Muscat: A group of Omanis is working hard to make every beach accessible to the Sultanate’s 60,000 disabled citizens.
The group has lobbied with ministries to help with access issues. At the moment, Oman’s coastline is far from disabled friendly, according to the campaigners.
“Disabled people deserve the same rights and respect as non-disabled ones. We need ramps on the beaches for our disabled in Oman, so that they can get to the beach without their wheelchair getting stuck,” Dr Kawthar Hameed Abdullah, chief executive officer at the Creative Centre for Rehabilitation and a member of the Oman Disabled Association, said.
Latest government data reveals that the number of disabled Omanis currently stands at 62,506, or 3 per cent of the total population.
Of these, people with walking difficulties constitute 26.8 per cent. According to Abdullah, his group wants to install ramps that can go down to the shoreline as they have in Long Island, New York and some other beaches around the United States and the world.
“We plan to install these ramps, starting hopefully with the Qurum beach. We are in the process of meeting with authorities on how we can accomplish our goals,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Mohammed Al Badi, a board member of the Oman Disabled Association, said all public places in Oman should be made disabled friendly.
“Why should disabled people be denied their right to enjoy the beauty of the country? It should not happen. We will try our best to make this plan happen,” Al Badi, who himself is a quadriplegic, told the Times of Oman.
A quadriplegic is affected with paralysis in both arms and legs. Abdullah said they are planning to approach some government organisations to seek help in setting up ramps.
“Our plan is to firstly approach the government authorities to see how they can start the project as they will need to give permission for it. Afterwards, we will seek funding for the project. We want to start with the Qurum beach as it is one of the most popular and biggest beaches (in Oman). We would like to put a minimum of three to five ramps in this area, and later add more at other beaches in Muscat,” Abdullah explained.
There are many accessible beaches for disabled people in the world. All of them have ramps leading up to the water, and have a provision for wheelchairs, railings, and so on.
The Santa Monica and Malibu beaches in California, Virginia beach in the United States, the Pattaya beach in Thailand, the Sirens beach in Greece, Freedom Shores in Mexico, the Hanauma Bay beach in Honolulu, Cancun beach in Mexico, Key Largo beach in Florida, Manly Beach in Australia and Tuscany beach in Italy are rated as the top 10 disabled-friendly beaches in the world.