in the club.

Meanwhile, the CDA continues to provide different services for the elderly including Thukher card, which provides a package of services and facilities to 6,614 elders in Dubai in cooperation with 123 governmental and private bodies.

Officials said the day care service 'Waleef Volunteer Programme,' run by 54 volunteers who give care to elderly living alone in Dubai, has benefitted 262 people so far with over 32,905 services.


Sherouk Zakaria

"Born and raised in UAE, Sherouk Zakaria is a Senior Correspondent at Khaleej Times. Joined since May 2016, she covers Dubai Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), special events and humanitarian issues. Her choice of journalism as a career stems from her passion of telling people's stories and writing to inspire or make a difference. In her free time, she's an occasional theater and film actress. Sherouk received her BA in Mass Communications from the American University in Sharjah in 2013. Before joining Khaleej Times, she was a senior lifestyle/entertainment editor for a magazine in Dubai."

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