AccessAbilities Expo concludes on a successful note
The Middle East’s largest Expo on disabilities, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, concluded on a highly successful note witnessing a heavy visitor turnout and a strong interest from international accessible technology and solutions providers in the region.
The three-day expo received an estimated 8,000 visitors, who included top- tier officials and decision makers from the government sector, people of determination, families, school and college students, international, regional and local experts and representatives of companies from healthcare, tourism, education, telecommunication, technology and other sectors.
The expo, in which more than 150 exhibitors from 40 countries participated, was also used as a launchpad by international, regional and local exhibitors to introduce the world’s latest assistive technology.
More than 350 meetings took place between exhibitors and potential customers during the expo.
The exhibitors reported a tremendous response to the expo and many international companies said they are planning to appoint representatives for their companies in the UAE.
The expo also saw successful hosting of Inclusion in the Workplace conference, which was attended by over 150 human resource and corporate social responsibility professionals; and Knowledge Centre, which drew visitors in large numbers. Both the conferences involved interactive and insightful sessions by international, regional and local experts, who discussed laws and highly relevant issues concerning lives of people having disabilities.
AccessAbilities Expo had a strong government support from government bodies including Ministry of Community Development, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Municipality, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Dubai Police, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, Community Development Authority (CDA), Dubai Customs, Dubai Ambulance Services (DCAS) and Zayed Higher Organisation (ZHO), who showcased new services, employment opportunities, and facilities aimed at inclusion and ensuring happiness of their customers and employees having disabilities
Exhibitors and visitors said the Expo not only gave them an insight into the latest technologies, it turned out to be a highly rewarding experience for them.
Mawfaq Matari, Managing Partner, AMMT, said: “There is a marked different in the levels of awareness among people. This year AccessAbilities Expo has brought a lot more technology and this year, there are more international and GCC visitors as well, we received a tremendous response from them and we see this expo as an ideal platform to connect with people having disabilities, suppliers and organisations from various parts of the world.”
Dr Khawla Salem Al Saeedi, Chairman and the President Emirates Autism Society, said the exhibition opened doors for them and to meet and share expertise with other centres and professionals. “Through the platform of AccessAbilities Expo we reached out to many visitors from about our society and the work we are doing to support people of determination especially in the area of autism,” she said.
Dr G Rajarathinam, Managing Director of Star Kims International Hospital from India, who participated in the Expo, said: “This expo gave us a unique opportunity to connect with people from the entire Gulf region as well as other countries. We got a tremendous response, due to which we are now planning to open a consultancy in the UAE.”
Zain Ahmad, Director, UAE-based Cedas Middle East, who exhibited electro-mechanical accessibility products, said: “We received a lot of response from individual customers from UAE, Kuwait, for your products which include inclined platform lifts for wheelchair users, vehicle platform lifts, pool lifts and others. We are keen on participating in the next edition of the expo as it is a very focused exhibition where we are able to meet our potential clients from across different segments.”
Renate Baur-Ritcher, Programme Manager, SEDRA Foundation, said: “AccessAbilities Expo is a unique platform to meet leading figures, influencers, families and individuals to encourage community members in large numbers to build this ecosystem for all. Establishing an efficient ecosystem is the top enabler for effective inclusion of people of determination. During this year’s AccessAbilities Expo SEDRA Foundation was exclusively represented by young adults with disabilities. We updated visitors on vocational programs, our WIN UAE platform for corporate partnerships towards employment, professional development and the family support group FACES and the nine SEDRA representatives changed biases and perceptions in minutes.”
Among the assistive technology products launched during the three-day event were Smart Braille notetaker with Artificial Intelligence voice secretary by Neo Access from Korea, muti-functional and multi-sports wheelchairs by UK-based Roma Medical, the world’s first ‘Amal’ smart glasses to assist people having visual impairment, unique hearing aids, device to cure stuttering, flexi ramps and many others.
The expo also witnessed the launch of a new television channel for people with disabilities and an online portal giving an opportunity to people having disabilities to earn a regular income.
International and GCC visitors
Helen Molodanova, a visitor from Ukrain, said the AccessAbilities Expo helped her know about latest technologies and equipment catering to the needs of people of determination and networking. “We found the government initiatives, new technology and several training methodologies being adopted here very useful and we are keen on implementing some of them back in our country. Our main goal to visit this expo was to network with local and regional institutes dealing with people with disabilities in different fields and know more about training and rehabilitation techniques being using by these centres, and I must say we got more than what we expected.”
Visitors from the GCC said the Expo gave them a remarkable opportunity to connect with international companies, learn about the UAE’s initiatives and latest technology during AccessAbilities Expo, which they are keen on telling their friends and families in their countries.
Fatima Al-Nimr, a Saudi visitor who accompanied her husband to the exhibition, said: “I and my husband came from Saudi Arabia specifically to visit the exhibition and to see the special equipment and possessions of the owners, especially since I have 3 children with severe disabilities. The facilities, technology and services in the UAE and the great initiatives make it a great role model to follow.”
Saeed Khalfan, an Omani visitor, said: “I came with my brother came from Oman specially to attend the exhibition, where we are looking for modern equipment and technology for the condition of my brother who suffers from muscular atrophy and we have found many devices and techniques suitable for him. Thank you to the UAE.”
Families who visited the Expo said the Expo gave them access some of the latest products, which will be of great use to them.
Fatima Ali, 29, a visitor, said: “I came to the exhibition to see the equipment and technology of people with disabilities, especially the wheelchairs, as well as to communicate with government and private bodies and institutions that are concerned with caring for and serving stakeholders. The exhibition is really a great place to get the necessary equipment and technologies.”
Saeed Al Hani, a wheelchair-bound visitor, said he explored a wide range of latest technology equipment to deal with all kinds of disabilities. “I was keen on checking new equipment related to people bound to wheelchair and am very happy I saw this UK-based firm showcasing a wide range of new solutions. The expo is indeed a great place to find innovative solutions related to disabilities and help people of determination,” he said.
Majed Ahmed, a visual impaired visitor with his friends said he found the wide range of products particularly for those with visual impairment quite useful. “We found it a great event with exhibitors from all over the world as we want to see the best technology available especially in the wake of Expo 2020 when more people will visit this city being developing as a disabled-friendly with every passing day,” he said.
Emirates supported the expo as the official airline for the event and Etisalat extended its support as the Strategic Telecommunications Partner. Flydubai, the Gold Sponsors for AccessAbilities, supported the expo by providing three free tickets for people of determination, to visit the show.
Dubai Centre for People of Determination, Strategic Sports Partner, gave an opportunity of participation in unified sports during the expo.
Arabian Millennium Medical Trading (AMMT), Foundation Partner of AccessAbilities Expo, has brought a range of the latest assistive technology devices including “miracle gadget” named ‘Speecheasy’, to control stuttering and speak fluently after training within about three hours. Alpha Destinations Management, supported AccessAbilities Expo as the Strategic Tourism Partner.
AccessAbilities Expo was jointly organised by Reed Exhibitions Middle East and Nadd AlShiba PR and Event Management.
Daniyal Qureshi, Group Exhibition Director, Reed Exhibitions Middle East, said: “The expo has been remarkably successful and we would like to thank especially the government for their support and vision toward inclusion and accessibility. We received a very positive feedback from the participants as well as new companies, a large number of who are keen on joining the 2018 edition. The path to inclusion and change is long but the UAE and Dubai are making rapid strides in this area and we are honoured to be a part of this important journey. We look forward to bringing all our partners and even more back to the 2018 edition.”