In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), People of Determination aren’t just recognised, they’re celebrated. The term, used to describe those with disabilities in the UAE, embodies the nation’s commitment to inclusivity and empowerment. This article will give you a glimpse into the array of services, benefits, and initiatives designed to ensure that People of Determination can fully engage in all aspects of life.
From federal laws ensuring their rights and protections to providing financial aid, healthcare, education and employment opportunities, the UAE is leading the way in fostering an inclusive society. Whether you’re a Person of Determination, an ally, or just curious, this comprehensive overview and assessment of the UAE’s approach is a must-read.
In the UAE, ‘People of Determination’ is how they describe individuals with disabilities. This term is a testament to the UAE’s recognition of these individuals’ achievements, psychological abilities, and potential across various fields. It’s a broad term covering everything from temporary conditions like a broken leg or visual impairment to more permanent disabilities that could be physical, sensory, mental, communicational, educational, or psychological. The impact of these disabilities on a person’s life can vary greatly, and it’s worth noting that a person may have more than one disability.
The UAE government is dedicated to creating an inclusive society for People of Determination and their families. You can see this commitment in the services and facilities that accommodate their needs. For example, the government strongly supports special education and learning services for students with special needs. In 2018, the MOCD (Federal Ministry of Community Development) opened seven academic centres to serve over 800 Students of Determination each year. They also offer a job programme for People of Determination to pursue fulfilling, challenging work after they’ve finished their academic training.
Besides government initiatives, plenty of government and private organisations, centres, and clubs throughout the UAE provide training and rehabilitation to People of Determination. One such organisation is the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS), an independent organisation in the emirate of Sharjah that serves People of Determination in the UAE.
The UAE’s commitment to inclusivity isn’t just limited to its borders.
In March 2019, the UAE hosted the Special Olympics World Games, the first-ever World Games held in the Middle East and North Africa. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has also committed $25 million on behalf of the people of the UAE to support six countries in their efforts to empower People of Determination.
The UAE government provides specific services to benefit People of Determination. These services range from providing a medical card and rehabilitation to providing monthly social assistance, from providing jobs to translating documents into sign language and providing educational material in Braille. Websites and online services in the UAE are designed to be user-friendly for People of Determination, with features such as text-to-speech software and ALT text.
The UAE has laws in place to protect the rights of People of Determination and ensure their social inclusion. For instance, Dubai has its own law on the rights of People of Determination, which includes provisions for inclusive education, rehabilitation, job opportunities, healthcare, and other services. The UAE Cabinet has also approved a law to protect People of Determination from abuse and empower them and their families.
The UAE has a comprehensive legal framework to uphold the rights and privileges of People of Determination. This includes a national policy to empower these individuals and foster an inclusive society. The policy ensures access to various social, economic, health, educational, professional, cultural, and leisure services.
The law also safeguards the employment rights of nationals with special needs. It guarantees their right to work and occupy public positions and mandates employers to create a conducive work environment and make necessary accommodations to support their needs.
The National Policy for Empowering People of Determination mandates every government institution to have an official responsible for facilitating services for anyone with special needs. This includes the Ministry of Community Development, which has integrated services and creates job opportunities, and the Ministry of Interior’s Centers for Rehabilitation and Employment of People with Special Needs, which offers services and programmes.
Apart from national policies, there are specific laws in different emirates. For instance, Dubai Government Law No. 2 of 2014 aims to foster respect for the dignity of persons with disabilities, protect them from discrimination, abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and integrate them into society as effective members.
The UAE’s commitment to the rights of People of Determination also extends to the international arena, as it is a party to major international human rights treaties concerning people with special needs.
