His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports, said the remarkable success of AccessAbilities Expo has made it a milestone event in the UAE’s journey to becoming the world’s friendliest place for people with disabilities.
“We are very proud to see the tremendous response that AccessAbilities Expo has generated in the first edition itself. The strong support from government bodies, exhibitors and educational centres from all over the world will ensure the success of this Expo, which is another milestone for the UAE and Dubai towards attaining the target of becoming disabled-friendly by 2020,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
AccessAbilities Expo 2016, held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, attracted more than 6,000 visitors including top- tier officials and decision makers, children with disabilities and their families, representatives of private companies from healthcare, tourism, education, telecommunication, technology and service providers.
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) successfully participated in the Expo where it showcased its new smart services and initiatives aimed at helping passengers and customers with disabilities.
The Expo had a strong government support from departments including the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Dubai Municipality, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Department of Economic Development (DED), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Community Development Authority (CDA) and Dubai Customs as well as from top special education centres from across the GCC.
Major General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, said: “In line with the vision of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, of making Dubai the friendliest city in the world and strengthening the image of Dubai as a ‘City that Cares’ for people with disabilities, the GDRFA in Dubai is committed to making the lives of individuals
with special needs and disabilities comfortable by ensuring easy and quick access to our services.”
“We have introduced the Smart Gate Special Needs counter, which allows any passenger on a wheel chair a smooth access and a convenient airport experience. GDRFA Dubai offer jobs to special needs individuals, trains its staff to learn sign language and provide many smart services for those with special needs and disabilities so that they do not have to
visit GDRFA centres and can conduct transactions online,” he said.
The GDRFA Dubai has introduced Smart Gate Special Counter for the disabled to enhance the airport experience, has staff trained to deal with customers having disabilities, provides special facilities for its employees with disabilities, has launched a forum to generate awareness about visual impairment and how to people with visual disability in the right manner.
The Directorate also offered free eGate registration for the visitors at the Expo.
The department has set up special counters and made dedicated arrangements at the entrances, smart gates and e-gates for the benefit of passengers with disabilities.
More than 150 exhibitors from over 30 countries participated in the 3-day event, which led to more than 200 deals between the exhibitors and participating organisations. The event also saw successful hosting of ‘Knowledge Centre’ and active participation from the visitors in a dedicated ‘Activities Area’.
Commenting on the show, Sameerah Bint Abdullah Al Faisal
Al Farhan Al Saud, President of Charitable Society of Autism Families and President of Saudi Schizophrenia Charity Association, said: “AccessAbilities Expo is a very important event as it brings together experts, care givers and product suppliers all on a common platform, under one roof.
I want to thank the organisers for reaching out to our organization and inviting us to be part of this wonderful event. Saudi Arabia has a population of 27 million and has a high percentage of disabled kids. The government is taking many initiatives for people with disabilities and there will also be a forum to spread awareness of the disease and to discuss causes and treatment methods. The Expo has helped us know about the latest services, tools and facilities which can benefit people having disabilities.”
Participants from GCC countries said the Expo gave them a remarkable opportunity
to connect with other organisations and private entities from across the GCC as well as other regions worldwide.
Dr Tareq Al-Shatti, Director General Kuwait’s Public Authority for the Disabled said: “AccessAbilities Expo has brought all stakeholders together on a single platform and given us an opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences.
As a neighbouring country, we are particularly happy to have met organisations and exhibitors from the GCC, we feel we are close to each other. Kuwait is actively working enhancing lives of people with disabilities. Some of the latest smart assistive technology particularly interested us and during the Expo we even arranged with some of the exhibitors to have further cooperation. We believe latest technology can play a major role in improving the lives of the disabled.”
The exhibitors said the Expo not only gave them an insight into the latest technologies, it turned out to be a highly rewarding experience for them.
International exhibitor German Limbtech, which provides state-of-the art orthotic and prosthetic devices, said it is keen on opening a Centre of Excellence in Dubai. Wendelin Lauxen, Managing Director, German LimbTech Orthopaedic Technology, said: “During the AccessAbilities Expo, we saw Dubai’s efforts to provide the best facilities to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. We are keen to open a centre of excellence in Dubai.”
