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Abeer Amiri, Mohammad Alseiari and Kamleh Khatib, developers of buddy platform for people with special needs, Rab3i Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi

A communication device for people with motor deficits, a buddy system to help people of determination get around, and an application that helps people with hearing impairment speak through sign language - these are some of the winning projects at the capital’s first Social Incubator programme.

The projects, which will receive a total of Dh4.4 million for development, will be honed over the next four months by experts at the Authority for Social Contribution - Ma’an, with the aim of turning them into businesses ready for registration.

“In this first Social Incubator cycle, our aim was to make lives easier for people of determination. We received 131 proposals from around the world, and these 10 projects are so promising that we hope they will all be ready to be rolled out after the incubation period,” Salama Al Ameemi, director general at Ma’an, told Gulf News on Wednesday.

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Khamis and Mohammad Aboelazm aim to develop sign language-based messaging application Image Credit: Supplied

Six of the winning projects were developed locally, while four others are by developers from outside the UAE, including Brazil, Denmark and India. Each will receive upto Dh200,000 for development, including business expertise, office space, and access to possible investors. When completed, all of the projects will be implemented in Abu Dhabi.

“These social start-ups will contribute towards establishing sustainable social solutions for people of determination, thus raising the standard of living in the UAE and perhaps even globally,” Al Ameemi said.

Among the winning initiatives was Rab3i, a service that aims to pair people of determination with ‘buddies’.

“We do not see enough people of determination in public spaces, and one reason could be because they do not have companions to ‘hang out with’. So through our platform, we aim to create links, even friendships, between people with special needs and regular residents,” said Kamleh Khatib, an educational officer and co-developer of Rab3i, told Gulf News. She is working to develop the platform with Abeer Amiri, Abdulla Alseiari and Omar Dhiyebi.

Egyptian expats Mohammad Aboelazm, Iman Khamis and Mina Sadik, on the other hand, are developing a sign-language based messaging application.

“The hearing-impaired prefer to communicate through sign language than text, and we want to make interaction easier for them,” Khamis said.

Ma’an, which comes under the purview of the Department of Community Development, will launch its second cycle in November, with the aim of tackling another set of social issues.

“Little by little, we hope to tackle a range of social challenges through the contributions of the third sector, comprised of non-governmental, non-profit-making institutions,” Al Ameemi said.