Disability-friendly city pilot projects to be launched in Dubai

Disability-friendly city pilot projects to be launched in Dubai
Dubai-based Zainab Al Eqabi

Dubai - Dh10 million has been set aside for the "design of the pilot projects" and by the end of Q1 in 2017.


Kelly Clarke

Published: Wed 13 Apr 2016, 12:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Apr 2016, 8:17 AM

Four pilot projects based on universal design will be launched in Dubai at the end of 2016 to tie in with the city's goal of becoming the most disability-friendly destination by 2020.
As part of the 'My Community... A City For Everyone' initiative, which was launched in 2013 by His Highness Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, the pilot projects will span three major sectors in Dubai including: transport, buildings, and communication.
Launched by The Executive Council (TEC) of Dubai, in collaboration with the Community Development Authority (CDA), Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Municipality (DM), 'Accessible Environments For People With Disability based on Universal Design' will cover six phases in total, with work already underway for Phase 1 of the project.
The end-goal of the project is to establish a "Dubai standard for universal design" by emulating best practices from around the world.
Once this standard is established at the end of the year, Dr Salem Ali Alshafei, Director of Polices and Programs (Rights of People with Disabilities Strategy Management and Governance Sector) at TEC, said work will then commence on retrofitting the city.
Phase 1 will see TEC committee heads evaluate the current standards in Dubai looking at issues of legality, permits, and technical capabilities.
Phase 2 will look at best international standards from around the world.
Phase 3 will see the coming together of universal best standards for Dubai - filling in any gaps identified in Phase 1.
Phase 4 will see the committee heads, along with external consultants in best practice in universal design, develop a strategy for transformation.
Phase 5 will see commencement of full module training for knowledge and skills transfers for those who will be working on the pilot projects.
And Phase 6 will see the launch of the pilot projects where the standards set in Phases 1-5 will be adopted and transferred into a universal design around key areas of Dubai.
Dr Alshafei said they are currently in the process of "identifying the pilot sites", but revealed two sites will be piloted from the transport sector (which could include access roads to metro stations); one or two sites from the buildings sector (which could include a mall or university); and one site from the communication sector (a website or specialised centre).
Dh10 million has been set aside for the "design of the pilot projects" and by the end of Q1 in 2017, the goal is to have all sites retrofitted to the meet the new standards - however construction costs will not be covered by the Dh10 million budget.
Speaking following the announcement, Director General of CDA, Khalid Al Kamda, said with accessibility noted as the "biggest issue here", the aim of the project is to make Dubai a "barrier-free city".
And the news is music to Dubai-based Zainab Al Eqabi's ears.
Growing up in Baghdad, Iraq, Eqabi tragically lost her left leg following an explosion at her home.
"There was an old bomb in my home and I was playing near it one day and it blew up. I was severely injured but after a medical mistake, I had to have my limb amputated."
Now fitted with a prosthetic limb, she said she does find it difficult manoeuvring around the city at times.
"In buildings especially, it's hard to climb the stairs, and also on roads, high curbs can become an issue. This new initiative is great news as it makes me feel optimistic because the new standards will allow me to go anywhere and everywhere, without worrying."
She said this is yet another step from Dubai to make the entire disabled community feel "included".
In attendance at Wednesday's announcement was Director General of Dubai Municipality, Hussain Lootah; Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Mattar Al Tayer; Deputy Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Secretary General of TEC, Abdulla Al Shaibani; and Majid Al Qassimi, Member of the Higher Committee for Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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