RIYADH: Riyadh has been declared the Kingdom’s first disabled-friendly city. Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman made the declaration on Sunday after signing a series of agreements for disability accessibility between the Prince Salman Center for Disability Research (PSCDR) and a number of government departments.

Addressing a ceremony that was held on the occasion, Prince Salman highlighted the government’s support for humanitarian and charitable activities. “Saudi Arabia is proud of being called a humanitarian Kingdom and its king is called the humanitarian king,” he said.

Prince Salman said Riyadh would be the first city to provide comprehensive accessibility for the disabled and the elderly. He urged all relevant government departments and private agencies to cooperate with the project.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of PSCDR, described the disability accessibility program as a turning point. He said the new program reflects the government’s support for people who are disabled to make them productive citizens.

The program does not target the disabled alone but offers the development of environment for all members of society in order to reach public and private places like shopping centers, commercial institutions, car parks, schools, mosques and homes, he said.

Before signing the agreements, Prince Salman received the Arab Pioneers award instituted by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. PSCDR was given the award last year in appreciation of its efforts in researching disable matters.

Speaking about the disabled accessibility program, Prince Sultan said it was initiated by Prince Salman. “The idea came about four years ago and PSCDR developed it into a comprehensive program for the benefit of people of special needs in Saudi society,” he added.

He said all institutions in the Kingdom would be asked to apply certain standards to ensure accessibility of the disabled and elderly. Statistics show that the age of 65 percent of the Kingdom’s population is below 25. “This leads us to the fact that within 35 years, the Kingdom would need more such comprehensive social programs,” he said.

Prince Sultan said the center was coordinating with government departments and private agencies to implement the program.

“Today we have signed agreements with 11 departments and agencies and we would like to sign similar accords with other departments and agencies,” he added.