The UAE provides various benefits to People of Determination, aiming to empower them and ensure their active participation in society. One of the key benefits is financial aid, which is provided monthly as per Federal Law No. 2 of 2001. This aid is designed to support the unique needs of these individuals and their families, covering expenses such as:
- Rehabilitation fees
- Caregiver or personal assistant costs
- Professional qualifications
- Sign language interpreters
- Assistive technical devices
- Vehicle and workplace adaptations
In addition to financial aid, the UAE government provides specific services such as:
- Medical cards
- Job opportunities
- Translation services
- Educational material in Braille
Transportation is another area where People of Determination receive significant benefits. The UAE is committed to providing safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for these individuals. In Abu Dhabi, public facilities are becoming more accessible, and the government offers:
- Subsidised fares
- Free unlimited travel on buses
In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority provides services tailored for People of Determination, including:
- Exemptions from Salik toll
- Dedicated parking spaces
- Accessible public transportation
People of Determination in the UAE can also avail of a range of cards that provide access to services and benefits. The Ministry of Community Development issues an ID card for these individuals that offers benefits in various sectors. The Sanad Card, issued by the Community Development Authority, provides access to a range of services and benefits. The Fazza Hemam card is a premium card that provides access to exclusive services, privileges, and discounts.
The UAE government has also introduced a new logo for People of Determination, symbolising their active participation in society and their independence.
One of the key initiatives in the UAE to support people with special needs is the People of Determination (PoD) Card. This official document, issued by the MOCD, signifies that the holder is entitled to the services and rights as per the UAE Disability Act of 2006.
To apply for a PoD Card, a personal profile needs to be created on the MOCD website or via a smart app. The application process necessitates certain documents, including psychological or medical reports from a government hospital, a personal photo on a white background, and a copy of the Emirates ID. Following the submission of these documents, a diagnostic committee verifies the medical report. If the eligibility criteria are met, the PoD card is issued and delivered to the applicant’s location. The card is automatically renewed upon expiry and delivered via courier. In case of damage or loss, a replacement can be requested through the MOCD website or the Customer Happiness Centre.
The PoD Card offers a range of benefits, such as free entry to certain attractions, discounts on services, priority housing for disabled UAE citizens, and free vehicle licences.
In addition to the PoD Card, the CDA in Dubai offers the Sanad Card. This card is part of the initiative “My Community… A City for Everyone” and is designed to build a database for People of Determination in Dubai. The Sanad Card offers benefits such as discounts on selected products/services, home nursing services, and tourism services. It’s provided free of charge by the CDA and can be applied for through the CDA official website, CDA Customer Happiness Centre, CDA Dubai, and Sanad Communication Application.
Through entities such as the MOCD, CDA, and ZHO, the UAE government has made significant strides in providing online services for People of Determination. These services are user-friendly and accessible, with accessibility features such as text-to-speech software, options to increase text size, and the use of vivid colours.
One of the key initiatives was the launch of the Emirati sign language dictionary in 2018. This dictionary, which includes 5,000 words, aims to standardise the signs used by people with hearing impairments across the UAE. It’s a valuable tool for teaching people with hearing difficulties and training sign language translators.
In Abu Dhabi, public parking spaces, pavements, walkways, and other facilities are becoming more friendly for People of Determination. They’re also eligible for subsidised fares and free unlimited travel on buses in the city.
The application process for the PoD card involves submitting the application via the website or smart application, after which the department processes the request and validates the information provided. Once the data validation is successful, a card is issued to the applicant and dispatched through the postal service.
In 2019, the UAE government introduced a new logo for People of Determination, emphasising their active participation and independence in society. The Ministry of Community Development also adopted new symbols for different disabilities, in line with the UAE National Policy for Empowering People of Determination. This policy aims to empower and recognise the accomplishments of People of Determination in various fields.
The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs, and Ports Security is also crucial in empowering People of Determination. It provides equal and fair job opportunities for citizens who are People of Determination and offers appropriate training to enhance their knowledge of their role in building and developing human capital. The Authority also provides various services, such as a virtual sign language assistant and a text-to-speech service to enable People of Determination to access information published on the website.
The United Arab Emirates is setting an impressive example of inclusivity on both a national and international scale with its multifaceted approach to supporting People of Determination.
They provide resources like the PoD and Sanad cards and implement laws and policies protecting their rights. The UAE is determined to build an environment where People of Determination can thrive. Their ongoing efforts to create a more accessible virtual and physical landscape further highlight the extent of this commitment.
This region is full of inspiring initiatives, showing us how a society can uplift and empower its People of Determination. The UAE’s example continues to inspire us as we collectively work towards creating a cohesive society and a more inclusive world.