UAE’s biggest science fest to begin on Thursday

National Science, Technology and Innovation Festival features student projects, international speakers, awards and family fun

Speaker is Dr Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary, Activities Sector, and Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department, Ministry of Education


Dubai: The five-day National Science, Technology and Innovation (NSTI) Festival begins on Thursday, to award some of the brightest Emirati students, showcase latest developments in the field, and offer families a carnival atmosphere.

The free-to-enter NSTI Festival will run till Monday at Dubai Festival Arena, near Dubai Festival City. It is organised by the Ministry of Education and held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The festival is also being held as part of the ongoing UAE Innovation Month (February).

On Wednesday, ministry officials briefed the media about key activities, initiatives and events of the NSTI Festival, which has segments in Conference, Awards, Science Fair, Family Festival, and Industrial Revolution X (IR-X), among others.

More information on the festival is available at www.nstifestival.ae.

Ministers of education, higher education, public education, advanced sciences, artificial intelligence, and culture will be participating, along with some of the leading speakers in the world on technology.

Jameela Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, said the festival “has significant importance as it reiterates the nation’s visions that make innovation the core of its journey towards science and advanced knowledge. The festival demonstrates the aspirations of our government and the vision of our wise leadership that recognises the importance of innovation and shed light on its invaluable contribution in various spheres of life.”

She added: “The NSTI Festival allows students and community members to stay up to date on the latest developments in science, technology, modern techniques, artificial intelligence and the latest trends in advanced educational solutions. It offers a comprehensive agenda with its various events, programmes, competitions, initiatives, sessions and workshops by experts and educational leaders from around the world.”

Providing an overview of the festival on Wednesday, Dr Amnah Al Dahak Al Shamsi, assistant undersecretary, Activities Sector, and director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department, Ministry of Education, said the festival builds on similar — but smaller — events held in 2016 and 2017.

“This year, we have moved to the focus on innovation because we want to align with the National Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation,” as well as emphasise “core sciences”, she added.

At the festival, there would be a ‘Student Retreat’ of 100 accomplished pupils discussing topics — led by ministry experts, and volunteers from the federal and local sector — that are “high on the UAE educational or overall agenda, like standardised international testing … and food security”.

Other discussions will focus on student issues, including bullying, “because we as a ministry think it’s very relevant and we want to take the students’ views”, Al Shamsi said.

The festival will also mark the start of IR-X, beginning with a ‘design thinking’ workshop. However, IR-X, which was announced by the ministry last month, will also run beyond and independently from the festival. The results will be announced during the 2019 edition of the festival.

IR-X will evolve with time and adapt its content to prepare UAE nationals for upcoming “industrial revolutions” — hence “X” in the name, which represents future eras.

On Wednesday, Al Shamsi said the aim of the festival — and of IR-X — is to enable Emirati students to be “active participants” and “enablers” of such revolutions, which mark the era of disruptive technologies and scientific breakthroughs.

Citing Tuesday’s World Government Summit address of Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in Dubai, Al Shamsi said the UAE had been a “recipient” of past industrial revolutions but now has the “edge” of being an “active participant” and “exporting the enablers of this industrial revolution to the world”.

Another highlight of the festival will be UAE Young Scientist Award, presented for the first time. It will be awarded to the student project that demonstrates a remarkable innovative idea and impresses the panel of experts at the festival’s science fair.

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