UAE, November 12, 2017- H.H. Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum honored the ‘Innovative Emirati Programmer’ winners of the ‘Hackathon’ competition organized by the Emirates Talent Association and Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU). The recognition marked the culmination of the successful first batch of the ‘Emirati Programmer,’ the first-of-its-kind national initiative in the UAE launched to enhance the skills of Emirati programmers in programming languages, computer thinking systems, the basics of digital application and electronic games development.
The closing ceremony held at HBMSU’s campus saw world-class young Emirati talents and innovators recognized for their competitive programming abilities. Dignitaries attended the event were headed by H.E. Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai, Chairman of HBMSU’s Board of Governors, and Chairman of the Emirates Talent Association, H.E. Hussain Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, H.E. Humaid Al Qutami, Chairman of the Board and Director General of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Majid Hamad Rahma Al Shamsi, member of the National Federation Council and Chairman of Union Coop’s board of directors and HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). Attendees applauded the ‘Emirati Programmer’ initiative for laying a solid foundation for human capital development and investing in the country’s human resources to build a future generation capable of driving economic growth driven by modern technology, knowledge, and innovation in line with UAE Vision 2021.
An international jury chose the winners based onset criteria, including the ability to link the creative programming projects to national policies and initiatives such as adopting a competitive and knowledge- and innovation-driven economy.
The four winners of the ‘Innovative Emirati Programmer’ title bagged the Golden Award in four categories. They were Hamdan Al Maqoodi, ‘Developing Game – Kudo Category’ for age group 7-10; Saud Ahmed Al Hosani, ‘Developing Game – Kudo Category’ for age group 11- 15; Shaikha Khalid Al Ali, ‘Developing App – Bloxmob Category’ for age group 7-10; and Saif Adnan Al Marri, ‘Developing App – Swift Category’ forage group 11-15. The four were among the 12 finalists of the ‘Hackathon’ competition, which served as a platform to put the spotlight on the global programming talents.
H.E. Tamim said: “We are proud to honor young talents with enormous creative potentials who have shown thirst for knowledge and strong interest to be part of the development process for a more advanced and prosperous future. Furthermore, the ‘Emirati Programmer’ has pushed young people to be creators of a bright future for all using their talents and achieve the highest international ranks. This success has further inspired us to excel in preparing a generation of qualified, innovative, and creative local and international young programmers. ”
“The strong partnership between the Emirates Talent Association and HBMSU has been recognized as a model for constructive cooperation among national entities for youth development. It is also aligned with what H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has said, ‘The youth is the future and hope of our country.’ We are undoubtedly taking proactive steps to provide the world of programming with creative talents who have confidence, knowledge, determination, and leadership to guide the economy towards the highest levels of innovation and creativity,” H.E. added.
Aside from the Gold Award, Silver and Bronze Awards were also given across the four categories. The international judges comprised technology professionals led by Lewis Hall, English as Medium of Instruction (EMI) Manager, Apple Distinguished Educator; Rayan Karaky, Head of DoubleClick MENA & Turkey, Google; Ahmed Ebrahim, Microsoft Gulf Teacher Engagements Manager; and Hanan Hasan, Head of Technology Development at Al Ittihad National Private School in Abu Dhabi, Apple Distinguished Educator.
Hall said: “As a jury member, it is an honor to witness the creativity and innovative skills of young Emirati talents, who have exhibited strong potentials in programming. I am glad to see their eagerness to develop applications relevant to local society and have the potentials to address future challenges. We are also confident that the ‘Emirati Programmer’ initiative was a step in the right direction to build a generation capable and qualified to develop applications supporting the progress of the UAE and the rest of the world.”
Karaky thanked the Emirates Talent Association and HBMSU for the opportunity to be one of the judges. He said: “It is inspiring to see the youth using their imagination combined with their capabilities to master programming languages, which play a major role in the modern era. We are looking forward to seeing more talented Emirati entrepreneurs, application developers, and programmers in the future. Allow me also to announce that we are turning Shaikha’s proposal into a reality by putting her application in our application store. Additionally, I will continuously follow the projects and innovations of other promising talents to instill creativity and innovation in the UAE.”
After the ceremony, the winners presented their applications and projects at the ‘Coding Expo.’
The winners in the ‘Developing App – Bloxmob’ (7 to 10 years old) category are Shaikha Khalid Al Ali - Diabetes Learning Bag (Gold); Sarah Saeed Al Awar - Read-ester (Silver); and Wid Hamad Al Awar - Slime Angle (Bronze); and in the ‘Developing App – Swift’ (11 to 15 years old), Saif Adnan Al Marri - Discount Me IN (Gold); Abdulla Al Jawi- Discover Dubai (Silver); and Mohammed Alowais - Family Hub (Bronze).
The victors in the ‘Developing App – Swift’ (7 to 10 years old) are Hamadan Al Maqoodi - Road Kill (Gold); Zayed Saif Al Zaabi - Death Road (Silver); and Ali Saif Al Zaabi - Save Water Save Life (Bronze); while Saud Al Hosani - Star Fires (Gold); Hind Saad Abbas - Mars Rock On (Silver); Fahad Al Awadi - Dodge and Race (Bronze) won in ‘Developing Game – Kudo’ (11 and 15 years old) category.
Student Shaikha Khalid Al Ali, Gold Winner of ‘Bloxmob’ for 7 to 10 years old, expressed her happiness for being part of the successful competition. She added that the ‘Emirati Programmer’ initiative provided her with a unique opportunity to acquire key programming and smart application development skills which she used to create her simple and streamlined Diabetes Learning Bag app. She also thanked the Emirates Talent Association, HBMSU, and event organizers for supporting her in achieving her ambition and turning her idea into a concrete application.
About 96 graduates comprised the first batch of the ‘Emirati Programmer’ initiative, 46 of whom qualified for the semi-finals and 12 reached the finals. The participants received high-level training under the direct supervision of renowned instructors who specialize in the three-level ‘Lifelong learning model.’ The training ensured that the local contestants would excel in the “Hackathon” competition. The ‘Emirati Programmer’ focused on providing talented youth with new knowledge and skills in computer language programming to design games and digital and electronic applications using multiple programming platforms such as Microsoft's KODU Game Lab, Apple's Swift, Google's Blockly, and ‘Cloud Campus.’