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Permanent committee for human rights logo




The UAE government coined the term ‘people of determination’ in 2017. The decision to refer to people with disabilities in this way redefined their capabilities by removing negative connotations.

The understanding of the word ‘disability’ suggests an inability to make progress. However, according to the UAE’s framework and considering the achievements made by persons with disabilities, determination and resilience are key to overcoming all obstacles. The UAE has established a national approach based on transforming challenges into opportunities for growth, and building a society based on the principles of justice, equality, and respect for human rights.

Persons with disabilities are considered equals, and any form of discrimination against them is prohibited. 

In 2010, the UAE ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The UAE is focused on empowering its vulnerable groups by supporting them to lead independent and dignified lives. In the UAE, persons with disabilities benefit from an inclusive environment that provides them with security, motivates them to play a prominent role in the country’s development, and enables them to achieve their aspirations and ambitions. Laws protect persons with disabilities, and guarantees access to education, adequate housing suited to their needs, healthcare, and employment to ensure that they can live independently.

In 2019, the UAE became the first country in the MENA region to host the Special Olympics World Games, which were established 50 years ago and are largely considered the most integrated in the history of the Special Olympics movement.


The UAE has taken many steps at the regulatory, economic and social levels to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, and to empower them according to UAE Federal Law No. 29 of 2006, as amended by Federal Law No. 14 of 2009, which guarantees the rights of persons with disabilities in all health, educational, vocational and social fields.

In 2017, the UAE launched the National Policy for Empowering Persons with Disabilities under the Ministry of Community Development to enhance social integration.

The National Policy for Empowering Persons with Disabilities embodies the UAE's integrated social approach, which is based on the notion that investing in individuals is an investment in the comprehensive and sustainable development of society, and that each individual can contribute if provided with the right opportunity and a conducive environment.

The Policy revolves around six main pillars: health, rehabilitation and accessibility; education; social protection and family empowerment; public life; culture; and sports.

The National Classification of Disabilities

The Ministry of Community Development, in collaboration with concerned federal and local governmental entities developed a unified national classification of disabilities in the UAE, as per the Cabinet Decision No. (3) of 2018. This classification was needed to include all types of disabilities at the national level and serve as a national reference used by all entities providing services to persons with disabilities. The aim of the classification is to provide services and meet the needs of persons with disabilities, considering their individual needs regardless of the type of disability. This classification helped improve coordination and cooperation among relevant entities in standardizing tools for identifying and determining the needs of persons with disabilities. The classification is flexible and open to incorporate best international practices in the field of disability, to accommodate the categories of disabilities recognized in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Introducing the title "Persons with Disabilities Service Officers" in the UAE:

According to the Cabinet decision No. (1/6) of the year 2017, the persons with disabilities service officers in all service agencies are assigned with tasks that ensure the application of the best international quality standards for serving persons with disabilities in relevant entities, in terms of accessibility to facilities, services, information, and others, identify and determine the necessary needs for the persons with disabilities in the relevant entity, and take the necessary measures to provide them with the required capabilities in accordance with the best international practices.

The Launch of Supporting Policies & Initiatives for Persons with Disabilities

The UAE government launched in the past years a set of supporting policies for the rights of persons with disabilities in various areas such as health, education, employment, accessible environment, cultural and sports life, as follows:

Forming the Higher Committee for Persons with Disabilities Services in the UAE:

The Higher Committee for persons with disabilities services in the UAE was issued by Cabinet Decision No. (20/6) of 2019 under the supervision of the Ministry of Community Development and membership of representatives from federal and local government entities/authorities that are concerned with disability issues in the UAE. The committee is responsible of the following tasks: Proposing legislations, policies and initiatives to protect persons with disabilities, monitoring national policies to empower persons with disabilities, anticipating the future needs of persons with disabilities in the UAE and ensuring the inclusiveness of services provided to them.

Forming Persons with Disabilities Advisory Council:

Issued by the Cabinet Decision No. (1/6) of 2017, the persons with disabilities Advisory Council were formed, with six persons with disabilities members out of a total of 15 members. The council members represent associations, institutions, and persons with disabilities’ parents from federal and local government entities that are concerned with persons with disabilities. The "Advisory Council" is an effective step towards achieving the comprehensive sustainable development goals for all the members of the community and ensuring the inclusion of every individual as a supportive and assisting council to provide advice and contribute directly to achieving the targets of the national policy to empower persons with disabilities. The council was reformed in 2020 to include new members.

