Dubai Universal Design Code

The Dubai Universal Design Code covers everything you need to know about accessibility in the built environment. It’s a good example of joining dots between the accessible built environment, accessible transport and wayfinding. This is a very detailed document and appears to be a collation of standards documents from around the globe.

This document brings together all the elements of the Australian access standards with those that are missing but also essential. Under the three headings of built environment, transport and wayfinding are details of every design feature.

Front cover of the Dubai Universal Design Code. There is a graphic depicting the Dubai skyline in shades of purple, green and red.

Built environment

The section on the built environment covers the usual elements such as ramps, doors, and sanitary facilities. In addition, it includes details such as glass surfaces, tables and chairs, and window hardware.

Public spaces

The section on public spaces is about urban design, pedestrian crossings, parking bays, restaurant terraces, construction works, bus shelters, and playgrounds. The buildings section includes a note for gender equality, stages and backstage, hotel rooms and mosques. Housing is included in this section along with libraries, schools, laboratories and car parking buildings.


The transport section includes details for urban buses, metro trains, trams, marine vessels, school buses, accessible taxis, and accessible websites and apps. Service details are covered with signage, seating, announcements, fares and ticketing. Accessible taxis have their own sub-section including vehicle design, and pick up and drop off points.


The wayfinding section has a similar amount of detail: typography, symbols, layout and line spacing, Braille, and tactile maps. There are more than 300 pages to this document which indicates the level of detail. The document includes 3 annexures: drawings, anthropometrics, and required accessibility for each building type.

The Dubai Universal Design Code is in plain English language and as such it can serve as a basic design guide to check for forgotten details on any project. A valuable contribution to the literature on standards, codes and guides for accessibility in one document.

Expo 2020 Dubai – a review of accessibility

This study gathered the experiences of people with disability and accessibility experts at the Expo 2020 with a view to making future large events accessible to all. One of the findings is that the efforts of access consultants was patchy because they were not involved from the start of any project. As a consequence, it was not possible to correct design errors.

While the provisions for people with disability were better than expected, they were incomplete or disconnected. Some lessons for the 2032 Brisbane Games?

Logo of the Expo 2020 Dubai UAE. Features a daisy type design with lots of circles forming a circle in brown orange and yellow.

The title is, Accessibility of large events: an empirical study of the Expo 2020 Dubai.

From the abstract

Event management is a growing sector in the tourism industry and one of the fastest growing industries in the world. The sector contributes significantly to global economies and provides substantial employment opportunities.

The objective of this paper is to contribute to understanding the accessibility of large events in an increasingly technology-dependent industry.

We evaluated the accessibility of the Expo 2020 in Dubai. Expos are attended by millions of visitors and showcase the latest technologies and innovation. These factors make these events the ideal breeding ground for the implementation of advanced technologies.

The study draws on data from observation, in-depth interviews and online, qualitative questionnaires. The participants are people with disabilities (PwDs), the organizations in charge of the accessibility of the Expo and staff that worked at the event—some of whom were also PwDs.

We discuss the experiences of PwDs at the event, the accessibility provision in place and the challenges and insights of accessibility experts involved, as well as the implications and recommendations for managing the accessibility of large events.

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