Mawaheb From Beautiful People helps people with special needs discover their inner artist and let their art guide them on life's journey.There are many art galleries and studios located in the restored traditional wind-tower houses of the Bastakiya area in Dubai. Tucked away in a quiet corner of this vibrant art quarter is a special art studio, called Mawaheb From Beautiful People. Step inside and you will see many young artists working intently at their easels. The courtyard and rooms are decorated with their beautiful creations, which include paintings and decorative pots and mirrors. What makes this studio special is that all the artists here are people with special needs."Mawaheb is the Arabic word for talent and this studio is a place where young adults with special needs can discover their talent and showcase it to the world. But this studio is not just about creating artworks. We are using art as a medium to teach them life skills, to help them develop self-confidence and become independent. So while the artists are working on their artworks, these artworks are shaping them," says Wemmy de Maaker, founder of the studio.De Maaker has more than 15 years of experience working with people with special needs in the Netherlands. When she moved to Dubai nine years ago, she found that the options for young adults with special needs were very limited. "Children with special needs grow up in the sheltered environment of special schools and protective parents. When they go out to work, they feel diffident and isolated. Besides, job opportunities for them are quite limited here, and often they have nothing to do after completing school, which leads to depression, loss of confidence and other problems. I wanted to create a space where they could be involved in constructive activity and discover their potential, while learning life skills that would help them integrate with society," she says.De Maaker collaborated with Dutch company Beautiful People to develop the project. They began by organising an art exhibition of paintings by people with special needs from the Netherlands and the UAE, which helped create awareness about their abilities and potential. "People were surprised and impressed by the artworks. And we were fortunate to get the support of Princess Haya [Bint Al Hussain, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai], who arranged this venue for us. Being in the bustling Bastakiya area is a dream come true for me because my main aim is to break down the barriers between society and people with special needs. Here, visitors are constantly walking in through our door. So, instead of our artists going out into the world, the world comes to them, and they can interact with society while being in a safe environment," De Maaker says.