Innovative Policy 2018 on Accessibility

Universal Accessibility Strategy for the whole of Dubai

In 2017 the Government of the Emirate of Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has begun to implement the Dubai Universal Accessibility Strategy and Action Plan (DUASAP). Fifteen relevant governmental and semi-governmental local entities in Dubai have been mandated to prepare a three year (2018-2020) sectoral implementation plan to retrofit existing buildings, infrastructure and facilities to ensure a barrier-free and fully inclusive physical environment. The ten priority sectors include, Education, Health Care, Recreation, Culture and Arts, Sports, Religious Services, Transportation, Retail and Commercial services, Justice and Judicial Services, and Tourism. The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), an international non-profit organization that promotes the accessibility of technologies and the built environment, was directly involved in the development of the policy. Using five strategic elements, Dubai is on track to create full accessibility to the built environment and public transportation by 2020, based on Universal Design principles.

About the policy at a glance
Laws and regulations involved:
  • UAE Federal Law 29 (2006)
  • Local Law 2 (2014)
  • Local Bylaws for Law 2 (2014)
  • Dubai Universal Design Code (2017)
  • Responsible Body:Government of the Emirate of Dubai
    of Implementation
    United Arab Emirates


    • As of 2017, the Dubai metro system (2 lines with a total of 74 kilometres and 45 stations) is fully accessible, as is half of its bus system and approximately 40 per cent of all taxis.
    • The Government of Dubai has expressed its intention to make the city fully accessible by 2020.


    According to local estimates there are up to 136,600 people with disabilities living in Dubai, approximately 5 per cent of the total population. The Government of Dubai is aware of its obligation to accommodate the diverse needs of all its citizens, and has expressed its intention to make the city fully accessible by 2020 (when it will also host EXPO, a worldwide conference and exhibition).


    The Government of Dubai decided to cooperate with GAATES to develop and implement the DUASAP. GAATES first focused on identification of the current gaps in terms of accessibility, as well as on managerial and implementation challenges and the technical capacity to ensure compliance with existing and new accessibility regulations. The Dubai Universal Accessibility strategy is based on five strategic focus areas:

    • Development of a comprehensive legal Framework
    • Governance and enforcement
    • Retrofitting
    • Capacity-building
    • Awareness-raising

    Each of the five strategic objectives have specified and detailed targets, defined responsibilities, and a designated timeline. All processes are broken down into clusters, and each cluster has a designated accessibility focal point, consisting of an existing department or position.


    In May 2017, The Higher Committee for the Protection of Rights of Persons with Disability officially enacted the Dubai Universal Design Code (DUDC) as the mandatory standards for universal accessibility requirements across all jurisdictions in Dubai Emirate. The Dubai Municipality’s Buildings Department and the Roads and Transport Authority have been mandated to oversee the full enforcement of the DUDC in all newly authorized projects and procurements in both public and private sectors. Based on new accessibility bylaws, the two authorities are now eligible to sanction penalties and revoke permits in case on non-compliance with the new code.
    A bi-annual report will be raised to the Higher Committee indicating compliance performance and achieved levels of accessibility in various sectors. Specific key performance indicators (KPIs) are developed, based on the five specific DUASAP objectives.


    Salem AlShafiei
    The Executive Council of Dubai


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