April 2nd marked the 8th annual World Autism Day raising awareness for the developmental disorder that affects 1 out of 88 children around the world. Boys are 4 to 5 times more likely to suffer from the incurable condition that affects their verbal and social skills, inhibiting their ability to communicate effectively.
In Dubai, Autism Awareness Month began with an Autism Rocks Festival on April 1st featuring American rappers Flo Rida and Tyga performing live. The DJs were BFG and Fever. Other past performers such as Lenny Kravitz, Drake and the late Prince have all participated in live concert and the charity aimed at raising awareness and donations for much needed research. Other fun-filled attractions include: laser tag, zip-line, crazy golf, bouncy house, face painting, rodeo bull, horse rides, and a petting zoo. There’s plenty of food and barbecue. The event is held in partnership with 117 Live, a subsidiary of Ahli Holding.
Founded in 2014, Autism Rocks was created by Usha and Sanjay Shah Denmark from Dubai; loving, devoted parents to their own autistic son, Nikhil. They hope to educate people and want more research to help understand what’s causing autism and what can be done about it. In the UAE there’s growing awareness because the number of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased. There’s improved diagnosis but a lack of resources for continued care. Specialists stress the importance of early intervention, giving a better outcome for autistic children.
Sanjay Shah a hedge fund manager, is the founder, CEO and owner of Aesa S.a.r.l. which controls Solo Group Holdings, which controls Solo Capital Partners. Shah owns over three dozen other companies across London, Dubai, The British Virgin Islands, Luxembourg, Malta and The Cayman Islands. Sanjay studied medicine before realizing he was more suited for the financial and investment industry, working as an accountant for firms such as Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. The 2009 financial crisis led him to start up his own brokerage company, Solo Capital.
Sanjay loved Dubai so much, in 2009 he decided to move there. His friend, Dany Neville introduced him to the famous rapper Snoop Dog, who also has a home in Dubai. His influence sparked the idea within Sanjay for Autism Rocks. Snoop Dog convinced Prince, Kravitz and others to participate… the rest is history and an annual Autism Rocks was born!
Find out more about Sanjay Shah: