Steve Carpenter

Head of Health, Safety & Risk Management , WSP

Steve Carpenter is the Head of Health, Safety & Risk Management at WSP and member of the UAE Advisory Committee for People of Determination.

Steve is a highly qualified health & safety professional with 14 years of experience in Accessibility and Occupational Health & Safety. Steve has been involved in most of the strategic Accessibility efforts in Dubai and the UAE supporting The Executive Council of Dubai, the Dubai Government Excellence Program (DGEP) and the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) with their Accessibility programs. He has also undertaken Accessibility audits and strategies with a number of private and public clients in the UAE.

Hideto Kijima

President, Japan Accessible Tourism Center

Wheelchair traveler visited 157 countries. 17 years old he injured his spinal cord T-11 in a rugby accident but has not stopped dreaming to explore the world. Kiji started his professional career in an advertisement agency as a marketing planner. In 2004 after 7 years in his old job he decided to dedicate his time to his own business as writer, consultant for accessibility issues and motivational speaker. In 2011 he founded the information center for international travelers with mobility impairment who wish to visit Japan.


Roberto Castiglioni

Member | Access to Air Travel Advisory Group , UK Civil Aviation Authority

In the last few years Roberto has worked with the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the European Commission on intelligence, policy and compliance. He frequently liaises with European National Enforcement Bodies.

He is the only independent access to air travel expert the European Commission invited to participate the meetings of European National Enforcement Bodies of 2015 and 2017.

Roberto has been a member of the UK CAA Access to Air Travel Advisory Group and the Easyjet Special Assistance Advisory Group (ESAAG) since 2012.

He chairs the Airport Experience working group of ESAAG, and also chaired the Ageing Population and PRMs track at Passenger Terminal CONFERENCE 2015, 2016, and 2017.

He also provides his consulting services to airlines, airports and PRM service providers to help them improve access to air travel for people with different abilities.

Tina Merk

Engineer, Zayed Higher Organization

After Architectural studies focusing on medical design in Germany, Tina works as an Engineer since 2013 at the Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs in Abu Dhabi, where she is responsible for collaboration in developing codes and regulations for accessibility in Abu Dhabi, site visits and furnishing standards with regard to accessibility and creating enabling environments, preliminary designs for new centres for Zayed Higher Organization, conceptual design and implementation planning, construction management, project finalization and handover.

She also used to be an advisor for accessibility design to Governmental Institutions, such as “Abu Dhabi International Building Code”, 2013; Abu Dhabi International Accessibility Standards Code”, 2013; “Transportation Accessibility Standards”.

Victor Pineda

President and Founder, Pineda Foundation / World Enabled

Dr. Victor Pineda is the President of World ENABLED, Chancellor’s Research Fellow, and a Senior Fellow at The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. He is a leading global expert on disability rights, policy, planning and design and has worked closely with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, World Bank, United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF, and cabinet level officials in the UAE, Qatar, Venezuela, and Serbia among others to develop policies and programs that include persons with disabilities as equal stakeholders in development.

Dr. Pineda is the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) innovative research grant, a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, the Thomas Jefferson Award, the Tom Clausen Fellowship for Business and Policy, and the Paul G. Hearne Award. Dr. Pineda holds a Ph.D. from the Luskin School for Public Affairs at the University of California at Los Angeles and a Master’s in City and Regional Planning, a B.A. in Political Economy, and a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley.

Mukhtar Al Shibani

President and Founder, GAATES

Mr. AlShibani is a Saudi Citizen with a master degree in Architecture from College of Architecture, King Saud University, Riyadh, KSA. Main topic was “Design Criteria for the Disabled in the Saudi Built Environment”.

Mr. AlShibani is the author of the first accessibility standard for persons with disabilities in the Arab World.

Mr. AlShibani is the president and founder of AlModon Engineering Consultancy, which was the first consulting office in the Arab World, specialized in Universal Design and Accessibility for persons with disability in the urban environment, since 1987.

