The Family Development Foundation (FDF) organised the 6th Forum for Senior Citizens and Residents 2023, under the slogan ‘Towards Sustainable Social Welfare for Senior Citizens and Residents,’ at the FDF’s Jebel Hafeet Community Center in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, to commemorate the International Day for Older Persons. The Forum was held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and the ‘Mother of the Nation’.
Organising this Forum demonstrates the FDF’s commitment to ensuring the safety and welfare of senior citizens by strengthening cooperation with its partners. This is in line with its ambitious strategy that aims to offer every form of assistance and services to this important segment of society in order to improve their quality of life.
The Forum witnessed the participation of Her Excellency Mariam Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Director General of the Family Development Foundation; Her Excellency Salama Ajlan Al Ameemi, Director General of the Authority of Social Contributions – Ma’an, as well as employees of FDF, its numerous strategic partners, and senior citizens and residents.
Unlimited support of the ‘Mother of the Nation’
His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development (DCD) – Abu Dhabi commended the efforts of FDF in organising the Forum for senior citizens and residents, through a video speech. This is in line with the vision of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak to provide care and support for the elderly, which stems from her strong conviction of their essential role in strengthening family and community cohesion.
His Excellency Al Khaili said: “In collaboration with other organisations in the societal sector, we are constantly on pursuit to improve the quality of life of senior citizens and residents in Abu Dhabi. We recognise senior citizens as cornerstones of the society, who plays a pivotal role in shaping communities and advancing its development.” He added that the unwavering support and commitment of the wise leadership has enabled senior citizens in the country to lead a healthier and improved living.
His Excellency Al Khaili indicated that the Department of Community Development – Abu Dhabi firmly believes in the role of individuals in advancing the process of comprehensive and sustainable development. With this strong conviction, HE stated that DCD places a significant emphasis on improving their role in promoting the growth of the prosperous society of Abu Dhabi that is based on the values of cohesion and interconnectedness. He continued to say that in line with this, the social sector plays role in establishing a comprehensive social system distinguished by utmost flexibility and efficacy, as well as raising a generation that is well-educated and aware of their rights and responsibilities towards their people and country.
His Excellency Ali Salem Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Family Development Foundation, conveyed the greetings of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, ‘Mother of the Nation’. The speech was delivered on his behalf by Her Excellency Mariam Mohammed Al Rumaithi.
His Excellency Al Kaabi said: “On this occasion, we would like to underline and honour the relentless efforts of the UAE in improving the quality of life of senior citizens. The country attributes higher importance to its senior citizens and residents as they consider them as essential engines for sustainable growth. It further strives to serve them and improve their happiness in the society, which serves as an inspiration for us to further put in the effort and make the most of our resources in order to fulfil their needs. This comes in line with the directives of the wise leadership, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, as well as the goals of the government, which places the needs and priorities of its citizens first.”
He added: “At FDF, we constantly strive to enhance the integration and empowerment of senior citizens in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Through this Forum, we reiterate our commitment to offering services that enhance the quality of life of senior citizens and residents, in accordance with the directives of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. We seek to effectively satisfy their needs and requirements and improve their access to numerous digital services. Furthermore, we also aim to embark on various initiatives and programs as well as design several innovative services for this important segment of the society.”
His Excellency continued: “The UAE is a country that places high value on enhancing family cohesion, preserving social heritage, promoting respect for senior citizens, and supporting their social participation.
In light of this, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi currently witnesses significant increase in the number of senior citizens and residents owing to the impressive development in the health care sector. The UAE has witnessed significant changes that have had a major impact on people’s way of life, as well as their patterns of employment and lifestyle. As a result, organisations must start making wise strategic plans for the future, taking into consideration these major changes and responsibilities they have towards elderly residents in order to improve their quality of life.”
Honouring Senior Citizens:
H.E Mariam Mohammed Al Rumaithi, Director-General of the Family Development Foundation, recognised the group that attended the Foundation’s programs and services the most. This comes as part of her efforts to further encourage their participation and inspire them to be part of various services that immensely benefit them. Her Excellency aims to communicate with them in order to understand their requirements and forge solutions to address these needs and offer a decent life. The innovative services of FDF are made available across all centres in Abu Dhabi, including Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions.
Signing a Cooperation Agreement:
The Family Development Foundation signed a cooperation agreement with the Authority of Social Contributions – Ma’an and MAKE Management Services to enhance the standard of living of senior citizens and residents in Abu Dhabi. Under this agreement, both the parties will strive to enhance the integration of this segment of the society by advancing their skills and encouraging their participation in social activities, such as handicrafts, designed for them. Such activities offer an opportunity for senior citizens to explore and acquire new skills and areas of interests.
