Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 1 December 2023: Dubai Airports proudly marks the one-year anniversary of its ground-breaking 'We All Meet the World Differently' programme, just ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December.
The two-year programme, a collaborative effort with various stakeholders placing community engagement at its core, has steadfastly advanced initiatives to foster an inclusive environment across Dubai International (DXB). This aligns with Dubai's vision to be the world's leading disability-friendly city, ensuring a barrier-free community that empowers and welcomes all People of Determination (POD) travellers with hidden disabilities.
Majed Al Joker, COO of Dubai Airports, said, “As we celebrate the success of our comprehensive programme, we are humbled by the transformative impact it has had on our guests. Dubai Airports remains resolute in our pursuit to create an environment where every individual, regardless of their abilities, feels empowered and welcomed.'
The programme includes tailored services— the Sunflower Lanyard Programme discreetly identifies and assists POD guests, granting access to priority lanes and an autism-friendly route prioritising check-in, passport control, security checkpoints, and boarding. Complementing this, the launch of a travel planner offers a step-by-step visual guide for passengers with hidden disabilities to navigate the airport seamlessly.
A bespoke hidden disability service training and awareness programme was curated and launched, targeting 33,000 airport staff across DXB service providers to enhance their knowledge and understanding of visible and non-visible disabilities. Additionally, complimentary two-hour parking, specialised assistance at customs and immigration, dedicated taxis, and wheelchair services— marked significant milestones in DXB's commitment to making tourism accessible for all.
DXB customised its airport amenities to meet the distinctive requirements of POD, significantly enhancing their travel experience. To introduce these new services and familiarise guests and their families with the airport environment, the operator synchronised multiple 'Travel Safari' tours in collaboration with specialised centres. Offering a hands-on walkthrough, these tours guided participants through essential airport procedures, from check-in to boarding, enabling them to experience the airport environment before their travel date.
Savita, mother of Eshan Akash, a student at the Dubai Autism Center, commended the positive impact of DXB's amenities. She commented, “There are many things which POD experience when they are travelling. It's very difficult for them to express and that's why anxiety can bring out unpleasant behaviours. In that way, a quiet dedicated sensory area where they can regulate their sensory needs is very important. I'm amazed at DXB, their staff awareness, training and how dedicated they are in understanding our needs. This is the standard I think the world should follow and DXB is now going to be a benchmark for all POD. How we experienced the check-in, baggage claim and boarding gate, it was beyond my expectations.”
Recent partnerships with the Dubai Autism Center, receiving the Autism-Friendly Certificate, and the recognition of Accessibility Accreditation from the Airports Council International (ACI) have solidified Dubai Airports' commitment to creating a safe, accessible, and empowering airport experience for all.
The operator is working closely with partners and stakeholders on the second phase of the rollout for more innovative solutions, including connected airports, lounges, quiet rooms, and continued airport safari tours.