Dubai: From public places and airports to police stations, Dubai is fast evolving as a disabled-friendly city.
The Community Development Authority (CDA) is working towards widening the cooperation between major entities across Dubai to achieve the target of making the city POD-friendly at a faster pace.
Dr Sheikha Alia Al Qassimi, Social Development expert for PODs at CDA, said on Wednesday: “Our efforts are more focused on the feedback we receive from the community, especially children, parents, focus groups and other stakeholders. It is a constant ongoing process.”
She was peaking at the Knowledge Hub, held as part of the three-day AccessAbilities Expo 2023 that concluded in Dubai on Wednesday.
Organised by Nadd Al Shiba PR and Events Management, the annual exhibition catering to the PODs is organised under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.
“Many a time the feedback we receive is based on common experiences. However, each department comes up with completely different feedback. We process the recommendations, analyse and give our own recommendations and feedback. The idea is to make all our policies and guidelines relevant, based on the experiences, and focused on creating an environment for the whole country to be disabled-friendly, said Dr Al Qassimi.
Explaining the ongoing initiatives, she added: “We are constantly evaluating the facilities at the buildings and overall progress. We have tied up with various entities and are training their staff and giving recommendations in an effort to reintegrate PODs into society and make them suitable.”
POD-friendly police stations
During the session, Mohammad Al Hajajji, secretary of Empowering People of Determination at Dubai Police, revealed that all police stations in Dubai are now POD-friendly.
“In association with the CDA, we have successfully converted all buildings of Dubai Police as disabled-friendly. We have managed to create an environment where, from the time they enter the building, they are in an environment where their mobility, interaction and support are taken care of. We also believe that we need to focus on humans and not just buildings,” Al Hajajji said.
He said the department has also taken all steps to ensure that PODs enjoy a seamless experience both in public places and across all Dubai Police premises.
“At Dubai Police, we have created a checklist of what all needs to be done. All police personnel are trained to deal with PODs, be it at the airport or public places, in the most caring and appropriate manner. We have created a series of facilities both in terms of infrastructure as well as services. We have interpreters and translators in sign language.”
Dubai Police has been working towards facilitating an autism-friendly community, he pointed out.
According to him, Dubai stands at the forefront of POD-friendliness. “As envisaged by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the emirate needs to be in the No. 1 position in all aspects of human development,” he said, adding that at Dubai police the leadership understands that it is easy to reach the top but it is more important to consistently retain that position.
POD-friendly DXB and DWC
Fatma Taher, manager of Government Agenda at Dubai Airports, said Dubai, being the world’s busiest international hub, has also taken measures to make the facility comfortable and convenient for PODs.
She revealed that dnata is offering a 20 per cent discount to all POD travellers on the DUBZ service, where check-in bags are picked up from passengers’ homes.
Moreover, Dubai Airports recently signed an MoU with the Dubai Autism Centre (DAC) to make it more accessible and inclusive for people with determination.
“We want all sections of society to enjoy their travel experience, and we are committed to ensuring that this is the same or even better for PODs at both Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC),” she said.
DXB has introduced a range of features for POD travellers, including a travel planner for pre-travel preparation and an Autism Friendly Route, offering a prioritised route for check-in, passport control, security checkpoints and boarding. The airport will also have specially trained Guest Experience Ambassadors and employees who can be identified by sunflower pins on their uniforms.