Disabled code for Dubai buildings on track

The new code and bylaws being introduced to ensure every building in Dubai is accessible to people with disabilities is likely to be introduced next month, according to a consultancy firm that has worked on it.

Alexander Castellanos, an associate director at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, said at a Tall Towers seminar held in Dubai on Thursday that making buildings accessible in Dubai has so far been a matter of best practice, but from February it will be a legal requirement.

He said that the code, which will cover both public and private sector buildings, was “long overdue”.

“But the great thing is it’s coming along. It’s very aligned with international standards,” he said.

Steve Carpenter, also an associate director at the firm, said that private sector firms were likely to be given a grace period of a few months to get to grips with the code, but “by the middle of this year it will be expected that anything constructed that is new and is completed will have to comply”.

However, it is understood that not all existing buildings will have to be retrofitted by 2020 – a move which could have cost an estimated US$5 billion. Instead, building owners will be given a three-year period in which they will need to produce an accessibility plan.

Robert Booth, the managing director of Dubai-based Ellington Properties, welcomed the move and said that his company already ensures buildings are accessible.

“It’s just good, sound principles for society,” he said

A spokeswoman for Nakheel said that it also includes facilities for disabled people in the design and build of all of its new projects.

Dubai Municipality was unavailable for comment.


Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter