When I was coming out from the Emirates’ jet at Dubai Airport, couple of days back, after a month long trip from Neepal, I saw a lady coming out from same plane in which I was traveling.
The lady was in her mid fifties and was of Nepalese origin. She was handicapped and on a wheel chair. As it seemed that she is traveling alone, just out of courtesy I offer to carry a heavy bag she was holding on her lap and accompanied her till cab holding area outside airport.
But those 40 minutes was nothing much than an ordeal for that lady. She faced lots of difficulties during immigration process, to name some.
1) There was not a single booth where she can scan her eye without getting out of wheel chair.
2) The immigration counters are made in such a way that they are suitable for a person standing, not for any handicapped person.
3) The taxi holding area does not have a proper ramp where handicapped person can sit on the cab, neither the buses have a lift which can be used by them.
On my way to home, I started thinking that with all that construction, developments, mono rail and this boom or that boom, Is Dubai is able to cater needs of handicapped people?
I asked the same question from my wife, who happens to be a practicing doctor of medicines in Sharjah. Well, her answer was quite different on the lines I was thinking. She said, special or handicapped people does not need any sympathy or direct help, instead they appreciate if you let them do their work themselves, this keep them motivated and improve their mental health. This also gives them confidence to take active parts in social activities and to play their role in society. I think Dubai or Dubaittes are not doing much in this respect.
But my question is still unanswered, THAT, whether Dubai is catering needs of these unfortunate people among us?
Though, there are specially reserved parking areas in all parking lots and shopping malls but 99% of the time you will find a 4×4 parked there. You will find special counters for handicapped people in hyper markets like Carrefour or Geant, but all the time normal (mentally retarded, including myself) people standing in queues, without realizing such counter are not for them (by the way same story goes for elderly people).
Again, no one have been successful in answering my question is Dubai is doing enough for handicapped? They are also part of our society and need same kind of privileges or attention as any other normal resident of this beautiful city. Personally speaking no matter what government authorities do (and am sure they will), we need to start making efforts ourselves, we need to encourage handicapped, on discussion with some friends, I come to know about Al Noor Centre (http://www.alnooruae.org/about.htm) in Dubai, which is a learning place for children with special need and as a father I know how much early learning matters. This weekend definitely I will pay them a visit.