By 2030, the number of individuals in Dubai aged sixty and above will surpass 22,000, the Community Development Authority (CDA) has said. This projection underscores the vital need to integrate this segment of society into sustainable economic frameworks, the authority announced at an event on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons.
The authority has unveiled transformative advancements in services offered to senior citizens in the emirate. These advancements correspond not only with the changing lifestyles, goals and aspirations of the elderly population in the country, but also aligns with the global movement to increase the involvement of older individuals in diverse social spheres.
The authority's revamped strategy rests on six pillars. It aims to nurture the mental well-being of senior citizens, enhance their social engagement, harness their vast experience, strengthen economic sustainability, maintain their dignity and respect, and promote social harmony.
Mental health is a fundamental focus for the CDA in designing its services for senior citizens. The authority recognises the impact of social isolation, loneliness and the loss of daily function, both personal and social, which can lead to serious psychological conditions that affect the wellbeing of the elderly. Conversely, active engagement in social and family events and enhanced social integration have been proven to substantially benefit their mental and physical health.
Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Director-General of the CDA in Dubai, underscored the need to adopt a multifaceted and integrated approach to ensuring the wellbeing of senior citizens and expanding services for the elderly beyond basic care to reflect the aspirations of the growing number of active and healthy seniors. “To create a unified society, in which every member experiences happiness and stability, we need to anticipate the diverse needs of various segments. We must view seniors as active contributors, not just recipients of care, and facilitate their engagement in daily and community activities, and harness their wisdom,” she stated.
She emphasised that CDA is adopting an integrated approach to addressing seniors' needs, including social care, empowerment opportunities, and participation, to allow them to lead dignified and purposeful lives, enriching society's diversity and prosperity. “Investing in the integration of senior citizens is as crucial as investing in the youth, and it’s fundamental for the future prosperity of our society,” she noted.
During the event at Thukher Social Club, CDA said that the club has delivered over 80,000 services to senior citizens since its inception. These services primarily focus on fostering the social integration of senior citizens and facilitating various activities, such as recreational trips and events. The authority also highlighted its generational communication initiative, which involves imparting the wisdom of senior citizens to children and youth through school lectures and community gatherings. This programme has already benefited over 11,000 young individuals.
Honouring distinguished senior citizens
The event honoured six distinguished senior citizens who have excelled in diverse cultural, sports, and social domains. Their remarkable contributions have left an indelible mark and their legacy has endured through generations. Among those honoured was Farid Abdul Rahman Zainal, the first Emirati referee to earn an international badge in the field of arbitration. His journey, which commenced in 1968, saw him achieve significant success and recognition, culminating in his international arbitration tenure until 1988.
The ceremony also paid tribute to Muhammad Abdullah Al Kous, a former player for Al Nasr Club. He is renowned as one of the youngest players to represent the UAE national football team. His footballing journey commenced at Al Faraj and later transitioned to Al Hilal Al Bahri. He ultimately joined Al Nasr after the merger in 1960. In 1986, he assumed the leadership of Al-Nasr and achieved a remarkable hat-trick under the guidance of Brazilian coach Lapolla.
The event also celebrated Dr Ali Abdullah bin Arab, a committed veterinarian who served in the Ministry of Agriculture till 2000. Dr Ali distinguished himself as a pioneering figure in veterinary medicine, being one of the few Emirati citizens who specialised and innovated in this field.
The distinguished Emirati artist, Moza Al Mazrouei, was also recognised for her trailblazing contributions. In 1973, she broke new ground as the first woman to grace the theatrical stage, breaking gender barriers that had previously limited participation to men only. Her extraordinary talent secured her the title of the ‘Mother of Emirati Playwrights’.
Another distinguished senior citizen honoured at the ceremony was Samira Al Khaja, a distinguished teacher renowned for her expertise in Arabic language and Islamic education at the Ministry of Education. She received a special distinction from the Minister of Education in recognition of her outstanding contributions to education.
Ahmed Mohammed Al Suwaidi, a dedicated civil servant with over 31 years of service in federal and local government, was also recognised at the ceremony. In addition to serving in the government, he established a private museum showcasing a remarkable collection of heritage artifacts and antiques.
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