Hessa Buhumaid attends 50th Special Olympics commemoration

DUBAI, 22nd July, 2018 (WAM) — Hessa Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, reiterated that the UAE, in line with the fundamentals established by the nation’s late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is a crucial contributor to the global movement that works to empower people of determination to achieve their socio-economic goals.

She pointed out that the country has acceded to and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The accession, she said, is reflected in all laws, ministerial decisions and national policies that guarantee a wide range of rights to people of determination and define the obligations of ministries, institutions and other bodies towards this important group of society.

The Minister’s comments were made during her visit to the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the Special Olympics in Chicago, USA.


Speaking on occasion, she said, “The UAE Government has launched the National Policy for Empowering People of Determination, which is based on the six pillars of Health and Rehabilitation, Education, Vocational Training and Employment, Outreach, Social Protection and Family Empowerment, and Public Life, Culture and Sports. This policy aims to create a barrier-free, inclusive society that allows persons with disabilities and their families to lead fulfilling lives by developing an effective support system. To send a positive message to society, the policy has renamed persons with disabilities in the UAE to people of determination. This gesture celebrates their strong motivation to contribute, create and achieve, and face the challenges of life with a positive spirit.”

During the international celebration, which will continue until today 22nd July, Buhumaid presented a summary of the UAE’s unique experience in implementing the National Policy for Empowering People of Determination. In coordination with various government and private entities, the Ministry of Community Development, MOCD, provides services for people of determination to ensure easy access to facilities, services, and information. Also, the Ministry also oversees the inventory and identification of needs before implementing necessary measures under best international practices.

Buhamaid added that the Ministry is currently working with relevant federal and local government agencies to develop a unified and comprehensive national classification of various disabilities in the UAE. This classification will serve as a national reference for stakeholders to provide services following the individual needs of people of determination regardless of the type of disability. It is expected that the classification will assist in raising the level of coordination and cooperation among the concerned parties to standardise detection and identification tools in a flexible manner that complies with global best practices in the field of disability.

She further highlighted the role of the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Community Development in empowering people of determination. The Council includes six members with disabilities from a total of 15 members. The Advisory Council is mandated to achieve the Ministry’s comprehensive sustainable development goals for people of determination and ensure the active engagement of all stakeholders in the achievement of those goals.

She also drew attention to the Recruitment Platform for People of Determination launched by the Ministry of Community Development to connect job-seeking people of determination with suitable vacancies in the public and private sector. The platform provides guidelines to help people of determination find job opportunities, pass interviews, and adapt with colleagues and work environments in general. Guidelines are also provided for employers on interviewing and dealing with people of determination in the workplace. Featuring illustrative examples of the different types of disabilities, they provide users with answers to queries on adjustments to work environments and other frequently asked questions.

During the presentation, attended by representatives from 50 US states and Canada, Buhumaid outlined the quality standards of the services provided to people of determination in government and private institutions in the UAE in a manner that best suits their needs and integrates appropriate ways of communicating to ensure speed and accuracy in the provision of services. She also highlighted that as part of this priority, the Ministry has brought out the first local sign language dictionary, which includes various reference terms used in the UAE community to facilitate the inclusion of deaf people into mainstream society.

Hessa Buhamaid discussed preparations for hosting the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games following the success of the 9th Special Olympics Regional Games that drew the participation of 1,000 players from 32 countries, and the presence of 12,000 spectators.

She said, “In the United Arab Emirates, preparations are underway to host the Special Olympics World Games next year. As the first city in the Middle East and North Africa to host such an important event, we are looking forward to welcoming more than 7,000 players and spectators.” The event, she said, will include cultural, social and recreational activities.

During her visit to Chicago, Buhumaid emphasised her support to the UAE national team participating in the Unified Cup in Chicago from 17th to 21st July 2018. The minister visited the team before its departure to the United States and attended part of the team’s training to motivate and encourage the players.

On the sidelines of her participation in the 50th-anniversary celebrations, Buhumaid held a number of meetings with prominent officials including Karen Tamley, Commissioner of the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in the United States, to discuss the policies and services provided for people with disabilities in Chicago.

She also met with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, one of the principal founders of the Special Olympics, who is credited with preparing a series of Olympic-style athletic competitions and introducing the idea of the games to Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968. They discussed the history of the Special Olympics and the impact of these games on the players, their families, and the wider society.

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