Persons with Disabilities Protection Policy Against Abuse:

The persons with disabilities protection policy against abuse was issued by the Cabinet Decision No. (2/13) of 2019. The policy includes initiatives and objectives that the UAE aspires to achieve protection of persons with disabilities from different forms of abuse, including prevention, early intervention to protect the victims of abuse, subsequent rehabilitation to ensure their mental health and self-protection capabilities. The policy also includes developing the capacities of professionals working with persons with disabilities and their guardians to identify and address different forms of abuse.

The Response Policy to Empower Persons with Disabilities in Emergencies, Crises, and Disasters:

The Cabinet adopted this policy in 2021 to ensure the continuity of providing rehabilitation, educational, and health services to persons with disabilities in emergencies, crises, and disasters, equally to their peers and without discrimination. It also aims to provide necessary support when needed and to respond promptly to persons with disabilities’ individual needs.

The National Policy to Empower people with Autism:

The Cabinet adopted The National Policy to Empower people with Autism in 2021. The policy constitutes an integrated system of procedures and standardized criteria to provide easier services for individuals with autism and their parents, in addition to rehabilitate and enhance the competence of the staff in specialized centres and improve the surrounding health environment. It aims to raise community awareness about autism spectrum disorder, facilitate the inclusion of people with autism in public and private education, and ensure their involvement in various fields. The policy guarantees the provision of high-quality services for people with autism through a set of core pillars, namely: diagnosis, healthcare, human resources, educational inclusion, awareness, and community empowerment.

The UAE Universal Design Code:

The UAE Universal Design Code aims to ensure accessibility and use of all individuals, including persons with disabilities to all buildings, facilities, transportation independently in accordance with the local UAE environment and based on the best global practices. The code improves the level of accessibility for persons with disabilities to buildings and facilities, and improves their use of transportation, thus enhancing their inclusion in the community.

Persons with Disabilities Quality Standards in Governmental & Private Entities (Imteyaz Guide):

It includes a set of necessary standards that should be provided by service entities in order to provide their services with a high level of efficiency for the persons with disabilities in line with their needs, communication and interaction. To ensure speed and accuracy in providing services equally with their peers. The guide includes standards for buildings, facilities, and products, as well as how to quickly access information, adequate environment and suitable information for the persons with disabilities.

Emirates Early Intervention Program:

The program offers its services in most of the Emirates through early intervention departments and the early intervention centre in Dubai for children with developmental delay and those at risk of developmental delay ranging from birth to 6 years. This program is also provided through classrooms and individual family services program. At 6 years old, the cases are transferred into inclusive education or disability centres with transition plans beginning six months earlier before the transition date.

“Nomow” Smart Application:

It is an application for developmental screening of children under the age of 6, to detect any signs of developmental delay thus refer them at an early stage to the UAE Early Intervention Program. The smart application includes basic developmental skills (social, motor, communicative, cognitive) so that families can test their children according to the child's age in order to detect any possible developmental delay and refer the children to the relevant authorities to provide them with the most appropriate services.

Persons with Disabilities Database (Persons with Disabilities):

The Ministry of Community Development provides a database of persons with disabilities all over the UAE which includes data of all the persons with disabilities according to the unified national classification of disabilities based on the emirate, nationality, gender and other information related to education and employment. The Ministry of Community Development issues the persons with disabilities card to eligible individuals, so the card represents the official and only document that guarantees their rights according to the federal law No. (29) of 2006. The card also provides holders with a range of benefits, discounts, and facilities according to the type of disability, by various federal, local, and private entities in all emirates.

Emirati Sign Language Dictionary:

The first local Emirati dictionary for people with hearing impairments has been adopted in the UAE, according to Cabinet Decision No. (2/6) of 2018. The dictionary includes various sign language terms used in the local UAE environment culture. The dictionary enhances the right of the people with hearing impairments to use and facilitate their social inclusion.

Investment in Healthcare for Persons with Disabilities

The UAE is committed to providing accessible healthcare services to persons with disabilities. For instance, the Ministry of Health and Prevention has issued a special health card that allows persons with disabilities to receive all medical services free of charge through all of its facilities. The Ministry of Community Development also provides persons with disabilities with a card enabling them to obtain free insurance and health services for their children.

The Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination provides assessment services for the mental and psychological health of persons with disabilities, along with rehabilitation treatment programmes to develop sensory integration, neurodevelopment, sensory-motor and balance skills.

In Abu Dhabi, persons with disabilities can easily access emergency medical services by sending a text message to 5999. In Dubai, the Community Development Authority has launched the Sanad Smart Card, which enables persons with disabilities to obtain benefits and access services provided by various entities.

In Sharjah, the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) provides a wide range of services for persons with disabilities, giving them confidence and the possibility to live in an equal opportunity society. Ras Al Khaimah has provided special services for persons with disabilities in public transports and health centres, among others. Similar services are provided across all Emirates.

