I was happy to see my work presented at the Expo, one of the inmates tells Gulf News
Dubai: If you have visited Expo 2020 Dubai, chances are you may have seen those large wooden benches at the corners and along the pathways.
Guess what? These wooden benches were made by the inmates at Dubai Central Jail.
Major General Ali Al Shamali, Director of the General Department of Punitive and Correctional Institutions at Dubai Police, told Gulf News that more than 300 large outdoor benches in the mega-event were made at Dubai’s Al Awir correctional facility.
“Dubai Central Jail has a special rehabilitation programme to teach new skills to inmates who are willing to learn. Our inmates have crafted many products, including these outdoor benches at Expo 2020 Dubai. We are proud that we have participated in Expo-2020 Dubai by supplying the event with these traditional benches,” Maj. Gen. Al Shamali said.
Dubai inmates developed their skills in crafting wood and making these beautiful traditional benches at the craft centre before the opening of the global mega event.
“We presented the benches to Expo 2020 Dubai’s organisers. They modified the design of the benches and asked us to make some samples. After they saw the samples, they asked for 323 outdoor benches,” he added.
Inmates used high-quality wood with a special paint that is highly resistant to humidity, heat and rain. “There is a guarantee of up to five years for our outdoor benches.”
Maj. Gen. Al Shamali said that work was done during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the correctional facility was forced to reduce the capacity of inmates inside the craft centre as a precautionary measure. “Before the pandemic, we used to have up to 220 inmates working in the craft section, but during and after the pandemic, in view of the precautionary measures, the number was reduced to 64,” he said.
Despite the challenges, the inmates managed to finish the task on time. These benches can be seen around different pavilions at the global mega event.
“Expo is an international event and seeing these benches at such an event made the inmates and the central jail happy,” Maj. Gen. Al Shamali added.
For the 30-year-old inmate from Cameroon, who is one of the inmates to have crafted these benches, it was a moment of pride when he saw these beautiful benches at the mega event.
“Work was intensive. We put what we learned into practise. We had heard that these benches would be used at Expo 2020 Dubai, but when we finally saw them in the newspaper, we were really happy,” the Cameroonian inmate told Gulf News.
He said he used to come to the craft centre five days a week to learn this new skill which would come in handy even after leaving the jail.
“Dubai Police helped us learn a new skill. It’s a great opportunity for us to make use of it and start a new life once we are out of jail,” he added.
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