“You are not allowed on the bus, sorry. You have to take a taxi to the Abu Dhabi airport.”
These were the words I heard after going through the trouble of commuting on a public bus, then riding in a taxi, then waiting for a few hours in the middle of the night to catch this specific Etihad Airways bus so that I can board my flight to Beirut.
I showed the man my itinerary which proved that I should be on that bus. He went over to the back and made some calls. Later he came out and asked me, “do you have a temporary disability or a permanent disability? We don’t allow people who have permanent disabilities on our bus.” I needed to catch my flight and was not about to miss it, so I said I had a temporary disability. And then he asked if I could get to the seat by myself, I said yes. This was true. Honestly, anybody observing my custom built wheelchair would know my disability is not temporary. I think, regardless of if it was true or not, he just needed me to say it so he would not be held liable if anything happened. He, then, begrudgingly gave me permission to go on the bus.
This blatant discrimination not only exists for individuals with disabilities but also people of different races and ethnicities. I heard the kinds of passport you hold determines the level of your salary. People who have passports from the USA 🇺🇸 and UK 🇬🇧 earn the most and people in Southeast Asia earn the least (not fact-checked). This is just based on what a Sri Lankan worker here told me.
After that whole ordeal, I got on the bus on time and made it to the Abu Dhabi Airport in plenty of time. When the bus pulled up, the sun was about to rise so it created a nice, calming and beautiful lighting scheme around the airport. The people at the airport were extremely hospitable and warm. The rest of the trip to Beirut was smooth sailing. Having been up the whole night, I slept through the whole four hour plane ride.
And what surprises Beirut had in store for me. 😮 Stay tuned for the next blog post on the major difference between Beirut and Dubai.