The UAE Ministry of Education announced the launch of the National Science, Technology and Innovation (NSTI) Festival that will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and take place at the Dubai Festival Arena from 15-19 February 2018. The Festival will be held as part of the UAE Innovation Month, which will run from 1- 28 February 2018.
The UAE Minister of Education H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi revealed that the event has taken a new trajectory towards involving the entire community with the addition of the all-new Family Festival that complements the recurring exciting elements to promote science, innovation, technology and scientific research in an edutaining family-friendly environment. The NSTI Festival 2018 will also witness the launch of the first-of-its-kind Industrial Revolution X (IR-X) Program developed in partnership with a prominent international partner.
The NSTI Festival 2018 will combine an array of family activities, outstanding student projects with a varied scientific program through which it will welcome renowned international leaders in the technology and innovation fields to the UAE.
H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi stated the Ministry has created several initiatives that aim to spark the interest of UAE nationals in science, technology and innovation. The NSTI Festival is considered one of the most significant events organized by the Ministry as it plays a central role in endorsing the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy adopted by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.
“In addition, the NSTI Festival contributes to the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in positioning the UAE amongst the most innovative countries in the world with brilliant human capital and advanced scientific research capabilities and infrastructure,” continued H.E. Al Hammadi. “This year, following the feedback from the first edition of the event, we are launching a series of initiatives that will contribute to demonstrating to children and families that science and careers in scientific entrepreneurship have a bright future in the UAE.”
The outdoor Family Festival includes an Arts, Eats, Beats, Makes and Reads elements that offer adventurous activities, workshops and shows specifically designed to unleash creativity, curiosity and love of exploration among visitors of all ages. With all it offers from live music, to art projects and delicious food from popular restaurants and food truck chains, the Family Festival will be a family-friendly destination with an edutaining environment that nurtures UAE youths’ talents.
The comprehensive IR-X 2018 Program set to launch at the Festival will be a gateway to UAE higher education students to undergo a world-class journey designed to equip UAE nationals with the knowledge, skills and hands-on expertise in artificial intelligence as well as other 4th industrial revolution disciplines to launch their own start-ups and project portfolios. The IR-X program activities at the event will include the Design Thinking program.
Commenting on the NSTI Festival, Dr. Amna AlDahak AlShamsi, Assistant Undersecretary Activities sector and Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department at the Ministry of Education said “We are delighted to organize the NSTI Festival 2018 that reiterates our contribution towards the Centennial Plan 2071 launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. We are committed to fostering a bright generation of Emiratis that are passionate about science, technology, innovation and research and have the right tools and mindset to lead the change towards a competitive knowledge based economy.”
The NSTI Festival 2018 will consist of the Science Fair (section for students to showcase their projects), Conference (prominent international and Emirati speakers to discuss interesting topics related to education and STI), Exhibition (section for educational entities, established innovative companies and start-ups to showcase their products and services), Student Retreat (elite Emirati students come together to discuss challenges, aspirations and expectations from the educational system), Hackathon (competition for computer programmers and software developers), and Fikrati (‘my idea’ is a platform for students in kindergarten to grade 5 to express their creative ideas) competition and Awards Ceremony (main awarding platform organized by the Ministry).
One of the focal points of the NSTI Festival will be the Awards Ceremony, particularly the UAE Young Scientist Award which will be awarded to only one outstanding project that demonstrates a remarkable innovative idea and impresses the panel of experts at the Science Fair. The Ministry of Education will also be awarding winners with projects that fall under four core fields; technology, social and behavioral sciences, biological and ecological sciences, and chemical, physical and mathematical sciences. In addition, other award categories that are aligned with the UAE National Innovation Strategy will be open for students to compete in and submit their projects. At this edition, the Ministry of Education is looking to highlight the fundamental role of scientific research in any phenomena whether theoretical or practical and offer them the opportunity to present their research findings to audiences.
AlShamsi added, “Our event has evolved with the years and come a long way to reach this enormous festival. We first launched the initiative in 2015 as ‘Abtakir’ exhibition in Dubai and with the popularity it gained, we organized a series of ‘Abtakir’ exhibitions in 2016 across other emirates. In 2016, we re-introduced the initiative as the ‘National Innovation Exhibition’ and now we have given it an all-new festive element for the NSTI Festival 2018. We are hoping the event contributes to changing mindsets and inspiring participants to take a leap of faith in an idea or theory they truly believe in. Success doesn’t come easily, we need to emphasize to students that failure is part of the learning process and perseverance is a key factor to success. As UAE nationals, we are fortunate to have a strategic governmental direction that supports and embraces the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and it’s our responsibility to steer it towards reaching new global heights in the science, technology, innovation, and research fields.”
The 2016 National Innovation Exhibition (NIE) was held in conjunction with the UAE Innovation Week and witnessed the participation of 135 students who displayed a total of 55 innovative projects at the Science Fair and 11 students were recognized during the awards ceremony. A total of 90 students took part at the Student Retreat and were honoured by the visit of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chairman of the Education and Human Resources Council, H.E. Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, H.E. Dr. Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, H.E. Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, H.E. Ohoud Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, H.E. Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Head of Dubai Police, and Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice President of Khalifa University, along with many other officials.
The accompanying conference to the 2016 NIE hosted prominent speakers the likes of Bertrand Piccard Chairman of Solar Impulse, Sunny Washington CEO of the Edtech company Ardusat, Joachim Horn Founder of London-based start-up SAM Labs, Muhammed Mekki Founding Partner at AstroLabs, Ahmed Saeed Sulaiman Al Mazroei Owner of Ahmed Almazroei Industries and many more.