Egypt opens beach for visually impaired in Alexandria

Al Mandara on the Mediterranean coast accommodates people of determination as part of a wider national effort to support disabled citizens

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Visually impaired and blind Egyptians can now better enjoy the sea after a public beach was opened to accommodate them in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast.

“We have been asking for this for several years now and thank God it came to fruition,” Tarek Khalifa, board member at the Alexandria Association for the Blind, told The National.

The specially equipped area, which opened this month, is part of a beach designed specifically for people of determination that was inaugurated in Al Mandara last year.

It comes amid a national effort to increase the number of public recreation areas available for people with disabilities and to support them with better services.

A path that extends to the shore allows people using wheelchairs to gain access to the beach and workers help them in various capacities. This summer, a platform was added to help people using wheelchairs to enter the water.

Blind and visually impaired swimmers can hold on to floating ropes while in the water and are given whistles in case they need help. A shallow entryway with cork buoys allows people to move around in a restricted area while under the close supervision of lifeguards.

The beach is free of charge, open daily and can accommodate between 100 and 150 people with their families.

A lifeguard helps visually impaired children swim at Al Mandara beach on the Mediterranean coast in Alexandria. Reuters

The Alexandria Association for the Blind now organises field trips to the beach, which the programme's children have thoroughly enjoyed, Mr Khalifa said.

“We try to make them happy,” he said. “A protective area for them is good, so they don’t harm themselves and others don’t bother them.”

About 175 boys and girls from preschool age to high schoolers participate in various activities at the association, including learning braille, making handicrafts and taking computer courses.

Even more children — up to 250 — attend the association’s field trips and 600 families are supported through charity.

In 2018, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued the Rights of Persons with Disabilities law, which calls for non-discrimination, equality and respect.

This was followed by the formation of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities in 2019.

Mr El Sisi also established the Differently Abled Fund in December to improve services for people with disabilities, including in the healthcare, education and sports sectors.

Updated: July 26, 2022, 6:17 PM