On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS) opened (Accessibility – beyond physical environments) photo exhibition, held at Zero 6 Mall in Sharjah until the 16th of this month. Her Highness Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Director General of SCHS, who is the patron, and His Excellency Henryk Landholm, Swedish Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates were present in the commencement ceremony.
The exhibition, which was attended by a number of SCHS officials and ambassador's wife, and organized by SCHS in cooperation with the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish Academy, aims to reflect the lives of persons with disabilities in Sweden and the United Arab Emirates through pictures. The focus would be on providing persons with disabilities an access to the things they want and overcoming environmental obstacles.
The Swedish ambassador praised the services and support, which United Arab Emirates offers to persons with disabilities. He confirmed that it is important to stop looking at persons with disabilities or people of determination as an isolated group and begin to view them as individuals with only different needs. He called upon individuals and institutions to contribute to their integration and empowerment.
He was very happy to cooperate with SCHS in organizing the exhibition. The first 14 pictures tell personal stories of Swedish people with disabilities, taken by Swedish photographer Marcus Marsitik. As for the other 14 pictures photographed by Victor Pisa of The National newspaper, they talk about the stories of persons with disabilities from the United Arab Emirates.
Her Highness Sheikha Jameela Qasimi talked about the importance of the exhibition in reflecting a different image of persons with disabilities and their ability to face challenges with courage, in addition to raising awareness of their rights such as their right to life, education, work and inclusion. She pointed out the importance of the exhibition in raising community awareness to accept social differences. The pictures shown in the gallery for people with disabilities from the UAE or Sweden include different age groups.
SCHS strives to consolidate the relationships of cooperation with local, regional, and international bodies and organizations to offer the best services to persons with disabilities according to the best international practices.
(Accessibility – beyond physical environments) photo exhibition reflects person with disabilities dreams, feelings, their everyday family relationships, as well as their work and how they spend their spare time. The two photographer took the 28 photos at various times in Sweden and the United Arab Emirates.
All these pictures have strong message summarized in one word “Dignity”. Living with dignity despite disability is a human right according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The United Arab Emirates is a good place for people with disabilities. In less than 50 years, the country has become a world leader in the humanitarian field. This exhibition is a good example for UAE openness and advancement of the its community, which appreciates the efforts of all its members and their accomplishments as the persons in the photos share their stories and consider it an opportunity to preserve beautiful moments of their lives.
The graduate of Al Amal School for the Deaf and Business Administration Faculty in the University of Sharjah Abdel Salam Zourob, who is participating with pictures in the exhibition, talked about SCHS role in educating, empowering, and integrating him until he became an active member in the society. He participates with his friends who are deaf in several plays performed both on and outside the country's theaters as active members of the Sharjah Mime Band, which is an affiliate of the Art for All Center (Falaj).
Zourob participates with his friends with hearing impairment within the activities and events organized by SCHS. He also volunteers in Al Amal Camp, which SCHS organizes every year to amuse people with disabilities coming from the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and two guest delegations from the countries of the world and introduce them to the most important attractions of the United Arab Emirates.
To conclude, Abdel Salam said, “As persons with hearing impairment, we were able to mingle, continue our education, and graduate with God’s help and the assistant of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services. SCHS was keen to follow up all students after school and provide sign language interpreters on campus so students with hearing impairment could have a decent education and receive accurate information. SCHS has been always keen to grant accessibility to various physical and virtual environments”.