Shobhika Kalra worked with the RTA to get ramps built to improve access for the disabled at metro stations. Satish Kumar / The National
Shobhika Kalra worked with the RTA to get ramps built to improve access for the disabled at metro stations. Satish Kumar / The National

Dubai aiming to be one of world’s most disabled-friendly cities by 2020

DUBAI // Dubai is embarking on Dh10 million study that will steer it towards becoming one of the world’s most disabled-friendly cities by 2020.

Schools, hospitals, parks and transport are among the targets for change in the research, which was launched on Wednesday.

By the end of the year, four pilot projects to improve access will be chosen as models to be replicated across the city by 2020.

“This is the first step in our roadmap until we reach 2020,” said Abdullah Al Shaibani, vice chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“It is a long journey that requires a lot of effort and will start with an evaluation of what we have on the ground.

“We will bring all the international standards together to see what fits our environment.

“Once this is ready we will prepare standards to cover our buildings, parks, hospitals, infrastructure and public transport.”

Consultants and government officials will choose the sites for access development after spending the next eight months identifying areas where access is a problem.

The study will produce uniform standards for ramp sizes and width, building entrances and toilets.

Disabled people will be able to contribute their ideas and send photographs of problem areas through a hotline and smartphone application.

Khaled Al Kamda, director general of the Community Development Authority, said input from people with disabilities was critical.

“The whole project is about a barrier-free city,” Mr Al Kamda said. “Once we remove barriers and there are no obstacles, there is nothing they cannot do and nothing they cannot use.

The project includes a five-year plan to ensure that buildings, pavements, road infrastructure, buses, trains and marine and air transport are suitable.

Accessibility is “a challenge we face every day, so we have full experience of what is needed”, said Majid Al Usaimi, a committee member who uses a wheelchair.

Taking part in Wednesday’s launch were the Higher Committee, the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Municipality and the Community Development Authority.

Mr Al Usaimi said buildings must be made accessible to everyone after a 2014 decree by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to protect the rights of people with disabilities and support their participation in society.

Developments must incorporate the standards in their design, while older areas would need to be revamped, said Salem Alshafei, the Dubai Executive Council director of programmes for people with disabilities .

“We know the Metro system is accessible from inside, but outskirts of the stations have issues of access,” said Mr Alshafei. “The challenge lies in the existing city and some areas will have to be retrofitted.” For new areas, he said, no building permit would be issued, road designed, or transport order given unless they met the new codes.

Work on implementing the four pilot projects is expected to begin early next year.

“It will mean breaking kerbs to bring them lower, removing barriers, making road access wider and installing elevators where needed,” said Mr Alshafei. “We don’t want the pilots to just sit on paper but actually showcase the plan so people can realise the difference.”

Advocacy groups welcomed the initiative. “This is definitely the beginning and only when we voice our opinions will change happen,” said Shobhika Kalra, the founder of the group WingsOfAngelz.

The group’s volunteers work with hotels, malls and the RTA to build ramps for people using wheelchairs.

“People need to have more awareness of what people on wheelchairs are capable of.”

UAE central contracts

Full time contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ahmed Raza, Mohammed Usman, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Sultan Ahmed, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid

Part time contracts

Aryan Lakra, Ansh Tandon, Karthik Meiyappan, Rahul Bhatia, Alishan Sharafu, CP Rizwaan, Basil Hameed, Matiullah, Fahad Nawaz, Sanchit Sharma

Know your cyber adversaries

Cryptojacking: Compromises a device or network to mine cryptocurrencies without an organisation's knowledge.

Distributed denial-of-service: Floods systems, servers or networks with information, effectively blocking them.

Man-in-the-middle attack: Intercepts two-way communication to obtain information, spy on participants or alter the outcome.

Malware: Installs itself in a network when a user clicks on a compromised link or email attachment.

Phishing: Aims to secure personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Ransomware: Encrypts user data, denying access and demands a payment to decrypt it.

