To mark World Autism Awareness Day, on April 2 of each year, and with the aim of raising autism awareness, Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, in cooperation with the management of Yas Mall Abu Dhabi, launched the "Quiet Hour" initiative, to provide sensory-controlled shopping experiences, including "quiet room" that provides a safe haven inside the mall for those in need, aiming to help people with autism and other sensory disorders and their parents, allowing them to spend some time and relax in sensory-controlled environment, creating a safe and quiet place, where families can enjoy a customized shopping experience.
Yas Mall management will implement this initiative on the first Monday of every month, starting from April 5, 2021. The quiet hour will be from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., creating a calm shopping experience in contrast to the usual bustling shopping environment.
Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination has made an agreement with key commercial centers in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to cooperate to implement the "Quiet Hour" initiative, which requires the implementation of sensory control measures, including reducing lighting brightness, cancellation of background music in stores, limiting odors from perfume and incense stores, in addition to cessation of all advertisements, except for emergency information. The initiative also requires that store activities such as restocking shelves, arranging stock and other similar activities be restricted during the “Quiet Hour”, with the aim of creating a calm atmosphere suitable for individuals with autism and other sensory disorders.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is keen to provide a decent life for all segments of society, especially people of determination, including those on the Autism Spectrum, as it has established specialized centers to provide them with support and rehabilitative services, working toward their empowerment and social inclusion, while recognizing the immeasurable value of family support for such initiativesAbdullah Abdulalee Al Humaidan, Secretary General of Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination
His Excellency Abdullah Abdulalee Al Humaidan, Secretary General of Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, said: “The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is keen to provide a decent life for all segments of society, especially people of determination, including those on the Autism Spectrum, as it has established specialized centers to provide them with support and rehabilitative services, working toward their empowerment and social inclusion, while recognizing the immeasurable value of family support for such initiatives.
He added: “We, as institutions, universities, destinations and families, must evoke our responsibilities in serving and caring for people of determination, including individuals with autism, and coordinate our efforts, join hands and cooperate to increase awareness among individuals, regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder and its symptoms, toward enhancing the role of autistic people and securing their empowerment and social inclusion, while providing continued support to their families”.
His Excellency Abdullah Al Humaidan explained that Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination is keen to launch initiatives that will ensure the availability of accessible environments for people of determination, whether within the organization’s rehabilitation care centers or in the external community. Therefore, the organization launched the "Quiet Hour" initiative in cooperation with management of Yas Mall, provided that this experiment will be implemented in a number of major commercial centers during the next phase of the initiative, including the World Trade Center in Abu Dhabi and the Al Jimi Mall in Al Ain.
The “Quiet Hour” initiative and the provision of a “quiet room” is being announced on the occasion of World Autism Day - targeting individuals on the Autism Spectrum and their families, people diagnosed with Dementia and others with excessive sensory vulnerability, allowing them to enjoy a shopping experience with reduced sensory stimuli, in terms of lighting, smells, loud sounds and music in malls.
Saud Khoury, CEO of Retail at Aldar Investments, said: “As part of our continuous efforts to support people of determination, their families, and caregivers, we are pleased to open the region's first quiet room at Yas Mall and provide a monthly quiet hour service. We understand that spending time in the mall can be an anxious and stressful experience for some individuals, and through this launch we aim to help alleviate such anxiety by providing a therapeutic environment customized to their needs and preferences. This pioneering step highlights how small changes can create a more inclusive environment and have a significant positive impact on the lives of not only those who face sensory challenges, but also to the general population, thus enhancing awareness”.
He stressed that the cooperation with Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination to implement this innovative initiative is part of the commitment of Yas Mall to provide an enjoyable shopping experience for all by creating a sense of calm and comfort. This initiative will help individuals and their caregivers to feel comfortable while shopping and further help to promote social awareness. He also highlighted that Yas Mall has obtained a gold certificate by the World Federation of Disabilities; a distinction awarded to organizations that are accessible and inclusive for people of determination.