The gathering provided a platform for meaningful conversations that prioritise inclusion, wellness, growth, and purpose for People of Determination in the UAE
Dubai, United Arab Emirates– Hosted and organised by Hilton in partnership with the Dubai Executive Council, the Department of Economy & Tourism, and other major hospitality companies, the inaugural People of Determination in the Hospitality Industry panel event took place at Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah on Saturday, 4th February.
Accor, InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Radisson, and Rotana Hotels & Resorts were among the international hospitality companies that Hilton partnered with for this event.
A first of its kind initiative in the UAE for the hospitality industry, the event comprised of 100 participants including People of Determination, human resources professionals, employers, families, caregivers, and representatives from community organisations such as Al Noor Special Needs, Emirates Down Syndrome Association, ImInclusive, and SEDRA.
The event provided a platform for exchanging ideas and experiences towards creating an inclusive and enabling workplace environment for People of Determination in the hospitality industry. The agenda featured panel discussions from People of Determination, as well as employers and inspirational speakers, including Jessica Smith, and Peter Wheeler, Former CEO of the Special Olympics.
“At Hilton, we are committed to building a truly inclusive workplace in which all our Team Members can thrive,” said Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President, Middle East, Africa and Türkiye, Hilton. “Collaborating with industry leaders to launch this inaugural event is an example of this commitment in action. As hospitality professionals, it is imperative we lead by example and foster an inclusive workplace culture that helps People of Determination realise a positive future by empowering them in society.”
His Excellency Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, commented: “We are excited to partner with Hilton and other hospitality leaders to launch the inaugural edition of this important event for the industry, which is in line with our visionary leadership’s goal to make Dubai the friendliest destination for all and the most liveable city in the world.”
“As momentum continues to accelerate across travel and tourism in Dubai and the UAE, it is crucial that industry leaders engage in meaningful conversations around diversity and inclusion in the workplace, paving the way for new initiatives that will further enhance the quality of life for People of Determination and create suitable career opportunities within the tourism ecosystem. With the continued support of our stakeholders and partners, Dubai remains committed to providing an enabling environment to ensure inclusivity in all aspects of our destination offering.”
The World Health Organisation has identified that an estimated 1.3 billion people (16% of the global population) – or one in six people worldwide experience significant disability, and have twice the risk of developing health conditions such as depression, asthma, diabetes, stroke, obesity, or poor oral health. According to figures from the United Nations, between 50% and 70% of persons with disabilities who are of working age in industrialised countries are unemployed – that figure rises to a staggering 80% – 90% in countries that are still developing.
The consensus from panellists and attendees at the event was that organisations need to stop viewing the support of People of Determination as a ‘privilege’, but shift their perception towards making this a necessity and a way of life by developing inclusive recruitment policies, eliminating stereotypes, and sensitising Team Members in the workplace through regular trainings. In the words of Jessica Smith, “Disability isn’t just good for business; it is the right thing to do.”