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People of determination rock the catwalk with pros in Dubai

Khaleej Times 2019-12-03 20:36:09

Forty people of determination wowed their 600-strong audience at this year's FAME event, held recently at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Beaming with confidence, they trotted down the runaway, sang and danced their hearts out, and owned the stage with power-packed performances.

FAME, which stands for fashion, art, music and entertainment, is an annual inclusive event conceptualised in 2016 by Rosy Ahmed whose 23-year-old daughter, Hana, has Down Syndrome.

"We wanted to create a platform for our participants to be recognised by everyone as people who are just as capable as anyone else. That there should be no discrimination of any sort. The main objective of the show is inclusion, acceptance and diversity," Rosy told Khaleej Times.

This year, for the first time, the event featured a totally inclusive catwalk show that saw determined ones, aged seven to 30, walk the ramp side by side with professional models.

They trotted out pieces from the special collections of an international fashion designer, Rina Dhaka, and a Dubai-based jewellery designer, Niharika Momtaz.

Exceptional ones

Extraordinary talents stole the show. One of them was Pakistani expat Zia Mirza, who cannot hear nor talk but he gave a show stopping dance performance. He coordinates his dance moves with the beats he feels from the vibrations on the floor.

Another performer, Easton Romero, has autism. He was only five when he first played a portion of Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' on the piano.

Santiago Fraser, a 25-year-old with Down Syndrome, was also a participant whose dedication won him medals at the Special Olympics. Johann Mendes, who is on the autism spectrum, was only 17 when his name was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for being able to name the most national capitals within one minute.

Legendary group Guns N' Roses, as well as hard-rock band Point of View, got everyone singing and even invited a number of determined ones to join in.

Perfect show

The big event served as the perfect show for International Day of People with Disabilities, marked around the world on December 3.

Sucheta Phule, who attended the event with her family, said: "The sheer idea of having a platform of inclusion was a step forward as a society. I decided to take my 10-year-old daughter, Anahita, to let her be a part of this celebration."

The show's success, according to Rosy, was also a reflection of the efforts and support that the UAE is extending to promote the skills and talents of people of determination.

"The government is doing a great job by increasing awareness in the UAE and making our schools more inclusive and integrate into the workforce. They're making more progress every year and a vast number of students are achieving work placements which is amazing to see," Rosy said.

saman@khaleejtimes.com