UAE university students to help Nokia regain crown


Nokia used to be the mobile phone maker king. Now it is hoping to regain its crown with the help of UAE university students. 

Almost 200 students from eight of the top universities in the UAE took part in the Nokia University App Challenge. Courtesy: Nokia


Once upon a time, long before the advent on mobile phone applications, Nokia made the world's most popular handsets.

Those days have changed, but the Finnish mobile phone maker is staging a comeback and drafted in university students in the UAE to help. 

Nokia invited students across the country to take part in a competition to design apps for its online store.

 "We designed this competition to maximise the learning process of this entrepreneurial journey - that is, how to go from an abstract idea to a fully-developed app available to millions of consumers worldwide," said Praveen Prabhakaran, head of ecosystem and developer experience at Nokia Middle East.

Almost 200 students from eight universities took part in the competition, which was won by Nabeel Kassim and Zulqarnain Mehdi, from American University of Sharjah and Troy University.

The pair created BonAppetit, an app which lets users search for restaurants in the UAE by location and cuisine, enabling them to contact them directly.

They received a $5,000 prize, a trip to Finland to visit the Nokia Research Center and an internship at Nokia UAE.

Second and third place were claimed by iMonitor, which sends parents warning messages when their children go above driving speed limits and Make-a-Meme, that lets users create memes, which are pictures with funny messages, from a searchable list of over 150 images which can be shared on social networks. They received $3,000 and $2,000 respectively, as well as an N9 smartphone.

Universities received technical training and coding sessions with Nokia software experts, while 40 Nokia smartphones were distributed to help students with their ideas.

Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani, an Indian engineering college based in International Academic City in Dubai, saw the highest number of submissions from students, as well as the most teams ranked within the top 10 finalists.

The judging panel included Tom Farrell, vice president of Nokia Middle East, Abed Agha, developer of the Arab Idol app and Tom Shambler, editor of Stuff magazine.

All apps developed during the competition will eventually be available on the Nokia Store. 

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