(From left) Zaid Jaffery, Anjali Kakar and Victor Sitali, all adults with special needs and members of art studio Mawaheb, display their ‘creations’ Image Credit: © XPRESS / Ahmed Ramzan

Dubai: Anjali Kakar could barely hide her excitement as she flattened the dough, spread tomato-basil sauce on it and topped it with cut vegetables.

"This is the first time I am making a pizza. I can't wait for my mum, dad, brother and sister-in-law to eat it," she said, adjusting her chef's cap with gloved hands.

A 25-year-old slow learner Kakar was among 10 other special needs adults from the art studio Mawaheb (Beautiful People) participating in a cooking club organised by the Arabian Courtyard Hotel in Bur Dubai recently.

Overcoming limitations

Aged between 19 and 27, those in the group have a range of limitations, including slow learning, speech and hearing impairments and Williams and West Syndrome.

But none of that seemed to matter as they keenly followed instructions to create their own pizzas.

Pizza-making is only the first of a series of activities that the monthly cooking clubs at the hotel will teach the group, said Wemmy de Maaker of Mawaheb.

"We launched the art studio three weeks ago as the next step for young adults after they finish school," said Wemmy, adding that the idea is to teach them not just art skills but also life skills that could help integrate them into mainstream society.

She said Mawaheb - located at Villa 28 in Bastakiya - plans to open a café which special needs adults will be trained to run. "Initially, we will serve only coffee, tea and some cakes," she said, hoping that the current training will also come in handy with time.

For those like 27-year-old Zaid Jaffrey, the club was his first ever experience at cooking. A slow learner, he said, "I always eat pizza at Pizza Hut in Sharjah. Now I can make my own."

Victor Sitali from Zambia, who can neither hear nor talk, scribbled on a note pad that he was good at making sandwiches and presenting them. Creating pizzas is now an additional skill, he said.