CAIRO: An Egyptian cafe for deaf and mute people is quietly showing all the signs of success.
Staff and customers at Wadi El-Nile coffee shop, in the Upper Egyptian city of Qena, use sign language to communicate and place orders.
Printed guides are on every table showing how to sign simple words and phrases to help visitors, whether or not they are deaf-mute.
And activities in the cafe are no different than in any other coffee house, with customers playing backgammon and dominos, enjoying hot and cold drinks, and smoking shisha.
Wadi El-Nile’s owner, Mustafa Khairat, said that the success of his establishment had proved that deaf people could be integrated into society.
“I had hope and faith in achieving the dream of owning a coffee shop specialized in hosting the deaf and mute and where the staff would be deaf and mute as well. They would communicate with customers using sign language, and that is what happened,” he added.
“Deaf people represent a huge segment in Egypt. They used to meet in several coffee shops in Qena governorate but when this one opened with deaf as well as other people attending, it turned into a destination for the deaf from other cities and villages. They meet here and they feel it is their home,” said Khairat.
“We printed papers with sign language as a guide and put them on every table. They have simple sign language signs written in letters to help customers if they are finding it difficult communicating with a waiter or other deaf and mute customers.”
Statistics issued by the UN in 2019, showed the number of deaf and mute people in Egypt to be around 7.5 million out of a population of 100 million, and coffee shops to cater for them have sprung up throughout the country.
In the city of Alexandria, Rady’s cafe in the neighborhood of Mansheya, is better known to Alexandrians as the mute’s coffee shop. The Brotherly Association for the Deaf, which is located in the same area, holds regular meetings there.
And last year, Mohamed Arafat opened his Candy restaurant in Cairo, which employs a number of deaf-mute staff.