ABU DHABI // Budding entrepreneurs have swapped lessons for the real world and are putting their business skills to the test in the capital.
About 200 pupils and students from schools and universities across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region have set up about 100 stalls in Marina Mall for four days as part of the Young Entrepreneur Competition.
Organised by Dubai SME - the agency of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, which develops the small and medium enterprise sector - the annual competition has been expanded to Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah for the first time this year.
The event gives 15 to 25-year-olds the chance to try out their entrepreneurial ideas in the real world.
Students began trading from 10am to 10pm in Marina Mall on Wednesday and will continue until the closing time tomorrow.
Emirati Saeed Al Hameli was manning a kiosk selling solar lights incorporated into traditional designs. "The competition is a good idea because it shows how students think and it gives them a chance to create things," said the 23-year-old Higher Colleges of Technology engineering student.
Mohamed Mahmoud, 22, also Emirati, was at a stall selling gifts for children and adults, with items including balloons, dolls, toys and watches. "It's a good experience because it helps me to be a businessman," said Mr Mahmoud, a UAE University student.
Nouf Al Kaabi, 17, a photographer, was putting her hobby to use by taking pictures of people, who could have the images altered using a graphics editing program before buying, if they wished. Nouf said she and a friend made Dh2,000 by yesterday morning since opening for business on Wednesday.
"What's special about the competition is that they are having real customers, not only their friends, so they understand the market," said Yousuf Lootah, communication team leader for the competition.
The contest is held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Dubai's Executive Council.
The event moves to Al Hamra Mall in Ras Al Khaimah from April 10 to 13 for entrants from Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, while those from Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman will be at Wafi in Dubai, from April 17 to 20. The winners will be honoured by Dubai SME.