DUBAI // Neena Nizar wants to go shopping on her own.
Spurred on by the independence she discovered while using a battery-powered shopping cart in the US, this special needs shopper has launched a campaign to get the trolleys introduced at malls across Dubai.
As part of her lobbying efforts, the former school teacher has made dozens of phone calls and written letters to shopping centres in the emirate asking that mall managers instal the kind of carts that are in widespread use in the West.
"You just don't see us around, you don't see people with special needs shopping," she said. "Malls should consider that we are a target consumer group, we also want to shop."
Mrs Nizar cannot walk the distances required in Dubai's sprawling malls and is unable to push a wheelchair due to a rare genetic disorder that has required surgery on 24 occasions, beginning when she was a child.
"All my life I've tried to be as independent as possible. I went to school here, I worked here," Mrs Nizar, 32, an Indian expatriate who was born in Dubai, studied and later taught at St Mary's High School. "I don't want to feel like a burden now."
She has two young sons, aged three years and seven months old.
It is difficult for her husband to push her wheelchair and a shopping cart, so he goes shopping while she stays at home with the children.
A recent Christmas visit to his home town in Nebraska was liberating for the mother when she discovered the motorised carts in many US stores.
"She was like a child cruising all over the stores with glee," said her husband, Adam J Timm, an American who works in the automobile industry.
"She went wherever she wanted on her own."
Mrs Nizar's cause has the backing of more than 200 families who belong to Special Families Support - a group for relatives of people with disabilities.
"If one supermarket or hypermarket provides this, others will follow," said the group's founder, Gulshan Kavarana.
"We are part of society. Why should we be denied?"
When contacted, managers at Wafi, Burjuman, Deira City Centre and Ibn Battuta malls did not indicate whether they would consider Mrs Nizar's request.
Back home in Dubai, Mrs Nizar says she is prepared for a long fight.
"I'm not going to keep quiet about this," she said.