Wider Participation by Local Centres, Authorities at AccessAbilities Expo

  • Participation by care and rehabilitation centres, hospitals and elderly care centres reflects the humanity of the UAE
  • Science & technology in the service of humanity
  • Prestigious Local and GCC Centres showcase new Initiatives and applications

The 5th edition of the AccessAbilities Expo received wider participation by the local government authorities in charge of caring for and rehabilitating People of Determination, dedicated care and rehabilitation centres, hospitals and clinics providing rehabilitation services, and elderly care centres, reflected the humanity of the UAE and its sophistication in dealing with this segment of the society.

Organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, the activities of the event witnessed remarkable attendance pointing out a noticeable increase in the number of visitors compared to previous editions, especially with the increasing number of centres and companies participating in the event, and the evolution of the products it provides to serve People of Determination (PODs). The Expo is organised by Nadd Al Shiba PR & Events Management.

Numerous local and GCC centres are participating in the event, as they are keen to provide their various services and innovations to those who need them, including the Dubai-based Omniyat Centre. The centre was established at the initiative of Dr Adel Al Marzooqi, who said that he was motivated to do so by his personal experience with PODs, which prompted him to think about the suffering of this segment and their families, especially given the fact that the responsibility towards them is shared between parents and society; parents suffer a great deal in caring for and rehabilitating their children and they need support from a scientific, psychological, and faith standpoint. Hence, the association provides many assistance programmes, such as the ‘Coach for Mothers of PODs’ programme, which provides training courses for mothers that include religious, awareness, training, and rehabilitation workshops to help them deal with their children.

Omniyat also provides the ‘Yarwin’ (They Tell) project, which allows mothers of PODs to talk about their experiences in dealing with their children, and exchange benefits and expertise, through which they comfort each other and strengthen the value of patience and will. The association also organises the Mothers of PODs Choir, which is currently preparing a melodic song with special lyrics to be released on the 3rd of December, the International Day of People with Special Needs. The song will be dedicated to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who gave the name ‘People of Determination’ to people with disabilities.

Shaima Al Oulaimi, Director of Community Service at the Omniyat Centre, said that the centre was opened only one month ago in Dubai, and is receiving increasing demand from the POD community. The centre provides many services including therapeutic sessions, and training courses such as drawing, flower arranging, the Young Seller course, the Read course, and the cinema and photography course. It also focuses on supporting mothers of PODs by delivering many courses to help them care for and rehabilitate their children.

Her Highness Princess Nouf bint Abdul Rahman Al Saud, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the ‘For Them’ Association for Serving People with Disabilities, is participating the Expo in share benefits and experiences with other centres participating in this important event, and to convey the association’s message of caring for and rehabilitating people with special needs, as well as presenting the association’s achievements and sharing them with others. HH presented to the visitors one of the most important achievements of the association, which is the ‘Tibyan’ application, which provides a facilitated translation of the interpretation of the Holy Qur’an in sign language. Launched about a year and a half ago, work on the application is still ongoing to complete the rest of the parts. The project is patronised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Dawah and Guidance, in addition to sign translators, photographers and producers. The total cost for the complete production of this application is estimated at approximately 15 million Saudi riyals.

Nicknamed ‘Mother of the Disabled’ because she has been working in this humanitarian field for more than 20 years, HH Princess Nouf explained that the association, which was founded in 2018 in Riyadh, aims to empower and enhance the quality of life for PODs. The association concluded many partnerships in all regions of the Kingdom to ensure its services reach the largest possible segment of this category; its services include: providing various devices for people with special needs, holding training courses, providing jobs, and enhancing the quality of life of people with special needs. HH added: “Our services reach approximately 2,200 beneficiaries, and in delivering these services we are assisted by the ‘Giving Ambassadors’, who are a group of experts and specialists in this field who work voluntarily to help us deliver aid to deserving PODs.”

The Princess worked to embrace the talents and creativity of PODs in the association, as she provided them with a gypsum decoration course, which is an art that is limited to the Levant, but has been brought to Saudi Arabia, where visually impaired beneficiaries who have manual production skills are trained in order to make beautiful gypsum paintings. The association showcased the artwork of one of its employees, Faris, 20 years old, who suffers from Down Syndrome, who makes very creative and masterful paintings out of gypsum. Faris’ mother, Firdous Awadh, who came from Dammam to support her son’s participation in the event, said, “I fought the world for my son, and I helped him to love and accept himself. I developed and taught him until he discovered his talents and was able to create these beautiful, elaborate paintings, which made the association employ him in this craft.”

The Onaizah Association for Development and Human Services ‘Ta’heel’, a non-profit charity established in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1991, provides an integrated system of education, care, rehabilitation, treatment, empowerment and training services to various categories of disabilities of all age groups. Association Director, Youssef Abdullah Al Rumaih, said that the board of directors consists of a group of volunteers with different qualifications and experiences who contributed with their ideas and follow-up to creating a qualitative shift in the association and the services it provides. He clarified that the association is concerned with providing care and rehabilitation services for people with disabilities, especially mental disabilities. As disabilities are often accompanied by other disabilities, the association has specialized centres for physical therapy and rehabilitation and a specialized centre for speech therapy. He added that the association is also well-known for its Othman Al Quwaider Centre for Disability Research, which provides the association with a lot of research and studies that serve people with special needs.

Al Rumaih remarked that the association was founded based on partnerships between the well-off people of Onaizah who donated to establish these centres, so it was named after them, and it consists of six centres. There are now about 1,000 beneficiaries receiving care and rehabilitation on a daily basis in the morning period, whereas the total number of beneficiaries is about 11 thousand annually. What distinguishes this association is that it provides care and rehabilitation services to people with special needs from birth to employment and even marriage when this is possible.

“Out of our keenness to be among the top 10 associations in the region, our participation in this wonderful and distinguished AccessAbilities Expo comes in order to share our long-standing expertise in the field of care and rehabilitation and to also benefit from the services provided by UAE and other Arab and international companies participating in the event. This enables us to be informed about global experiences in this field, communicate with them, and learn from their experiences, especially since the event is one of the largest in the world in this field, with participation from the largest companies that provide the best services for PODs,” Al-Rumaih said.

Musaed Al-Azmi, from Kuwait, said he is participating in the event by launching the People with Disabilities application, which is the first application of its kind to serve PODs, through providing them with all the services they need in terms of providing information on available rehabilitation centres, doctors, pharmacies, dedicated clinics, transportation, entertainment, education, etc., at the level of the Arabian Gulf region.

The idea was conceived by Hamad Habib, the father of a child suffering from a severe mental disability. Due to the difficulties and suffering he faced in obtaining care services for his son, he came up with this innovation that not only provides facilities for people with disabilities and their families, but also creates a unique experience and community service for them. The application is constantly being modified and developed to provide PODs with new and modern services.

In her special stand, Zeina Marouf receives visitors with a broad smile that explains how happy she is to participate in this important event. Zeina says: “I was keen to visit the event annually, as it is an important event that provides us, as PODs, with all the needs, medical devices and assistance that we need in our daily lives. As I was very impressed with the event, what it offers and the way it is organized, I had hoped to participate one day, and that day is here now; I am participating in the AccessAbilities Expo, thank God.”

Showcasing her commercial products under the ‘Zeina’ label, she added: “During the Covid-19 pandemic and its disruptions, I learned the art of ‘resin’, which is a new art, and began making many crafts, antiques, utensils, distinctive accessories, paintings, coloured chess stones, and cup coasters; and this is what I offer to visitors in this event today.”