In a move to become more disable friendly, Dubai government announced an ambitious new project to ensure Dubai’s buildings, facilities and roads and transport infrastructure is accessible for people with disabilities.
All new buildings including offices residential towers, educational institutions, stadiums and parks will have to be built in compliance with disable-friendly standards. Existing buildings and facilities will be “retrofitted” where possible to make them more disable-friendly as well.
The project details were revealed during a press conference at the stand of Dubai Executive Council at the Dubai International Government Achievements Exhibition.
The project, titled ‘Accessible Environments for People with Disability based on Universal Design’, is in line with the wider ‘My Community – A City for Everyone’ initiative to transform Dubai into a disable-friendly city by 2020.
Dubai government appointed a special team of officials from various government departments to spearhead the project. The project is already taking shape under a comprehensive study being led by a consultant. The budget of the study alone is Dh10 million.
The consultant is expected to deliver the main body of work by the end of 2016 while the pilot projects under the overall project will take shape by the first quarter of 2017.
Officials are selecting sites for implementation of the new standards so work can begin on them as soon as possible.
The project phases include assessing where Dubai currently stands regarding its access for people with disabilities, identifying the gaps, developing the standards and implementing the standards to fill those gaps.
“The project is a milestone in the roadmap to 2020,” said Abdullah Al Shaibani, secretary-general of Dubai Executive Council. Al Shaibani is also the vice-chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“We will have our own Dubai Standard scale to which the buildings will be compared. Based on that, the pilot projects will be applied to the scale,” he added.
Dr Salem Ali Al Shaifei, director of policies and programmes for rights of people with disabilities at the Council, informed that officials and the private sector will be trained as part of the project.
Majid Al Hussaimi, a member of the Higher Committee, said people with disabilities will be consulted in the project regarding their assessments as well as on the everyday challenges they face. “Nothing is being done without them. It’s not about us if it’s without us. The Dubai Standard will be one of the best examples in the world, a model for other standards,” he said.
Al Shaifei added that Dubai has some “good examples” of disable-friendly access but there are also some issues that need to amended. “For the new buildings, this will be taken care of right away. Older buildings in older areas can be a problem because they were not built according to the standards… A project of this kind has never been done before in Dubai.”