There is an estimated 800-1000 people with irreversible blindness, and another 1500-2000 with functional low vision in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, eye care services in the UAE seemed to be lacking a space to accommodate to these irreversibly visually impaired and blind. The multi-disciplinary care needed by this category of people is scattered across different locations and providers in the UAE, making access to the full range of services very difficult people with disabilities.
Our nominee Miss Mira Alhabtoor identified this fragmented difficulty to reach services for this group and suggested to Noor Dubai Foundation set up a one-stop Visual Rehabilitation Centre in Dubai, that can provide the whole range of services required by persons with irreversible vision loss under one roof.
To push for the actualization of this idea, Miss Alhabtoor studied the different models of visual rehabilitation centers in the Middle East and Asia and developed a comprehensive strategic project plan for the center to align with the UAE disability strategy. The center is to provide comprehensive low vision and rehabilitation services ranging from low vision assessment, training and visual aids, to training in mobility and orientation and activities of daily living, and occupational counselling. The plan is set to improve education, employment and independent living for people with irreversible visual loss.
Miss AlHabtoor had also worked with Health economics team to develop a financial feasibility for the center. She is further leading the fund raising efforts for the center. It is our hope that the center could be established by mid next year.
Another innovative creation of Miss AlHabtoor to Noor Dubai and eye health in UAE is the introduction of newer fund raising and eye-health awareness models, which entails linking with UAE entrepreneurs to have partnerships for marketing and branding of their products and services with profits donated for eye care services. These collaborations and partnerships works for both parties as they improve their creativity and patronage as well as provide corporate social responsibility. One project included teaming up with Emirati perfume brand that had created a limited edition scent exclusively for the foundation. As a result, with every purchase of the perfume 20% of proceeds were donated to the foundation. Another project includes an art auction is an example that will focus on collecting donations, mainly from those who are interested in the art scene.
“Working in the humanitarian field has always been the path I wanted to take. I believe that helping those in need will shape future generations to make the world a better place. Humanitarian work in combination with healthcare, specifically focused on the eye health creates a positive outlook on the future. The idea of being able to help someone gain back their vision is a gift that not many people would be able to provide. I consider myself extremely lucky to be in this position, and therefore I push myself to do more for others.”
– Mira sultan al habtoor