Why the WFD Congress in Abu Dhabi is a Game-Changer for MENA Companies Too

Why the WFD Congress in Abu Dhabi is a Game-Changer for MENA Companies Too 

Thought Leadership

By Vitalii Mykhalchuk, CEO of AMSAAN

Abu Dhabi’s selection as the host city for the 20th World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 2027 marks a pivotal milestone, not just for the UAE but for the MENA region. The event provides a platform for experts, industry leaders, and more than 2,000 deaf participants from 125 countries to exchange knowledge and discuss efforts to enhance inclusivity. 

This significant accomplishment holds the potential for profound changes in the lives of individuals within the deaf and hearing-impaired community, offering prospects for economic advancement, improved accessibility, and heightened social integration.

Economic Opportunities for Deaf Individuals

As the UAE prepares to welcome delegates, speakers, and participants from around the globe, it becomes evident that embracing inclusivity is not only a moral obligation for companies but a strategic imperative. Businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to showcase their commitment to inclusivity and accessibility. Moreover, in the business world, identifying untapped markets is essential for sustained growth and success. 

The deaf community represents a significant market with vast potential, despite facing substantial communication barriers in a predominantly spoken and written language world. With an estimated 1.5 billion individuals worldwide, this community offers a substantial consumer base that remains largely untapped. Businesses can unlock the immense potential of the deaf community as both consumers and valuable contributors to the economy.

Deaf Tourism and Accessible Travel

Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) revealed that the UAE’s tourism sector experienced a remarkable surge, attracting 17.15 million international overnight visitors in 2023 – a substantial growth of 19.4% compared to the previous year. 

Contributing to this thriving tourism economy involves ensuring that the majority of establishments are accommodating to deaf individuals. For instance, Amsaan Accessible Tours, the first company specialising in unique tours for deaf people in the MENA region, plays a vital role in this effort by offering tailored experiences that cater to the specific needs of deaf travellers. By establishing an understandable and secure travel framework, the UAE can create an environment advantageous for both the business sector and the deaf public. This commitment extends beyond tourism, as the aim is to integrate inclusive practices across vital sectors such as transportation, healthcare, hospitality, food services, entertainment, and more.

Collaboration and Knowledge-Sharing

Through its inclusive approach, the WFD Congress serves as a foundation where experts, activists, policymakers, educators, and advocates from across the globe converge to address the multifaceted challenges facing the deaf and hearing-impaired community. This two-way communication will benefit organisations by helping them understand the obstacles that deaf [people] face. 

Deaf individuals often have to work harder to prove their worth in applying for jobs and the interview process. Once they are involved, there are internal changes that organisations need to make, such as offering sign language courses to staff members and bringing in deaf speakers to share their workplace insights. 

Hearing loss is the fourth-leading cause of disability globally, which means there is much work to be done to effectively shed biases. One way out of it is by revising and implementing disability inclusion in standardised key performance indicators, metrics, or targets through which organisations measure their impact, performance, and the value they bring to society. 

Equal Access and Participation in Society

The UAE remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering an inclusive society where every individual has equal access and opportunity to participate and contribute. 

According to the World Health Organisation, by 2050, there could be over 700 million people with disabling hearing loss. This underscores the imperative of integrating deaf individuals into the fabric of economic progress and accessibility initiatives in the UAE. By embracing inclusivity as a core value and implementing concrete measures to support deaf individuals, the UAE not only enhances the quality of life for its citizens but also sets a powerful example for global inclusivity efforts. Through collaborative efforts and ongoing commitment, the UAE continues to pave the way towards a more equitable and accessible future for all.

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