The Rolex Awards for Enterprise in the Middle East and North Africa

Published May 13th, 2008 - 11:15 GMT

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise in the Middle East and North Africa
Fact Sheet

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise aim to encourage a spirit of enterprise in visionary individuals around the globe by providing the financial support and recognition they need to implement innovative, working projects that advance human knowledge and well-being.

Rolex established the Awards in 1976 to mark the 50th anniversary of its greatest innovation, the Oyster chronometer, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch. The programme reflects the company’s long-held commitment to individual excellence and its tradition of supporting talent and achievement. Now held every two years, the Awards have been presented on 12 occasions.

The Awards, one of the world’s most respected philanthropic programmes, are coming to the Middle East for the first time in their 32-year history, under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Traditionally held in world capitals, including New York, Tokyo, Paris and Singapore, and in Geneva, home to Rolex, the international prize-giving ceremony for the 13th Awards series will take place on November 18, 2008, at the Madinat Jumeirah resort in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Award Areas
The five key areas of recognition are:
Science and Medicine – projects in the natural or physical sciences that contribute to human health and welfare
Technology and Innovation – inventions, new devices or processes in the applied sciences that contribute significantly to the world
Exploration and Discovery – expeditions, journeys or ventures that inspire our imagination and expand our knowledge of the world
The Environment – projects that protect, preserve or improve our natural and physical surroundings
Cultural Heritage – projects that conserve, safeguard or contribute to our historical, cultural or artistic heritage.
However, a project may be submitted in almost any field of endeavour, provided it contributes to the betterment of humankind.

Every two years, the Rolex Awards are presented to five Laureates, those who present the most exceptional projects. In 2008, each Laureate will receive US$100,000 and a specially inscribed gold Rolex chronometer and international publicity for his or her project. Five runners-up, the Associate Laureates, will each receive US$50,000, as well as a steel-and-gold Rolex chronometer. Award recipients must use their monetary prizes to implement or complete their pioneering projects.


Rolex Awards reaches out to the MENA region
The Arab world’s long-standing tradition of innovation and scientific discovery, and its rich cultural heritage, convinced the Rolex Awards Secretariat in Geneva that the Middle East and North Africa region could be home to a significant number of potential candidates.

The Secretariat chose to focus special attention on the MENA region, encouraging institutions and individuals to put forward the untold stories of progress being made in the five Awards areas and reverse the Arab world’s under-representation in the Rolex Awards.

In the summer of 2007, the Rolex Awards embarked on an intensive outreach campaign across the Gulf, Levant and North Africa to expand applications for the 2008 Awards.

The outreach proved highly successful: The 2008 series of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise received a record 138 applications from the MENA region, nearly four times or 294 per cent higher than the number of entries in the 2006 series.

Strong regional response
The 138 applications came from 16 countries across the Gulf, Levant and North Africa, including Bahrain (2), Egypt (77), Iran (1), Iraq (1), Jordan (12), Kuwait (3), Lebanon (10), Morocco (5), Oman (2), the Palestinian Occupied Territories (1), Saudi Arabia (5), Syria (7), Tunisia (1), Turkey (3), the UAE (6), and Yemen (2).
The biggest number of regional entries is in the field of the environment, followed by cultural heritage, technology, medicine and science.

The MENA applications represent approximately nine per cent of the current Rolex Awards total of 1,477 entries, with Egypt having the fourth highest number of entries, after the United States, Italy and India.

Selection Criteria
Four main criteria are used to select the winning projects:
Spirit of enterprise – a project carried out with determination, tenacity and boldness, usually against challenging odds
Feasibility – a project that is likely to succeed
Originality – an innovative project that breaks new ground
Impact – a project that has a positive impact on the community
Judges also consider what effect a Rolex Award will have on the completion of the project.

The Selection Committee, an independent, voluntary jury of internationally renowned experts representing a variety of disciplines and countries, evaluates the projects and chooses the Laureates and Associate Laureates. Chaired by Rolex Chief Executive Officer Patrick Heiniger, the panel changes for each series.

Professor Farkhonda Hassan, Egyptian geologist and professor at the American University of Cairo, is one of 12 committee members who met in Geneva last month under the chairmanship of the Rolex CEO to determine the 2008 winners.

Although the 2008 Laureates and Associate Laureates will only be revealed at the Awards ceremony in Dubai in November, 44 projects from around the world were identified as making the international shortlist. Six of those projects are from the MENA region – two from Turkey, and one each from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

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