Improving Qatar tourism with the Accessible Qatar Conference 2017
Have you ever dreamt of travelling the world but were too afraid of the communication difficulties you’ll inevitably experience? As a deaf person, the sheer effort of day-to-day interactions can be enough to discourage a visit to the grocery store, let alone an exotic travel destination like Qatar.
The small Arab nation jutting out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf is the world’s richest country, with the highest GDP per capita ($140,649) as of 2016. By taking advantage of their natural gas and oil resources, they have made wise investments into the Qatar tourism industry. People from all around the world are eager to explore Qatar’s exciting desert life, have fun at the Aqua Park and relax on one of their many beaches.
Travelling when deaf or hard of hearing can be challenging, especially because our needs have been largely ignored in the disability movement. Staying abroad in a hotel is a huge safety concern, due to the lack of properly adapted alerting systems. Also, we can’t use the telephone services to call the reception desk when we need something. This is very inconvenient, and that’s before even leaving the “comfort” of your hotel.
Raising awareness on the accessibility issues – better access for all people
Accessible Qatar is a Sasol initiative, providing the disabled community instant access to reliable information by combining data with user-submitted reviews and ratings via a smartphone application and website. Enabling the disabled community to explore the beautiful country and hopefully encouraging other countries to do the same.
Sasol teamed up with Project Qatar, the leading construction exhibition in Qatar, to raise awareness of the accessibility issues of disabled people travelling and seeking appropriate accommodation. The Accessible Qatar Conference was held on the 8th and 9th of May 2017.
Project developers, owners, managers and operators came together with over a dozen international accessibility experts to discuss how they can improve accessibility to existing and future venues.
The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of the accessibility issues in the Middle East and share knowledge on how various everyday life sectors can be made more accessible. This is an especially important issue because, In December 2010, Qatar was the first Arab nation ever to be awarded the coveted position of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The conference took place in Doha and focused on the importance of incorporating accessibility into all sectors of the economy. The sectors covered during the conference included tourism, architectural design, media workshops, sports, work environments and theme park accessibility.
During the conference, global accessibility concepts were assessed, and new approaches and initiatives that will improve access were identified. The conference helps give a voice to the disabled community of Qatar, ensuring their needs will be met.
Accessible venues and tourism for all
One of the primary focuses of the two-day conference was on the accessibility of hotels for disabled people. The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) spoke of how they launched an extensive inspection of hotels in Qatar to ensure that all the hotels will be accessible to the disabled community by 2018.
Based on their findings, the hotels are making required adjustments to improve access, including training hospitality staff members to manage and meet the needs of guests with special needs.
As an added incentive, the criteria for awarding hotel stars are now directly affected by how accessible the hotel is.
The conference brought together local, regional and international leaders, policy makers and experts in the accessibility field. Guest speakers from Japan, Italy and Australia discussed ways in which destinations can be made more accessible to people with disabilities.
In the spirit of accessibility, 121 Captions was asked to caption the conference so deaf and hard of hearing people could also be included in the important discussions. Being that we are the only service provider of live captioning for deaf people in the Middle East, 121 Captions was the obvious choice.
The first Accessible Qatar conference brought together the who’s who of Qatar’s accessibility community and provided a great platform for rich dialogue between the policy makers, professionals and of course the end users who would enjoy Qatar’s accessible development. With the wise leadership investing in making the Qatar more accessible to people with disabilities, we hope to see Qatar as the accessibility capital of the world.
said Mayouf Rouf, Director – Marketing & Outreach of SuperWire Assistive, an assistive technology company that represents 121 Captions in the country.
Encouraging knowledge sharing for accessible tourism
The Accessible Qatar conference is yet another step to improving our confidence in visiting different destinations. Knowing our needs will be taken into consideration and provided for opens up a whole new world of travel opportunities.
As a service provider, I believe in the power such conferences have in raising deaf awareness and encouraging the exploration and development of technologies that will enable and foster universal access.
You can download the free Accessible Qatar mobile app from Windows, Google Play and App stores and gain instant information on the accessible public and touristic locations in Qatar.
If your business is thinking about hosting a conference and want to ensure it’s accessible to all persons attending, then contact us for all your captioning requirements.
To ensure your conference ticks all the boxes for deaf people, download our e-book: The Ultimate Guide to Running Successful Events for Deaf People for HR Professionals – available in both English and Arabic.
Enjoy all the photos – I had to share them as I love this beautiful, beautiful country!