The Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, the cruise hub of the Middle East, has decreed that all people with disabilities are to be called ‘people of determination’ from now on, and it could be good news for disabled cruise passengers.
The announcement by the Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is part of a plan outlined last year that seeks to make the city the most disabled-friendly in the world by 2020.
The government of Dubai put aside US $3-million for an eight month study to plan how buildings, pavements, road infrastructure, buses, trains and marine and air transport can be made more suitable for use by disabled persons.
That plan will then be put into practise over the course of five years, during which ramps, sidewalks and other public infrastructure will be modified to be navigable by people in wheelchairs. According to local media reports, the uneven presence of ramps on pavements across Dubai makes it difficult for wheelchair users to get around.
However, the Dubai Metro and the city’s fleet of busses are already designed with wheelchair users in mind. In the image above, Dubai Taxi Corporation reveals its new fleet of wheelchair-accessible taxi vans.
This is all good news for disabled cruise passengers visiting Dubai and indeed the free shuttle coach service between Dubai Cruise Terminal and Dubai Mall and Mercato Mall are both wheelchair-friendly (at the time of writing).
The move is in-line with Dubai’s plans to have more than one million cruise tourists visit the city per year from 2020 onwards, and while disabled persons will make up a minority of that number, their numbers are still significant.
Hard facts are hard to come by, but according to Royal Caribbean, the market leader in the Middle East cruise sector, 12% of Americans with disabilities have taken a cruise in the past five years, compared to 10% of the general American public in the last three years, meaning that people with disabilities tend to favour cruises over other holidays.