Persons with disabilities both nationals and residents can benefit from free services nationwide through several government hospitals. The Ministry of Community Development also offers a guide of governmental and community centres that provide health services to persons with disabilities in an effort to ensure that information is easily accessible.

Equal Rights in Employment

Persons with disabilities in the UAE, whether citizens or residents, have equal rights to employment in the public sector. The law states that government agencies must provide equal opportunities without discrimination against persons with disabilities.

The Cabinet decision No (43) of 2018 approved the persons with disabilities work support policy through a set of articles that maintain their rights in all the recruitment stages, employment, training, and job retention, including reasonable accommodation, away from the "quota" system, to ensure their decent and equal employment opportunities. The decision also requires government agencies to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, and prohibits the termination of contracts due to a disability, whether it occurred during or before their employment, unless they reach retirement age, or if a medical committee advises that they are unable to work. The resolution mandates private sector institutions to integrate persons with disabilities into their workforce, and grant them exemptions and privileges.

Several government entities participate in empowering persons with disabilities in the workforce. For example, the Ministry of Community Development connects persons with disabilities with employment opportunities based on their qualifications and capabilities.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Interior's Rehabilitation and Employment Centres provide them with training, and support with job-seeking. 

Persons with Disabilities Employment Platform:

The UAE government launched an online platform for the employment of persons with disabilities, aimed at encouraging this category to register through the platform to highlight their professional and practical capabilities and skills, in addition to encouraging federal, local, and private entities to offer job opportunities available to them. The employment platform contributes to identifying the number of persons with disabilities who wish to work, and the entities wishing to employ them, in addition to all available jobs and vacanciest hat align with their abilities and intrests, and providing support for persons with disabilities and organizations in the initial stage of work, as well as creating suitable work environments for them and finally help them adapt and achieve professional stability, thus enhancing the concept of comprehensive inclusion to ensure their wellbeing and equal opportunities.

Mashagel Workshops:

It is a project aimed at entrepreneurship of the persons with disabilities by training them to open their own projects from home with the aim of marketing these sustainable products and giving the financial returns to the persons with disabilities leaving a financial, social and phycological impact on them.

Rehabilitation Centres For Persons with Disabilities

The federal governmental rehabilitation centres for persons with disabilities are affiliated with the Ministry of Community Developmentin and are distributed in the Emirates of Dubai, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, in addition to the city of Dibba Al Fujairah.

These centers serve persons with disabilities in northern Emirates, providing educational, training and rehabilitation programs from the early childhood stage up to 18 years, according to individualized educational and therapeutic plans that suit each student and their needs. After this stage, students move to the vocational rehabilitation stage which includes employment in small private projects or joining the open labor market.

These centers also include the Early Intervention Center in Dubai and other early intervention units across various emirates, which provide training and rehabilitation services to children with disabilities, developmental delays, and those at risk of disability under the age of six years old, in addition to empowering their families to deal with them and train them in natural environments in which they live, in order to facilitate their transition to inclusive education as much as possible.

Innovative Tools to Support Education

The UAE has a unique approach to education for persons with disabilities. Each student is provided with a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for emotional, intellectual, physical and social growth.

The country has made substantial efforts in integrating students with disabilities into the mainstream education system. This was embodied in strategies for adapting and equipping public schools, as well as implementing best practices and novel solutions, to ensure students with disabilities can fully access education services without barriers.

In 2008, the UAE established the Persons with Disabilities Department (formerly the Special Education Department)under the Ministry of Education, which works to promote and ensure the rights of students with disabilities, and provide them with equal educational opportunities, in addition to specialised teachers.

All special services and assistive technologies are provided free of charge in public schools. The initiatives have reached 80% of public schools in the country.

Special education programmes are in place to cover the needs of as many students as possible. The categories covered include learning disabilities, physical disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment, speech and language disorders, autism, emotional and behavioural disorders, and intellectual disabilities. The Ministry has also created innovative mobile applications and assistive technology tools to support persons with disabilities.

“Khetta” Platform for Educating Persons with Disabilities

It is an online platform aimed at setting individual educational goals for students at persons with disabilities federal governmental centres. These educational goals are implemented electronically in collaboration with the professional team and parents. The platform helps monitor and track children's progress electronically in the form of charts in various cognitive, communicative, social, and motor fields.

Accessible Transport

Most public buses across the UAE are designed to be accessible. Special taxis are available in most emirates, and the UAE also grants free parking permits in public areas to persons with disabilities, while dedicated private parking spaces are available across the country.