The Ministry of Social Development on Monday celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities for the year 2021 under the patronage of Her Highness Mona bint Fahd bin Mahmoud al Saeed, in the presence of Dr Laila Ahmed al Najar, Minister of Social Development, and a number of under-secretaries, high-level officials and media representatives.
This year's celebration comes under the theme "Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world in the post-Covid-19 pandemic". The United Nations adopted this slogan due to the impact of the spread of Covid 19 on various aspects of people’s lives in general and persons with disabilities in particular, as they are more vulnerable to the virus due to the many social and environmental barriers and infrastructure conditions.
In his speech, Hamoud bin Mirdad al Shabibi, Director General of Persons with Disabilities, said, “Arab governments, civil society institutions and international organisations have sought to identify the effects of the pandemic, including people with disabilities; the most recent of which was the United Nations Virtual Ministerial Forum on “The Future of Social Protection in the Arab Region: Building a Vision for the Post-Covid-19 Pandemic Reality” held on November 30, 2021.
This vision focused on the importance of comprehensive social protection programmes in the Arab countries, as well as allowed the creation of new policies and progress in the field of social protection as a whole. This was confirmed by the Sultanate of Oman in its participation, as well as the conference and ministerial forum and the 41st session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs held on December 22 and 23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
He added that at the local level, the Sultanate of Oman has taken a set of preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus among persons with disabilities with the contribution of everyone, including the disabled, to achieve the sustainable development goals. Persons with disabilities and the institutions that represent them throughout the Sultanate of Oman are taking the necessary measures to translate the slogan: “We are indispensable in matters that concern us” into a tangible reality.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, work mechanisms have been developed and harmonised to take into account the protection of persons with disabilities, the most important of which is the work of the individual sessions system, the creation of the spatial environment, the provision of requirements for the staff and the implementation of safety in buses. These procedures are subject to continuous follow-up to ensure adherence to them," he affirmed.
Al Shabibi said that the National Committee for the Care of Persons with Disabilities approved the preparation of “a national guide for engineering specifications for an inclusive built environment and means of transportation for people with disabilities” with the participation of the competent governmental authorities and civil society institutions. This guide will guarantee the right of persons with disabilities to have easy access to various services, and it will be easier for the various competent authorities to apply international and national standards to make the environment and means of transportation easy to access and use.
“The Sultanate of Oman seeks, with the countries of the world, to adopt a disability-aware approach in efforts to address and recover from the pandemic, expand the opportunities available to access technology, and strengthen institutions to get out of the Covid-19 pandemic to a better world in terms of embracing everyone, ease of living and its components in the field of sustainability; to ensure the provision of quality programmes and services for persons with disabilities”, he asserted.
He also said, “In implementation of the directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik , the Sultanate of Oman has witnessed a quantitative expansion and a qualitative development in the programmes and services provided by the Ministry of Social Development to achieve comprehensive social integration, and the transition of performance from the sponsorship concept to a development concept based on partnership, empowerment and equality .
On behalf of their counterparts from the disabled, Balqees in Hebreal Abri, Khamis al Sharji and Durar al Ameriya , expressed their happiness at being an integral part of this world, which pledged to guarantee them everything that would preserve their rights to a decent life. In a compiled speech, they said "the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on the 3rd of December of each year, is an opportunity to renew societies' interest in our reality and prove our abilities and skills that qualify us to obtain all the facilities necessary to deal with various aspects of life."
They pointed out "through this celebration, government of the Sultanate of Oman under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik represented by the Ministry of Social Development, confirms its interest in people with disabilities, and its keenness to ensure that they enjoy what all other citizens in this country enjoy. As we appreciate all the efforts made by the government and private sectors, and civil society institutions, we call for our aspirations to be prioritised, especially as the Sultanate of Oman is undergoing a renewed phase of its great renaissance, achieving all that the vision of Oman 2040, to achieve our great hopes for improving the services and facilities offered to us that take into account the developments of the times”.
They added, "There is no doubt that the quality of the services provided to the individual that contribute to building and rehabilitating him has a great impact on him playing his role whenever he has the opportunity to participate in work for the service of his country. And this is what we, people with disabilities, aspire to, and we hope that our roles will complement what the government offers, the private sector, and the civil sector without neglecting the role of our families. With each party doing its part, the results will be favorable to those aspirations.”
The ceremony included a visual show with five creative personalities of people with disabilities, a three-dimensional movie entitled “My Right is Guaranteed”, a poetry show, and a music show by the Omani orchestra.