DUBAI, 3 December 2021 – Expo 2020 Dubai showed its commitment to creating lasting, impactful opportunities for people of determination, and ensuring everyone is part of the support system, during International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on Friday, with a wide range of events on-site.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Special Olympics UAE and Expo 2020 Dubai to encourage people of determin
ation to participate in sport, whether they have intellectual or developmental disabilities, through the use of Expo’s Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub.
The agreement was signed by Talal Al Hashemi, National Director of Special Olympics UAE and Mohammed Al Hashmi, Chief Technology Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, and was attended by Special Olympics athletes Abdullah Adel, Mahmoud Jarour and Abdullah Al Falasi.
Mohammed Al Hashmi, Chief Technology Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “This is a very touching moment for me, especially seeing the heroes of determination. I don’t like to say ‘people of determination’, because they are our heroes. I am an uncle to a person of determination and I’ve seen him for more than 30 years – full of love, attention, and embracing everything that is good in life. And I’ve learned so much from him.”
Fatma Ebrahim Mohamed, Head of Strategy and Projects at Special Olympics UAE, works for the inclusion of people with disabilities in communities, and the day is very important to her: “The third of December marks a very important day internationally, not just in the UAE. We celebrate people with disabilities no matter what the disability is. But in the UAE, we celebrate our success, our achievements, and highlight how important they are as people, and as part of the [larger] community. Special Olympics UAE highlighted the powers of these people through various events, through sports, and we worked a lot on empowering these people.”
Athlete Abdullah Al Falasi said: “We thank the rulers of the United Arab Emirates for the great support they give to people of determination in various sectors, which helps them achieve great things in various fields, especially in sports.”
The ‘Shaping an Inclusive Future for All’ flagship event, co-curated with the UAE Ministry of Community Development, and in partnership with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, located at the Nexus for People and Planet venue, explored issues such as inclusive accessibility, education, work, innovation and technology, and sport. This panel was attended by Mohamed AlAydaroos, Associate, Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai, who is a person of determination: “I have faced so many challenges, but today, with the great leadership that we have in the United Arab Emirates, these challenges give hope to millions of people around me.
“Through hosting a certified accessible sensory event, we are offering an example to the world. We want to ensure that everyone enjoys the immersive setting and an enhanced visitor experience.”
Mariam Al Nahdi, Deputy Manager, Protocol and Guest Services, Expo 2020 Dubai, revealed some of the measures that the mega-event has adopted to ensure inclusivity for everyone: “All visitors can access the site through many means of transportation, such as the Dubai Metro and designated buses from all seven emirates, with allocated free parking and free tickets for people of determination, plus a 50 per cent discount on tickets for their companion. We also offer special vehicles to take them from the parking lot to the entry areas, and a dedicated entry track for their comfort, while the Expo Explorer train is accessible to wheelchairs, ensuring everyone can enjoy a unique tour around the global event.
“We have also provided Quiet Rooms across the site with innovative sensory equipment and relaxation areas for any visitor experiencing sensory overload or anxiety, while the sunflower ribbon allows people of determination to enter all the facilities designated for them, or request assistance from staff at any time during their visit, so we can provide them with a distinguished service.”
A Youth Circle panel, an interactive dialogue hosted by Expo 2020 Dubai and Federal Youth Authority (FYA), brought together both Emirati and global youth representatives to discuss how to shape an inclusive future for all and the policy steps required.
Other events included another unmissable performance by Dubai-based talent academy Rising Stars, which helps disabled children develop their skills, at the Opportunity Forum; while Muniba Mazari, Pakistan’s first UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and Pakistan’s first wheelchair-bound female TV host, shared her wisdom at an event titled ‘Pakistan – Connected Through Diversity’ at Jubilee Park earlier this week; and the USA Pavilion is hosting the two-time Paralympian and TEDx motivational speaker John Register until 4 December.