Mr. AlShibani is one of the founders of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), the leading international organization dedicated to the promotion of accessibility of the built and virtual environments (2008).

Mr. AlShibani has been GAATES Vice-President and is currently in its second term as GAATES President. Under his office GAATES has established a network of Country Representatives in more than 40 countries, created the Global Accessibility News Service, a specialized accessibility news website with a weekly gazette reaching more than 20,000 subscriber worldwide.


Mohamed Soussan

Group General Manager, Ayla Grand Hotel

Once again Mr. Mohamed is privileged to be selected among the hotelier Middle East power 50 for 2016, ranked 45,  beco-founder for a new successful local Emirates hotel company - Ayla hotels & resorts management co. Al Ain, UAE

Mohammed Habash

Managing Director, Royability

Mohammed Habash is a researcher and a professional in the field of accessibility and assistive technology with a great passion for helping people with disabilities. Mohammed is currently the managing director of Royability, a Canadian educational and assistive technologies company based in Ottawa, Canada, specializing in localization and accessibility professional services for the Arab World. 

Mohammed specializes in the use of the emerging technologies to help improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families. He earned his Master’s degree in Computer Education from Arizona State University (USA) and his Ph.D. degree from Leeds Beckett University (UK) in the field of creative and virtual reality technologies for people with autism with focus on the development of solutions for communication and social skills development.

Mohammed’s research is focused on the design and delivery of affordable, culturally relevant solutions for people with disabilities, with specific focus on the localization of existing solutions and technologies through global partnerships. Mohammed is an active member of multiple nonprofit research and disability services organizations including INSAR (The International Society for Autism Research) and the US-based A Global Voice for Autism.

Tala I. Al Ramahi

Senior Associate, Crown Prince Court Abu Dhabi – Special Olympics Abu Dhabi 2019

Mona Noureldin Mohamed

Senior Urban & Recreation/Open Space Planning Specialist. , Ministry of Municipality and Environment

Mona Noureldin is strategic urban planner and urban designer specialized in open space, recreation and sports facilities planning with a broad-based, multi-disciplinary technical background. She has a wide experience in planning and implementation programs in wide variety of strategic developments across several planning scales. Graduated in 2006 in urban and regional planning and got diploma in sustainable urban planning from Cairo university.

Mona has more than 10 years of extensive experience and leadership in working with governmental institutions and consultation firms for Regional planning , Urban planning , urban and landscape design projects in Egypt, Qatar and other Gulf countries.

Mona joined  the consultation and governmental firm of Qatar National master plan (QNMP) with deep technical involvement in all QNMP main deliverables including the preparation and the implementation strategy of the Qatar National Development Framework (QNDF), the Municipality Spatial Development Plans(MSDPs) and the urban design of  several action area plans.

Recently she is the project Manager of Qatar National Open Space and Recreational Facilities strategy,  As QNMP/MME  strategic urban planner and  sports facilities planning specialist she is leading and technically coordinating the strategic urban planning input for several prestigious portfolios and projects such as hosting the World Cup 2022 and FIFA requirements for Competitive and Non-competitive projects, the public recreation and sport facilities master plan, the Qatar  Sports Venues Master Plan, Aspire Zone phases Master Plans.


Aileen Llagas

Architect, Fujairah Municipality

Aileen Llagas has been an architect and urban designer with local government office, engineering consultant & contractor. She spent most of her career years in UAE. She finished Bachelor of Science major in Architecture in Bulacan State University, Philippines. She has worked on designs of different projects in Fujairah. 

She is currently in-charge of Planning Services Division under the Urban Planning Section in Fujairah Municipality, with prime responsibility of approving infrastructure projects in the emirate.

Renate Baur-Richter

Program Manager, SEDRA Foundation

Renate Baur-Richter is a Program Manager at SEDRA Foundation she is responsible for identifying opportunities in the field and developing programs in line with SEDRA’s strategies.

She has a keen interest and expertise in empowering persons with disabilities through vocational training.   

