UAE Requirements

“The requirements of The UAE's Federal Government Disability Act (Federal Law No. 29/2006) in 2006. His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Mak-toum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai issued Law No. (2) 'To Protect the Rights of People with Disabilities (also refered to here as people of determination POD) in Dubai.

The law aims to provide high-quality medical care and social services to all people with disabilities; boost public awareness; and contribute to integrating people with disabilities into society.

The key requirements of The UAE's Federal Government Disability Act (Federal Law No. 29/2006)

 The law guarantees an unspecified job quota for people with special needs (people of determination) in the public and private sectors and focuses on increasing accessibility to public buildings and residences. 

Legal Definitions:

The UAE law defines a person with special needs as;

“Every person suffering from a temporary or permanent, full or partial deficiency or infirmity in his physical, sensory, mental, communicational, educational or psychological abilities to an extent that limits his possibility of performing the ordinary requirements as people without special needs”.

 Discrimination is defined as;

“any segregation, exclusion or restriction due to special needs leading to the damage or denial of recognition of any rights granted by the prevailing legislation in the country or its practice or enjoyment on an equal footing”.

 Article (23)

The concerned authorities shall coordinate with each other to specify the engineering standards and specifications for facilities and public utilities in order to ensure their appropriateness for the use, requirements and safety of people with special needs. This has been completed and is designated as The Universal Design Code and to which this audit and assessment is measured against”.

Analysis is described as:

The building is used in the provision of goods, facilities or services, either paid for or free, and therefore the following requirements apply:

It is unlawful to discriminate against disabled people by:

  • Refusing to provide, or deliberately not providing a service, which is normally offered to other people?
  • Offering a lower standard of service
  • Offering less favourable terms


  • Change practices, policies or procedures which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service
  • Provide auxiliary aids or services to enable people of determination to use a service
  • Overcome physical barriers by providing a service by a reasonable alternative method
  • The providers of goods, facilities and services will have to take reasonable steps to:
  • Remove, alter or provide reasonable means of avoiding physical features that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for people of determination to use a service

 Introduction to the Universal Design Code;

The purpose of the Universal Design Code is to define how the built environment and transportation systems in the Emirate shall be designed, constructed and managed to enable one to approach, enter, use, egress from and evacuate independently, in an equitable and dignified manner, to the greatest extent possible, in line with the Universal Design concept.

 The requirements in the Code cover a wide range of human abilities, embracing all aspect of life.

 The requirements of the Code shall be applied at the earliest possible stage in the design process.

In some instances, parameters in the Code are quite specific; in others, they include dimensional ranges. Where dimensions and/or measurements are stated, they are subject to tolerances. Dimensional ranges are intended to provide some flexibility of design solutions.


The Universal design Code specifies a range of requirements for many of the elements of construction, assemblies, components, vehicles and fittings that comprise the built environment and transport services.

 These requirements relate to the external environment, such as public open spaces, as well as access to buildings, to circulation within buildings, to egress from buildings, as well as public transport system’s vehicles, elements, stations and equipment.

The requirements are to be applied during the design, construction, renovations, and alteration of sites, facilities, buildings, and elements of the built environment and transportation systems, to the extent required by regulations issued by the Emirate of Dubai under Law No. 2.

 The Code does not apply to individual dwellings, only to common parts of multi- occupancy residential buildings. However, it includes a section addressing requirements for new convertible housing.

 Nothing in the requirements prevents the use of designs, products, or technologies as alternatives to those prescribed, provided they result in substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability.

 The dimensions stated in the Code are primarily based on adults, but it includes specifications that address the requirements that should suit children and people with different heights. If a facility is primarily to serve children, dimensions and other provisions should be adjusted to make them suitable for children. (additional codes and standards for school children are included in the digital version and may include international standards)

Dimensions are given in metric units. All dimensions in figures are given in meters or millimetres and are measured to the centre-line, unless otherwise specified.

The Universal design code also covers Accessible Transport that support equitable access and ease of travelling for all persons regardless of their social, economic, physical, sensory or cognitive capacity and will only be referred to in this report if it is applicable and appropriate.

Wayfinding establishes the minimum requirements for providing information for orientation and navigating the public realm and buildings.

Scoping requirements


All areas of newly designed and newly constructed buildings and facilities and altered portions of existing buildings and facilities shall comply with the requirements.

Where a site, building, facility, room, or space contains more than one use, each portion shall comply with the applicable requirements for that use.

Temporary buildings and facilities provided for public use should also comply with the Code.

Where public access is permitted during construction or maintenance of a facility, the requirements of the Code shall be respected to provide safe and equitable use for everyone.

Existing buildings and facilities;

The accessibility conditions of the buildings shall be assessed, and the owner shall present to the authorities a proposal (report or audit) for adapting the building to the requirements for existing buildings contained in the Universal Design Code within three years after its publication. (Feb 2017) . This means reports should be submitted by Feb 2020

Additions and alterations to existing buildings or facilities shall comply with the Code. Each addition to an existing building or facility shall comply with the requirements for new construction.

Where existing elements or spaces are altered, each altered element or space shall comply with the applicable requirements of the Code.

 An alteration that decreases or has the effect of decreasing the accessibility of a building or facility below the requirements for new construction at the time of the alteration is prohibited.

Maintenance of all facilities, including public and private buildings, as well as transportation facilities, shall guarantee accessibility continuity.

Buildings listed for their cultural interest or catalogued for their particular historical and artistic value remain exempt from applying the accessibility requirements when they contradict the preservation regulations of The UAE. However, they still need to incorporate as many elements as possible to maximize accessibility conditions.

When a building is built in a flood zone the entrances of the building can have a change in level from the exterior ground level.

Sports facilities shall follow the Paralympics Committee’s requirements, as long as these requirements are greater than the Universal Design Code requirements.

Urban general planning and urban project developments shall ensure the accessibility continuum with surrounding elements and areas, according to the criteria set in the Code.

Transport (where applicable)

New vehicle procurement, retrofitting of existing vehicles, stations and stops including rail, bus, marine vessel, school bus and accessible taxis shall have accessible features meeting the technical and design requirements in the Code.

 The scope of the Code does not cover air, intercity bus or intercity rail travel.

 Structure of the Universal Design Code is organised in 4 Sections and 3 Annexes:

 Section A - General Provisions

General provisions contain scope, definitions and general provision for both accessibility domains: built environment and mobility.

 Section B - Accessible Built Environment

 Accessible built environment contains requirements for common accessibility elements, specific requirements in public spaces and buildings and provision for specific building types.

 Section C - Accessible Transportation

 Accessible transportation contains accessibility provisions for all Dubai’s transport modes.

 Section D - Wayfinding

 Wayfinding requirements for exterior and indoor environments.

 Annex 1 contains the required accessibility in each building type.

 Annex 2 contains the licensing procedures and checklist.

 Annex 3 contains anthropometrics measurement

 In conclusion, The UAE has plans to develop the current rules and regulation (this is where universal design codes are reviewed and updated) for the need of people of determination and will keep modifying legal perspectives and directions to integrate people of determination in the daily life and local environment.

 NOTE; It is paramount that this report be reviewed on a regular basis and if the digital report is viewed on-line then all new updates and requirements will be included, making this report a live and dynamic document that is the foundation for reference to businesses and organisation is meeting the legal and technical standards here in the UAE

The latest initiative of the government is an overall goal to become the world’s most disabled-friendly cities, preparing new standards for buildings, parks, hospitals, infrastructure and transport by 2020.