6 Tatawwar winners announced during online awards ceremony

May 19, 2020

DUBAI — Tatawwar: Building Tomorrow’s Minds, from HSBC and, have announced the winners of the 2019 /2020 program rollout at a live-streamed final awards event. First prize was awarded to Bader Al Sarraf from Bahrain for his ‘Solar Panel CO2 Converter’ project that produces green energy while also reducing CO2 in the air.

The remaining 5 winners who come from UAE, Oman and Egypt are: Marah Abdehaq — Proteria natural protein supplement, Joel Jiji Olassayil — Accel Agro for faster plant growth, Iman Al Farsi — Project R3D for efficient desalination, Rishabh Java — Broccoli Brains a wearable and app for ADHD treatment, Suhaila Elmetwalli — Bio-purifier an affordable natural water filter.

Nine distinguished judges listened to 1-minute pitches from the finalists and reviewed their prototypes and business models. The judges representing Texas A&M, Nottingham Trent University, British University in Dubai, Al Tamimi & Company, AW Rostamani Group, German University Technology in Oman, Cairo American College, AJM Kooheji Group and the Ministry of Education in the UAE provided diverse perspectives when evaluating the finalists’ projects.

“It’s been another fantastic year for the Tatawwar program where we’ve seen many bright ideas come to life. The students have been able to access numerous resources to help sharpen their future skills and have a real taste of what it means to build a business with social and environment impact,” said Dan Howlett, HSBC’s Regional Head of Commercial Banking, Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

“We are very pleased that we were able to substantially increase the number of students this year which made it a lot more competitive for the students and allowed them to be innovative and think outside of the box. Congratulations to all the finalists for getting this far and we wish them all the best on their future endeavors,” he added.

This year’s edition of Tatawwar: Building Tomorrow’s Minds has seen a total of 4,650 students from over 1,000 schools across the Middle East and North Africa region, register in the blended learning program.

The Tatawwar team hosted 12 prototyping workshops for the shortlisted 165 students in each of the program’s countries in January and February. It was followed by online mentoring to help them develop their prototype and business models before choosing the top 20.

The top 20 who competed in the finals included 2 students from Algeria, 2 from Bahrain, 4 from Egypt, 2 from Kuwait, 1 from Oman, 3 from Qatar, and 6 from the UAE. Over the past weeks, they went through an acceleration program that included twice-weekly webinars to help project owners fine tune their pitching skills, and learn key business skills including financial projections, raising funding, future career fitness, technology trends and marketing.

Each webinar brought together international experts on each of these topics to help the students. In addition, each of the top 20 students were provided with four one-on-one coaching sessions and will get a one-year free membership to their local fablabs, where they can continue to develop their prototypes.

Sabrin Rahman, regional head of corporate sustainability at HSBC, Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, said, “Tatawaar has put the students at the center of the self-directed learning — with a wider ecosystem created to support them to flourish which includes mentors and industry experts. This model has been heavily tested with current school closures.

“The only way to ensure long term success in the face of uncertainty is to embed individual accountability and to develop civic responsibility within our next generation. We are so proud of how the students have risen to the challenge and believe blended learning has a bright future.”

The top six winners’ prototypes will be showcased at the HSBC sponsored UK Pavilion at Expo 2021 Dubai and will also receive $12,000 in cash prizes. They will also be supported to crowdfund their projects and develop them further.

Shadi Banna, CEO of, said “We are delighted that this blended learning program delivered on its goal of identifying very talented individuals and supporting them to hone in essential practical skills, while also empowering nearly 5000 students through online learning, resources and tools to help them succeed.”

Tatawwar: Building Tomorrow’s Minds is an interactive online and face-to-face program that brings together students aged 15 to 18, schools, parents and the business community to innovate for a sustainable future by addressing one of three United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: Climate Action; Human Health and Well-being and Clean Water and Sanitation.

Two of the Tatawwar previous winners, Samah Abdullah from Egypt and Zoya Naeem from the UAE, have come up with innovative solutions to address the water scarcity challenge and crowdfunded their projects. Samah has developed and just released her first WMS App, which is now available for download on the Google Play store.

The next rollout of the Tatawwar program will commence in mid-September 2020. — SG

May 19, 2020
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