(MENAFN - Arab News) The Ministry of Social Affairs has stepped up the implementation of a project to distribute specially equipped cars to persons with mobility disabilities on the occasion of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah's recovery from illness, Al-Madinah daily reported yesterday, quoting an official of the ministry.
The SR 1.5 billion worth King Abdullah Gift Project aims to distribute 12,000 cars covering people with mobility disabilities in the Kingdom.
In the project's initial phase, the ministry will distribute 4,000 cars, each at the cost of SR 150,000. The remaining cars will be distributed next year under a time scheme for each region, the official said.
The ministry has invited bids from companies to supply cars suitable for people with disabilities. The cars should have a mechanized boarding device and special seats suitable for people with disabilities and with sufficient room inside.
Minister of Social Affairs Yousuf Al-Othaimin launched the project here yesterday.
A day earlier, the executive directors of medical services and of operations at the National Guard's Health Affairs in the western sector, Mansour Al-Jundi and Khaled Bakalka, respectively, inaugurated an awareness campaign of the World Day of the Disabled.
The campaign is organized by King Abdul Aziz Medical City in Jeddah and carries the motto "Disability is an idea and not the body".
Al-Jundi said in his speech that in view of the needs of disabled patients and workers, a disability friendly environment had been created in the hospital besides setting up a special committee.
The committee's tasks include identifying the available services for this special section of people and the areas that need improvement to suit their needs.
The committee should also ensure that buildings, including the ones under construction, are suited for disabled employees and patients, and that the designs of buildings to be constructed in the future are disability friendly.
"People with disability are dear to us. The National Guard's Health Affairs is celebrating the World Day of the Disabled as part of its efforts to achieve welfare of all sections of the Saudi society," Bakalka said.
He added that a committee for the employment of the disabled took steps to train disabled people to make them suited for the present needs of the job market.
Speaking on the occasion, Islamic preacher Sheikh Abdullah Baniama said people with special needs provide better service than able-bodied people. He cited the example of Abdullah bin Umm Maktoum (may Allah be pleased with him) from the early history of Islam.
"Abdullah bin Umm Maktoum's visual impairment did not prevent him from traveling to Madinah and becoming the first ambassador in the history of Islam," Baniama said.
The Health Affairs' committee to recruit people with special needs was set up on Jan. 12, 2011, in line with an order of the higher authorities to enable people with disabilities to participate in the national development and benefit from the nationalization of jobs.