Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Challenges remain for disabled rights in UAE, says expert

Professor Eman Gaad said education was key to surmounting barriers

Author Victor Pineda at the launch of his book detailing the history of disability in the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National
Author Victor Pineda at the launch of his book detailing the history of disability in the UAE. Antonie Robertson / The National

The UAE still faces significant challenges in changing attitudes towards the disabled, a leading academic said on Wednesday.

Professor Eman Gaad, from The British University in Dubai, said more work was needed to ensure society accepted those with disabilities on equal terms.

Prof Gaad was speaking during the launch of a new book chronicling the city’s drive to improve disabled access.

Building An Inclusive City, written by Victor Pineda, provides a road map for other cities aiming to provide better facilities for people of determination.

“Dubai has always been an inclusive city but when it came to disability we needed to do some work,” said Prof Gaad.

“I am glad to see we have the right policies in place when it comes to physical accessibility.

“The challenge now is to avoid trying to be politically correct and doing someone a favour because they are disabled.

“It is about accepting they [those with disabilities] are equal and have the same rights as anyone else.”

Prof Gaad’s comments came days after UAE authorities launched a nationwide campaign aimed at increasing support for people with disabilities.

The drive, part of the legacy of the Special Olympic Games held in Abu Dhabi in March, includes a proposal, to be put before the country’s Executive Council, guaranteeing disabled people the right to work in the UAE.

Mr Pineda, whose book focused on the years 2007 to 2013, said he was grateful for the assistance of the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government in Dubai.

“This book documents how a transformation took place here [in Dubai],” the University of California, Berkeley lecturer said.

“Now the book can act as a guide for other cities that want to follow in Dubai’s footsteps in becoming accessible to people with disabilities.”

Updated: November 7, 2019 10:54 AM

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