Sharjah has been declared a “Child Friendly City” by the United Nations Children’s Fund.
The accolade is the first for a city in the Arabian Gulf and only the second in the region, joining Jordan, which has four municipalities who have adopted Unicef's Child Friendly Cities Initiative.
To be accepted as child friendly, cities must follow a series of principles and initiatives for children’s rights and promote them to the fullest extent in both the public and private sectors.
There are currently 31 countries with Child Friendly Cities initiatives, with the UAE now the latest member of the club.
Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, said: “Our key goal has been, and always will be, to provide the sound foundations for a society where everyone can participate in shaping a future that is fit their ambitions and ours.”
He added: “Taking care of our children is a divine duty and a commitment towards our stability. It reinforces our goals of humanitarian values and compassion, which I believe are the bridges that lead to excellence in all aspects of life.”
Louise Thivant, Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Unicef said she had “followed the work carried out in Sharjah closely over the past couple of years, and I have been encouraged to observe the great commitment to work together with children and young people in Sharjah and to improve their lives and futures. I have also observed that the commitment to make Sharjah child-friendly started before the decision to become a Child Friendly City was made.”
Also attending the ceremony to mark Sharjah becoming child friendly was Rashid Al Suwaidi, a member of Sharjah Children and the Children’s Shura Council, who said “Sharjah always offers us numerous options to have fun and enjoy entertainment activities, whether at school or children’s and youth centres.”