Spyware: Collects information without the user's knowledge, which is then passed on to bad actors.

Trojans: Create a backdoor into systems, which becomes a point of entry for an attack.

Viruses: Infect applications in a system and replicate themselves as they go, just like their biological counterparts.

Worms: Send copies of themselves to other users or contacts. They don't attack the system, but they overload it.

Zero-day exploit: Exploits a vulnerability in software before a fix is found.


2.30pm: Park Avenue – Conditions (PA) Dh80,000 (Dirt) 2,000m; Winner: Rb Seqondtonone, Abdul Aziz Al Balushi (jockey), Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

3.05pm: Al Furjan – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,200m; Winner: Bosphorus, Dane O’Neill, Bhupat Seemar

3.40pm: Mina – Rated Condition (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Royal Mews, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar

4.15pm: Aliyah – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (T) 1,900m; Winner: Ursa Minor, Ray Dawson, Ahmad bin Harmash

4.50pm: Riviera Beach – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 2,200m; Winner: Woodditton, Saif Al Balushi, Ahmad bin Harmash

5.25pm: Riviera – Handicap (TB) Dh2,000 (T) 2,000m; Winner: Al Madhar, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

6pm: Creek Views – Handicap (TB) Dh95,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: Al Salt, Dane O’Neill, Erwan Charpy

The story in numbers


This is how many recognised sects Lebanon is home to, along with about four million citizens


More than this many Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA in Lebanon, with about 45 per cent of them living in the country’s 12 refugee camps

1.5 million

There are just under 1 million Syrian refugees registered with the UN, although the government puts the figure upwards of 1.5m


The percentage of stateless people in Lebanon, who are not of Palestinian origin, born to a Lebanese mother, according to a 2012-2013 study by human rights organisation Frontiers Ruwad Association


The number of marriages recorded between Lebanese women and foreigners between the years 1995 and 2008, according to a 2009 study backed by the UN Development Programme


The number of people believed to be affected by the current nationality law, according to the 2009 UN study


This is how many Lebanese-Palestinian households there were in Lebanon in 2016, according to a census by the Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue committee

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat


2-15pm: Commercial Bank Of Dubai – Conditions (TB) Dh100,000 (Dirt) 1,400m; Winner: Al Habash, Patrick Cosgrave (jockey), Bhupat Seemar (trainer)

2.45pm: Al Shafar Investment – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (D) 1,200m; Winner: Day Approach, Ray Dawson, Ahmad bin Harmash

3.15pm: Dubai Real estate Centre – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Celtic Prince, Richard Mullen, Rashed Bouresly

3.45pm: Jebel Ali Sprint by ARM Holding – Listed (TB) Dh500,000 (D) 1,000m; Winner: Khuzaam, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson

4.15pm: Shadwell – Conditions (TB) Dh100,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Tenbury Wells, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer

4.45pm: Jebel Ali Stakes by ARM Holding – Listed (TB) Dh500,000 (D) 1,950m; Winner: Lost Eden, Andrea Atzeni, Doug Watson

5.15pm: Jebel Ali Racecourse – Handicap (TB) Dh76,000 (D) 1,950m; Winner: Rougher, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson

The biog

Occupation: Key marker and auto electrician

Hometown: Ghazala, Syria

Date of arrival in Abu Dhabi: May 15, 1978

Family: 11 siblings, a wife, three sons and one daughter

Favourite place in UAE: Abu Dhabi

Favourite hobby: I like to do a mix of things, like listening to poetry for example.

Favourite Syrian artist: Sabah Fakhri, a tenor from Aleppo

Favourite food: fresh fish


Mr Kandhari is legally authorised to conduct marriages in the gurdwara

He has officiated weddings of Sikhs and people of different faiths from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Russia, the US and Canada

Father of two sons, grandfather of six

Plays golf once a week

Enjoys trying new holiday destinations with his wife and family

Walks for an hour every morning

Completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Loyola College, Chennai, India

2019 is a milestone because he completes 50 years in business