As a nation built on tolerance, the UAE has historically made great strides to create a culture of unity.
And it’s with this commitment to continue Sheikh Zayed’s ethos that a national policy has been unveiled to promote inclusion and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.
The National Policy to Empower People of Determination will work to create an inclusive and restriction-free society for people of all ages with special needs.
With a focus on health, education, culture and public life, the policy aims to identify challenges, provide solutions and promote equal opportunities nationwide.
On a local level, the first steps of this growing movement are already evident around the capital.
Students from the Special Care Center, a non-profit school for children with special needs, recently attended hospitality workshops at hotels such as the Centro Capital Centre to get a taste for working life, while the SEDRA Foundation, which provides services for educational development, research and awareness for inclusion, established the Youth Talent Club. The scheme that helps young adults with disabilities develop skills and independence with vocational training recently saw a group of young adults take to the stage at an open mic show Rooftop Rhythms (pictured, below).
“[The new national policy] is a move in the right direction, because it gives the community and society a language to talk about disability,” explained Renate Baur-Richter, programme manager at SEDRA.
While the national initiative will shed light on a cause that needs it, the next step is taking
that awareness and making positive change, urged Renate.
“Raising awareness is always good, but now we need action,” Renate reflected. “We need to build knowledge and lead by example; it’s about creating an accessible environment and opening up society in all sectors, such as education and the workplace.”
“These are only small steps. But every small step and every new discussion we have only pushes us further towards future change.”