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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Young Emirati entrepreneurs show they mean business at Dubai Startup Challenge

UAE youth show they are ready to lead the way with their innovative, high-tech solutions to everyday problems

Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister for Artificial Intelligence, speaking during the du Emirati Startup Challenge held at Zayed University in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National 
Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister for Artificial Intelligence, speaking during the du Emirati Startup Challenge held at Zayed University in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National 

Young Emirati entrepreneurs showcased innovative solutions and smartphone applications at today's du Emirati Startup Challenge in Dubai, providing a snapshot of the different ways they are striving to provide high-tech solutions to modern challenges.

Eighteen Emirati entrepreneurs shared their business plans in front of a judging panel and a large audience to win money and a chance to work with a local business mentor.

Mr Khalid Al Awar, 22, who quit his job to pursue his ideas, won first prize in the startup challenge for developing Mabany, an integrated online system that eases communication between tenants and facility management companies.

Mabany is a cloud-based management software that connects facility managers with tenants through a friendly user experience. Through Mabany’s mobile application, a tenant can submit a request to the facility management company stating their preferred time and even attach photos. The company receives the tenant request on their dashboard and assigns the job to one of their technicians.

Through the app, residents can provide their feedback about the service. Also, the online system provides several benefits, including cutting down cost, automate the process, improve efficiency and get insightful data.

Mr Al Awar impressed judges at the startup challenge and won Dh25,000 in the challenge.

Amna Al Ghaithi, an Emirati entrepreneur, was announced as the second winner for developing Emit. Emit is an app that helps people get whatever they want and whenever they want, sending drivers to collect or send items to and from customers.

Al Ghaithi said the service uses motorbikes to deliver the items, which is "faster and easier.” He won Dh15,000.

Two people were chosen by the judges for third place, both winning Dh10,000. Maryam Belhoul, the developer of Fursah social enterprise for social growth and Faisal Al Hawi for his Drive Less app.

“Fursah is a business geared at connecting people interested in volunteering with non-governmental organisations,” said Ms Belhoul, 22.

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“It’s an online platform that matches you with perfect volunteering opportunities based on skills and time preference. There is a social media aspect to it where you get to post about the volunteering experience and the entity involved.”

“I am passionate about volunteering and I found difficulties finding opportunities online. Therefore, Forsa came to mind,” said Ms Belhoul, adding that she is targeting humanitarian volunteering.

Mr Al Hawi said: “Drive Less is a smart app for an individual to plan their day based on traffic for a safer and less-stressed commute. It connects typical planner apps and navigation apps with human experience for better results on predicting traffic."

The Emirati startup challenge was launched by Du in partnership with Zayed University.

“It was a hard process to choose winners. Most of today’s innovation is linked to apps and artificial intelligence. Seeing the passion and drive from entrepreneurs is quite exciting to see,” said Mr Khalfan Belhoul, CEO at Dubai Future Foundation and one of the judges in today’s panel.