Top officials, ministers, people of determination and Expo visitors participated in the 'White Cane March' on Friday Image Credit: Government of Dubai Media Office

Dubai: A ‘White Cane March’ was held at Expo 2020 Dubai on Wednesday to mark ‘International White Cane Day’ (October 15), observed worldwide every year to recognise the achievements of visually impaired people.

The march was led by Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of People of Determination.

The White Cane March featured the military band of Dubai Police. A number of senior officials, visually impaired people and Expo visitors participated in the event.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Community Development in collaboration with the Emirates Association of Visually Impaired.

Sheikh Mansoor said: “The UAE’s leadership is committed to creating an empowering environment for people of determination to participate equally in all sectors and spheres of life.”

He added: “The UAE believes in the power of inclusiveness, and in implementing it in its full spirit to provide people of determination with opportunities to realise their talent and potential and contribute to shaping the future of the nation. We will continue to spare no effort in enabling people of determination to not only function in society with ease and independence but also live their lives to the fullest.”

Sheikh Mansoor was accompanied by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development; Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai; and Abdullah Abdul-Ali Al Humaidan, Secretary-General of the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination.

People of determination-friendly

Buhumaid said: “Expo 2020 Dubai has paid special attention to organising a people of determination-friendly event by offering them privileges, services and facilities designed to make their experience exceptional. Expo 2020 Dubai seeks to be the best ever World Expo in history in terms of accessibility for people of determination. The symbolic march organised today reaffirms the UAE leadership’s commitment to ensuring the happiness and wellbeing of all people of determination.”

Part of Expo workforce

Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The extensive and high-level participation in the White Cane March shows the UAE’s commitment to integrating all members of the community without any exception and ensuring their wellbeing and happiness. This is clearly reflected in our efforts to promote human development and dignity.”

She added that efforts to address the needs of people of determination also extend to the events and programmes at Expo 2020. People of determination have also been provided all opportunities to be part of the workforce of the event.

Symbol and tool

Abdul Rahman Ahmed Al Bastaki, Director of the Emirates Association of Visually Impaired, said: “Celebrating the International White Cane Day demonstrates the sincere desire of social entities and individuals to raise public awareness about the importance of using the white cane; the white cane is not a symbol of visual impairment but one of the most important tools for their freedom and independence.”

He added: “White cane’s users have confidence in themselves without the need to seek others’ help. Each year, the association is keen to organise the White Cane March as well as educate the community on the importance of the white cane and its symbolic significance.”

Gifts for participation

At the end of the march, Etisalat gave away gifts to people of determination in recognition of their participation, emphasising the need for interaction, support and empowerment of people of determination in the UAE.

Dr Ahmed bin Ali, Senior Vice President - Corporate Communications, Etisalat, said: “Etisalat is honoured to be a main partner for this event. We seek to harness our vast technical capabilities to support and serve people of determination. Our participation in the International White Cane Day each year reflects our keenness to further strengthen our corporate social responsibility towards all the members of the community and find innovative solutions to enable people of determination to use telecommunications services and technical faciities easily and smoothly based on our strategy to empower communities and usher in a new digital future.”

Privileges at Expo

Expo 2020 Dubai offers free tickets to people of determination, while one of their companions can avail a 50 per cent discount. They can also obtain a range of services by presenting approved government cards such as: people of determination card and Sanad card in the UAE, as well as cards for Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments, EU card for people of determination, the USA’s ADA card for people of determination, and the French card for people of determination, among others.

Expo 2020 offers the ‘PoDium’ app, an interactive technology platform specifically designed to help people of determination tour the site and get information on accessible features and facilities in each pavilion. The site offers accessible facilities to a range of people of determination include those with visual and hearing impairment, intellectual impairment, dementia, photo-sensitive epilepsy and reduced mobility.

Expo 2020 also offers people of determination accessible services at Dubai’s airports and on Dubai Metro and Expo Rider buses and taxis, in addition to parking facilities at the venue and transport assistance to and from the car parks and within the venue.