DUBAI // A store owner with severe hearing loss created a short video to pierce the silence that surrounds him.
‘Come to my shop,’ signs Javed Latif with easily understood gestures while standing in front of men’s garments he has designed.
Sending the video to the Community Development Authority’s Sanad Relay centre and posting it on deaf community sites has helped him reach the hearing impaired clientele and he intends to strike further.
“Problem, I can’t talk, hear. I send video; now I have customers (who) cannot speak, hear,” Mr Latif scribbled in English on numerous notes in his small shop in Meena Bazaar.
“(In) Video I say, ‘Come to Javed.’ I can help.”
With basic hand gestures and notes he communicated his story through shop assistant Salim Ahmed.
When he arrived in Dubai in 2000, he brought readymade garments from India for sale and couriered material from the UAE. He set up his store ‘Javed’ two years ago.
Despite poor sales forcing him to send his wife back home, Mr Latif remains positive business will pick up.
“I love Dubai too much, Dubai is good for business because people from different countries are here,” he signs to Omer Ibrahim Osman, a sign language interpreter with the CDA who interprets his gestures on a video call.
Sanad makes him “feel comfortable,” the interpreter says.
When the signal drops due to poor reception, Mr Latif patiently records a video with his query, posts this to the Sanad interpreter who replies with a video post.
Word of mouth helped build a base of regular clients such as Ahmed Jamal, a senior relationship officer with a real estate firm.
Dropping into the store, to pick up waistcoats and a suit, he points to Mr Latif’s label.
A large handwritten swirl denoting his name, the ‘Javed’ label is sewn on to garments tailored at the store from suits, heavily embroidered kanduras to shirts and trousers.
“This is his signature label, I like that he is a creative guy, he is not sitting at home and doing nothing. His quality is very good, he will get any fabric for you so it’s natural to come to him,” Mr Jamal said.
“It’s also important that he is independent so we should support him.”
Mr Latif has tailored Mr Jamal’s wedding suit, office and evening wear.
“We use Whatsapp and I explain in detail what I need, send him photos, then his assistants take my measurements,” Mr Jamal explained.
A new customer Ayaaz Mohammed, an assistant chef from a five-star hotel, walks in to the store.
After selecting grey fabric for a suit, he watches Mr Latif sketch a design he has chosen incorporating specific designs for the pocket and collar following quick explanations from the shop assistants.
“If his assistants were not here it would be tough to tell him what I wanted,” Mr Mohammed said.
“But it’s great he has the confidence to run his own business.”