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File picture of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visiting a centre for the people of determination in Fujairah Image Credit: WAM

New York: The policies to empower people of determination and ensure their integration into society are an integral part of the UAE Government’s vision, the Minister of Community Development said during a conference in New York.

Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid

Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid made the remarks at the 15th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which took place from June 14 to 16 in New York.

Based on the aim of serving people of determination, the UAE is working to harmonise policies and legislation in line with the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, she added.

The UAE also participated in a side event titled ‘Disability in Pandemics and Crises: Technology Adaptation and Economic Empowerment’.

Supportive laws

She said the UAE promotes the rights of people of determination with numerous federal and local laws, which prioritise access to accommodation and ensure their needs are taken into account in various fields.

“These include the Response Policy to the Empowerment of People of Determination in Emergencies, Crises & Disasters, National Policy for Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder under the ‘United for Autism’ vision, the Electronic Access Policy for People of Determination, and other policies and laws that align with international legislation to support and empower people of determination.”

The minister underscored the important role the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) plays as an independent entity in the UAE that operates in accordance with the internationally adopted Paris Principles. The NHRI, she said, works to advance the rights of people of determination and improve their quality of life, adding that the UAE Government believes in international cooperation as a solid foundation to advance social development.

In addition, the UAE invested in Expo 2020 Dubai and organised many events supporting the rights of people of determination who make up the UAE’s community of 200 nationalities living in harmony.

National database

The minister also noted during her participation in the side event that the UAE Ministry of Community Development has built a database that includes accurate demographic, social, and educational data for more than 30,000 people of determination in the country. The UAE has issued identification cards that enable them to access many benefits, services, and facilities. During the pandemic in particular, the minister noted, this database helped identify the needs and geographical distribution of people of determination.

She pointed out that the UAE hosted an important event in cooperation with the League of Arab States and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), titled ‘Disability Classification in Arab Countries: Towards a Common Vision’, in which she presented her experience in formulating a unified national classification and its impact on services for people of determination, before and during the pandemic.

The minister also underscored the UAE’s keenness and appreciation for efforts to bolster cooperation, integration, and partnership with the League of Arab States, ESCWA, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Executive Office of the Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs to support and empower all members of society, especially people of determination.

She added: “One of the most important challenges facing service providers is to ensure comprehensive access, in light of crises, pandemics, and disasters, especially for people of determination. This is what the UAE Government has realised with its belief in the importance of communication and technology in advancing development, empowering people of determination socially and economically, and supporting their access to information.’’

Examples of such technological empowerment include the ‘Kheta’ electronic platform, the ‘My Family with Me’ application, and the early detection application, ‘Nemo’.

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The UAE also operated other digital and smart programmes to rehabilitate and empower people of determination by providing them with vocational training, supporting their employment, and enhancing their productivity. Remote workshops initiatives and e-marketing of products also enabled people of determination to participate, communicate, and interact with others in various fields and contexts.