The Agreement was signed by H.E. Mariam Mohamed Al Rumaithi, General Manager of Family Development Foundation, HE Salama Ajlan Al Amimi, Director General of Community Contributions Authority (Ma’an), and Talal Al Ansari, General Manager of Make Management Services Company .
Enhancing the quality of life of senior citizens:
Her Excellency Mariam Mohamed Al Rumaithi said: “Based on the Family Development Foundation’s vision, mission, and areas of interest represented in supporting this significant group in society to ensure the provision of a decent, safe, and stable life for them, this agreement fits within the framework of the Foundation’s efforts to improve the quality of life for senior citizens.”
She highlighted that the agreement seeks to provide training to senior citizens as per their needs, develop their craft skills, further empowering them and fostering their talents until the evaluation stage.
Al Rumaithi emphasised that the agreement embodies the visions and directives of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, “Mother of the Nation”, which aim to provide all facets of social, health, psychological and recreational care in a way that ensures this significant segment’s integration into society and gives them a safe and stable life. She further highlighted the Foundation’s constant commitment to easing senior citizens’ burdens by facilitating access to services and providing all aspects of integrated social care for this significant group in society, with the goal of enhancing their quality of life and enabling them to participate and engage in society, as they are the blessing of the home “Barakat Al Dar” and a crucial component of Emirati society.
She further stated that in order to achieve social development that ensures a decent life for senior citizens and residents, the Foundation seeks to form alliances that will ensure stability in Abu Dhabi, which will require integrating roles and meeting Abu Dhabi government’s requirements. She emphasised that the Foundation had taken a proactive approach and made significant efforts to put services into place. It embraces projects and programmes that improve the lives of senior citizens and others, and it aims to offer all societal segments integrated care in order to enhance their quality of life and assure their active and ongoing involvement in Abu Dhabi society.
Establishing a vibrant society:
Talal Al Ansari said: “We are honoured to work in partnership with the Family Development Foundation and the Community Contributions Authority ‘Ma’an’ to improve the standard of living for Abu Dhabi’s senior citizens and residents. The ‘Make’ Centre is dedicated to building a thriving community that welcomes innovative makers.”
He added: “By providing senior citizens and residents a space to learn and take part in social and development activities, we can increase the reach of our impact and help them integrate into the “Make” community. We offer them the tools, resources, and support they need to unleash their creativity and advance their abilities because we think it’s important to capitalise on their experiences and creativity. By giving them the information and resources they need to put their ideas into practise in carpentry, weaving, digital technology, or any other activity, we aim to empower them through a variety of programmes and workshops, not just by teaching them new skills.”
Addressing social priorities:
H.E. Salama Ajlan Al Amimi stated that the authority is eager to form alliances that have a tangible, positive impact on addressing social priorities in Abu Dhabi. According to her, the authority’s decision to sign the cooperation agreement with Make Management Services Company demonstrates the commitment towards working with our partners at the Family Development Foundation to assist those in community who are in need of a decent standard of living.
She added: “We are committed to assisting elderly persons and residents, boosting their quality of life, and attaining social integration, and we look forward to launching this partnership and achieving positive outcomes.”
Sustainable access for senior citizens to their rights:
Two sessions were also organised by the Family Development Foundation as part of the Sixth Forum for Senior Citizens and Residents 2023 activities. The first session covered the axis of national global policies and trends that ensure the sustainability of senior citizens’ access to their rights and improve their quality of life, which was moderated by Dr. Fatima Abdullah Al Hammadi, the social expert at the Family Development Foundation. Sulaiman Al Mazmi, Social Welfare Advisor at the Ministry of Community Development, discussed national policies, strategies, and directions. Her Excellency Eng. Sheikha Al Hosani, Executive Director of the Monitoring and Social Innovation Sector at the Department of Community Development, highlighted the policies, strategies and future directions that ensure a high standard of living for senior citizens and residents in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The Senior Citizens’ Rights Law was further discussed by Dr. Turki Hassan Al-Qahtani, a senior family supervisor at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, as a groundbreaking step towards fulfilling covenants.
Government’s social interventions and practices:
Wafa Al Ali, Director of the Family Counseling Department at the Family Development Foundation, moderated the second session of the forum, which highlighted the focus of the government’s social interventions and practises that guarantee senior citizens obtain their rights and meet their needs. Moza Ali Al Mazrouei, a social care specialist at the Family Development Foundation, discussed an integrated social services system for senior citizens and residents in order to ensure their welfare and improve their quality of life. H.E. Ahmed Al-Mail, Director of the Department of Social Services in Sharjah, emphasised that senior citizen rights are protected through social services interventions and programmes. Reem Al Shamsi, Head of the Study and Analysis Department, Social Contracts Department – Community Contributions Authority “Ma’an”, further shed light on the authority’s role in supporting initiatives from the third sector to guarantee the protection and welfare of senior citizens and residents.