Lauxen said AccessAbilities Expo provided an opportunity for the company to reach out to its potential buyers. “We received a highly positive response during the expo from decision-makers, private entities and visitors with disabilities. We look forward to participating in the next edition of the Expo.”
Mawfaq Matari, Managing Partner, AMMT, said: “We are very happy to have participated in AccessAbilities Expo. I consider this show as a starting point for a much bigger show in the future. There is a dire need to hold such events that focus on the needs of people with disabilities. We had ‘quality’ visitors. I was happy to see the visitors with disabilities did not have to go through much trouble to see the products on display. The event was focused and brought together all products of interest under one roof. The exhibition was well laid out and visitors with disabilities could finish viewing the exhibition in one day.
Also most of the government departments were present here and they were easily accessible. We eagerly look forward to the next edition of this Expo.”
Italian exhibitor Troncone said encouraged by the tremendous response received at the Expo, the company is planning to have a representative office in Dubai.
Stephano, CEO, Troncone, said: “We got a very encouraging response and had a lot useful of networking meetings. We see a high demand for our special wheelchair and are now planning to have a representative office in Dubai.”
Bilal Bihag, Product Manager for Home Care, OTP, said: “It was a well-organised event and the feedback was very positive. We had a lot of enquiries from end-users, especially for our wheelchairs. It was interesting to see how so many companies came together under one roof to cater to the needs of people with disability. It was also good to know the government supporting this initiative and I hope to see more such events in the future. We look forward to participating in the next edition of the Expo.”
Dr Abdullah Al Yosef, Managing Director, JCI Medical Solutions, which exhibited a range of disability equipment, said, “We have a sense of fulfilment that we could rope in companies to exhibit the latest technologies and services for the benefit of people with various disabilities.”
Mariya Ivanova, Marketing and PR Manager, Mafraq Hotel, said: “For tourism to be accessible, it is important that hotels are well prepared. At Mafraq Hotel, we have six accessible rooms and our staff is well trained to deal customers with different types of disabilities. At AccessAbilities Expo, we explored latest innovative technology from all over the world. Through our participation, which is a part of our CSR initiatives, we were also able to show our support to people having disabilities.”
Sam Abboushi, CEO of SAFE Mobility, said: “The excellent feedback from visitors gives us the encouragement to bring more products and services in the fu
ture. People with disabilities in this region need tailor-made products and services, and we are confident that we can offer them.”
International experts from UK, Switzerland, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE discussed key issues concerning people with disabilities during sessions at the ‘Knowledge Centre’ in the Expo. Individuals with disabilities also shared their life stories during the forum, inspiring the audience.
Sharan Anil, an artist from Mawaheb from Beautiful people, who shared his life experience during a session at the Knowledge Centre, said: “It was a great experience to share my story. I was overwhelmed by the response, many people approached me for a job. It was also amazing to see all the medical equipment and technology that can help a person with disability improve the quality of their life.” Families who visited the Expo said the Expo gave them access some of the latest products, which will be of great use to them.
“Till I visited the expo, I never imagined that I could find the tailor-made solution and related devise which I was looking for elsewhere for my daughter who has a
disability. I thank the organisers for this great help,” said Faizal Ahmed, a Dubai resident.
The Expo also gave volunteering opportunities to youngsters from the region. Fatima Al Jassim, 20, Emirati, Media Head of Al Mammom Equine Therapy, who volunteered at the Expo: “The opportunity to volunteer at AccessAbilities was an amazing experience for me since I am also differently-abled. I got a chance to meet so many people from my community, learnt a lot by interacting with others. There should be more such events during the year as it brings the community together on a common ground. We also get the chance to socialize with the community and share our experiences and difficulties. I will surely come back next year.”
AccessAbilities Expo was organised by Reed Exhibitions Middle East and Nadd AlShiba PR and Event Management.
Daniyal Qureshi, Group exhibition Director, Reed Exhibitions Middle East, said: It has been an outstanding success. We are pleased that the government, disability centres, technology providers and community have come together so cohesively. There were many deals struck at the show and new partnerships built between some of the countries participating.
We look forward to bringing all our partners and even more back to the 2017 edition in partnership with Dubai Government and AccessAbilities Expo will lead the way for inclusion and empowerment for person with disabilities in the region.”