Reem Bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy speaks during an event in Dubai. File
Staff Reporter, Gulf Today
Reem Bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, on Monday received a Sunflower Lanyard for the significant role she has played in promoting accessibility at Expo 2020 and in the region.
Al Hashemy was presented with a Sunflower Lanyard by Steven Mifsud, Expo 2020’s Director of Accessibility (for Direct Access), who has been the driving force behind the programming, curation and training operations that ensure the site is inclusive and accessible to all visitors.
Mifsud explained that the Sunflower Lanyards, also known as "Hidden Impairment Lanyards," are a globally recognised symbol of a hidden impairment, which can be worn by anyone who might require extra help.
Steven Mifsud said: “In my role as Director of Accessibility, one of my first immediate tasks was to try and ensure that people of determination feel welcome to come here to Expo. And one of the most powerful ways to do that is by showing the region and the world that we promote and endorse the Sunflower Lanyards. Social media, the media, only goes so far, but when you have a personality, such as Al Hashemy, it speaks volumes.”
Mifsud said that not only has Expo 2020 ensured its site has sufficient ramps and elevators to accommodate those that require them, it is also making those with hidden impairments feel welcome through the use of the Sunflower Lanyards.
The success of the lanyards at Expo, he hoped, will promote their use elsewhere in Dubai and around the world.
Visitors take a break at the Expo 2020 Dubai. Kamal Kassim, Gulf Today.
Mifsud added: “We are hoping from this, and by having Reem Al Hashemy wear a Sunflower Lanyard, other areas in the region - such as Dubai Mall, Dubai airport, Ferrari World - all these places that tourists go to will recognise the Sunflower Lanyard. By having Dubai recognise the Sunflower Lanyard, we are promoting tourism. The growth plan for Dubai is to focus on tourism, and many people of determination are off-peak travellers, which is why it is exactly the right thing to do.”
Sunflower Lanyards, known as hidden impairment lanyards, are available at any of the Information Centres and kiosks. Sunflower Lanyards serve to communicate with staff that you may need assistance at times, may need to access the person of determination entrance at a pavilion, etc. These are distributed free of charge.
Expo 2020 has four dedicated Quiet Rooms, located within the Information Centres at Visitor Centres 1, 3, 4 and 6. The Quiet Rooms provide spaces for visitors who feel overstimulated, overwhelmed or anxious. They contain a sofa, an innovative sensory pod and a sensory corner.
The Ghaf is a drought-tolerant tree, which can remain green even in harsh desert environments. It is essential for the survival of animal and plant species alike.
The Ghaf is the national tree of the UAE as it is a historic and cultural symbol of stability and peace in the UAE’s desert environment.
The tree was declared the national tree of the UAE in 2008 thanks to its cultural and traditional significance. Ghaf trees can live for up to 120 years on average, traditionally Ghaf leaves and pods provided food and its nutritious branches were used for livestock. The tree was also traditionally used for its medicinal properties.
According to UAE Federal Law No.24 of 1999, it is prohibited to cut wild plants, uproot them or collect them illegally. The country takes strict measures on any felling of local trees with special regard for the Ghaf trees, which has massive adverse effects on the native biodiversity
In 2019, the Ghaf Tree was chosen as a symbol for the Year of Tolerance exemplifying its role as a historic and cultural symbol of stability and peace in the UAE’s desert environment. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan paid great attention to the Ghaf and issued laws and regulations prohibiting the cutting of the tree throughout the country.
For the Expo 2020 Dubai opening ceremony’s final act, Al Wasl Plaza was transformed into a magical garden with dancers in fantastical costumes representing blossoming flowers. At the centre of the stage rose a huge silver and white Ghaf tree. The tree range from three to five metres, and its roots can go as deep as 30 metres, which is one of the reasons they can survive the harsh summer.
A lone Ghaf tree at the Expo 2020 Dubai site, estimated to be more than 70 year old, was preserved when construction first began. In 2019, organisers released an animated film in its honour, detailing how it has endured the harsh desert conditions through changing times.
Expo 2020 Dubai has established a number of main focus areas and a set of key performance indicators that revolve around achieving sustainability, including enhancing the environmental value of the site and promoting local plant species, where millions of plants have been produced in agricultural nurseries, more than 14,000 trees, 2,500 palm trees and 35 million shrubs and more than 460 Ghaf trees.
As for the sustainability pavilion, Ghaf had another presence, Mona Al Ali, Senior Manager, Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai, in a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM), said that the Ghaf tree is well known and was chosen in the pavilion to allow visitors to view its roots through a periscope, which reveals its roots that go deep into the soil in search of water and nutrients, showing how these plants live in this region and can withstand the desert environment.
“To adapt to the scarcity of water in the desert, each species of plants has developed its method to deal with water scarcity,” she pointed out.
“Let’s take Ghaf trees as an example. They derive their need from freshwater by extending their roots and pushing them into the ground to depths of tens of meters.”
As the Premier Partner and Official Airline of Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates is enhancing the benefits that SMEs stand to gain from visiting the largest themed event taking place in Dubai.
Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) planning a visit to Dubai during Expo 2020 Dubai will be reaping even more rewards during the six-month mega event with the launch of the latest Emirates Business Rewards incentive.
As part of the offer, designed especially for SMEs, the airline is providing bonus Emirates Business Rewards Points to members of its corporate loyalty programme, applicable on flights to Dubai for the duration of the event. For flights booked to Dubai by 15th November 2021, for travel until 31st March 2022, Emirates Business Rewards members will see their rewards balance grow faster by earning 25 percent additional Business Rewards Points on their trip. The offer will enable businesses to earn 1.25 Points for every US Dollar spent on inbound flights to Expo 2020 Dubai’s host city.
Business Rewards Points can be redeemed to book flights and upgrades for eligible individuals from the registered organisation, including business owners, their employees, in addition to guests. T&C’s apply.
Over 20,000 SMEs are currently enrolled in the Emirates Business Rewards programme and potentially lucrative opportunities lie ahead for its member base, consisting of professional services and consulting firms, technology providers, traders as well as businesses across various sectors including real estate, construction, IT and healthcare, among others.
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