GAATES paving the way for an accessible Dubai
Americas, Built Environment, August 23 2017
In 2016 the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) was selected as the world’s leading experts in accessibility of the built environment and transportation by the Emirate of Dubai.
GAATES, a Canadian based NGO, assembled an international team of over 25 accessibility experts to implement a universally designed city in preparation for the world exposition ‘Expo 2020: Creating Minds, Creating the Future’.
The Emirate of Dubai made a landmark move by affirming to convert itself into a fully accessible city adopting the sub-themes of Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity.
Dubai is a global centre of trade and tourism in the United Arab Emirates with over three and a half million people. It is the world’s busiest international passenger transportation hub and the home of the world’s most dynamic architecture.
The United Arab Emirates have embraced the spirit of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which the Emirates ratified in 2010. GAATES worked in tandem with Dubai Executive Council. GAATES has wide experience working in the Middle East and understands cultural and climatic nuances of the region.
The project began with the auditing of existing conditions and interviews with key Emirati personnel responsible for the design of transportation services and those responsible for the design of the built environment, public rights of way and parks.
This was followed by the analysis of the most progressive accessibility codes and standards around the world and the development of the Dubai Universal Design Code for built environments, public rights of way and transportation. The Code lays out rules which mandate all new public spaces to follow the code and ensure accessibility. Concurrently, older buildings must now be retrofitted accordingly to fulfil the requirements as laid out in the code.
The drafting of legal requirements, an implementation strategy and training of key personnel completed the GAATES project. The government of Dubai has now launched their accessibility initiative and implementation is underway.
Buildings and services such as shopping malls, educational institutes, galleries and museums, airports, mosques and health services are included in this program. Through this project, Dubai aims to create a positive impact on everyone’s lives and not just persons with disabilities.
It is expected that the Expo will attract over 25 million visitors, many of which will be people with disabilities and older persons.