She brings over 20 years of experience working in social and service sector as a corporate executive among others for a innovative social service provider and as a management consultant for contemporary social enterprises. Renate received her Masters in “Management of Social Enterprises” from Donau University in Krems, Austria. She is member of the board of advisors for the Integreatcenter in Dubai and is a Vocational and Educational Consultant for the UAE Down Syndrome Association Abu Dhabi.

David Banes

Director, David Banes Access and Inclusion Services

David Banes is Director of his company David Banes Access and Inclusion Services and was formerly CEO, at Mada the Qatar Assistive Technology and Accessibility Center based in Doha where he worked for six years. Throughout his career, he has been responsible for developing services to ensure that people with a disability are digitally included, and in shaping the broad policy framework required to ensure and sustain this.

As a Consultant addressing all aspects of access and inclusion through disability, he is currently working a range of issues the Middle East and Europe and has a special interest in how access will be ensured as technology and our understanding of disability shifts.

Much of his work is designed to build capacity in emerging access ecosystems, supporting an end to end approach from awareness to policy, and from production of assistive technologies to approaches to training and development.

Prior to taking up his post in Qatar, he worked as a teacher of children with special needs and principal of a major special school before working in the realm of digital Inclusion in the UK and Europe as Director of Operations and Development for a UK NGO.  He now seeks to support the emerging Access ecosystem in the region promoting cooperation between states and supports the development of assistive technology solutions and digital content that meet the needs of Arabic speaking people with a disability.

His recent work has focussed on the development of a framework for responding to disruptive innovation in the AT Industry, identify solutions t meeting the needs of refugees with a disability, consulting on the creation of a business case for public investment in assistive technology and supporting innovation and research to bring products and services to market.

Iftikhar Hamdani

Cluster General Manager, Ramada Hotels

Iftikhar Hamdani is currently working as Cluster General Manager to lead three Wyndham Hotels in Ajman.  Hamdani is also currently engaged with his hotel group expansion and working as VP Development and Acquisition of R Hotels.  Hamdani carries 22 years hospitality experience in different hospitality brands in different positions.

He has revolutionised the hospitality industry over the years with his commitment to carry projects on environment, community and charity work.  Known as the initiator of green programmes in the emirate of Ajman, he has definitely made his mark to engage hoteliers in CSR over the past couple of years.  He is known for his notable ground-breaking environment initiatives like launching Zero Landfill Project in 2012 – a waste management system of the property and Urban Farming in his hotel.

With the leadership and hard work in spearheading the various charity projects, green initiatives and empowerment of team, Iftikhar Hamdani was recognized as the “Brand Ambassador of Wyndham Hotel Group in year 2012” which signifies Wyndham Hotel Group’s appreciation of all the efforts he did for the environment and society.  Hamdani has also been recognized as a “Highly Commended CSR Champion 2013” by the Hotelier Middle East.  Hamdani received the “Alleem Sustainable Development Excellence Awards 2014” a recognition for his sustainable initiatives towards the environment. Two consecutive years, Hamdani has been bagged the Hospitality Excellence Award - CSR Champion of the Year 2015” and “General Manager of the Year 2016” by the  Recently, Hamdani received the “Wyndham Hotel Group EMEA President’s Award for CSR 2016”.

Rita Farha El-Haddad

Director of Quality Assurance, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM)

Elena C. Cruz

Vice President, Head - Brand Management & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Emirates NBD

With over 20 years’ experience in brand and social impact, Elena Cruz has been the driver of CSR and Sustainability in Emirates NBD.  As Vice President of Brand Management and Corporate Social Responsibility, Elena has embedded CSR into the bank’s corporate identity, culture and business activity and transitioned it from ad-hoc charitable activities to Creating Shared Values (CSV) in less than two years.

With financial literacy and advocating for people with disabilities as the bank’s main focus areas, her CSR team has been working hand-in-hand with multi stakeholders including all bank departments, NGOs, and governmental organizations to innovate and present new services and products in line with our CSV model.