(MENAFN- Emirates News Agency (WAM))
DUBAI, 15th October 2021 (WAM) - H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of People of Determination, led the White Cane March held today at Expo 2020 Dubai on the occasion of International White Cane Day.
The march was organised by the Ministry of Community Development in collaboration with the Emirates Association of Visually Impaired. The International White Cane Day is observed worldwide every year on 15 October to recognise the achievements of visually impaired people and their movement from dependency to active participation in society.
Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed said: "The UAE's leadership is committed to creating an empowering environment for people of determination to participate equally in all sectors and spheres of life. The UAE believes in the power of inclusiveness, and in implementing it in its full spirit to provide people of determination with opportunities to realise their talent and potential and contribute to shaping the future of the nation. We will continue to spare no effort in enabling people of determination to not only function in society with ease and independence but also live their lives to the fullest."
His Highness was accompanied by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development; Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai; and Abdullah Abdul-Ali Al Humaidan, Secretary-General of the Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination.
The White Cane March featured the military band of Dubai Police. Etisalat supported the event as a Main Partner. A number of senior officials, visually impaired people and Expo visitors also participated in the event.
Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid emphasised that the White Cane March reflects the UAE's social values and its commitment to the welfare of various segments of the community. The event offered participants an opportunity to express their support for and solidarity with the visually impaired. she stressed on the need to inculcate a community culture that promotes sensitivity to the needs of people of determination and facilitates their independence, backed by the services, policies and initiatives of the UAE government and various entities.
She said: "Expo 2020 Dubai has paid special attention to organising a people of determination-friendly event by offering them privileges, services and facilities designed to make their experience exceptional. Expo 2020 Dubai seeks to be the best ever World Expo in history in terms of accessibility for people of determination. The symbolic march organised today reaffirms the UAE leadership's commitment to ensuring the happiness and wellbeing of all people of determination."
Buhumaid noted that the UAE seeks to promote active social participation of people of determination and provide them equal opportunities within an inclusive environment. The word 'people of determination' was coined to empower them to play an active role in the community and overcome all challenges.
The Minister of Community Development added that this national policy has been implemented in an integrated manner to ensure that buildings across the country are accessible to people of determination. The UAE's Universal Design Code supports this policy by creating a set of unified guidelines for designing accessible buildings, facilities and services, she added.
Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai said: "The extensive and high-level participation in the White Cane March shows the UAE's commitment to integrating all members of the community without any exception and ensuring their wellbeing and happiness. This is clearly reflected in our efforts to promote human development and dignity.
She stressed that Expo 2020 Dubai seeks to promote an international dialogue to create new opportunities and build a future centred on human dignity, while also fostering an environment that stimulates creativity, innovation and empowered leadership. "These themes are strongly reflected in the organisation of Expo 2020 Dubai. We have sought to address the needs of different segments of society and provided various facilities and services to ensure ease of access for all and a safe, seamless and exceptional visitor experience."
Al Hashemy added that efforts to address the needs of people of determination also extend to the events and programmes at Expo 2020. People of determination have also been provided all opportunities to be part of the workforce of the event.
Abdul Rahman Ahmed Al Bastaki, Director of the Emirates Association of Visually Impaired, said: "Celebrating the International White Cane Day demonstrates the sincere desire of social entities and individuals to raise public awareness about the importance of using the white cane; the white cane is not a symbol of visual impairment but one of the most important tools for their freedom and independence. Its users have confidence in themselves without the need to seek others' help. Each year, the Association is keen to organise the White Cane March as well as educate the community on the importance of the white cane and its symbolic significance.
He added that the march held at Expo is part of a new effort to raise awareness about the needs of people of determination among visitors of all nationalities within the framework of the Association's community awareness building programmes. At the end of the march, Etisalat gave away gifts to people of determination in recognition of their participation, emphasising the need for interaction, support and empowerment of people of determination in the UAE.
Dr. Ahmed bin Ali, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications at ETISALAT said: "Etisalat is honoured to be a main partner for this event. We seek to harness our vast technical capabilities to support and serve people of determination. Our participation in the International White Cane Day on 15 October each year reflects our keenness to further strengthen our corporate social responsibility towards all the members of the community and find innovative solutions to enable people of determination to use telecommunications services and technical facilities easily and smoothly based on our strategy to empower communities and usher in a new digital future."
Bin Ali added: "Etisalat lauds the efforts of the Ministry of Community Development and its pivotal role in supporting people of determination in various forums and events through many distinct initiatives. Etisalat places high priority on people of determination, as part of which we are keen to provide them a range of exceptional innovative services and develop new solutions to empower them by leveraging on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IOT), augmented reality, virtual reality and 5G.
Expo 2020 Dubai offers free tickets to people of determination, while one of their companions can avail a 50% discount. They can also obtain a range of services by presenting approved government cards such as: people of determination card and Sanad card in the UAE, as well as cards for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP), EU card for people of determination, the USA's ADA card for people of determination, and the French card for people of determination, among others.
Expo 2020 offers the 'PoDium' app, an interactive technology platform specifically designed to help people of determination tour the site and get information on accessible features and facilities in each pavilion. The site offers accessible facilities to a range of people of determination include those with visual and hearing impairment, intellectual impairment, dementia, photo-sensitive epilepsy and reduced mobility.
Expo 2020 also offers people of determination accessible services at Dubai's airports and on Dubai Metro and Expo Rider buses and taxis, in addition to parking facilities at the venue and transport assistance to and from the car parks and within the venue.
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