Young Emiratis showcase their wares at tech start-up challenge

Young entrepreneurs develop innovative apps to perform myriad services in du Emirati Startup Challenge

Dubai: An innovative app that connects facility management companies with tenants has won the top prize in the first du Emirati Startup Challenge held at Zayed University on Monday.


Developed by 22-year-old Emirati Khalid Al Awar and Abdullah Al Hashemi, the integrated online system ‘Mabany’ topped 30 contestants from UAE universities who pitched various tech related start-up ideas that focused on solving issues in the UAE community.

The nationwide challenge was launched as a platform that seeks to encourage young Emiratis to develop their innovative ideas and business plans by providing them mentorship and funding and also putting them in touch with potential investors.

Some 18 semi-finalists presented their pitches to Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, and a panel of judges from Zayed University

Al Olama said: “We are extremely proud of the start-ups presented today. This is a pioneering initiative that supports the growth of entrepreneurial aspirations and skill sets both in the country and in the region.”

Al Awar, co-founder of Mabany, received Dh25,000 in funding for a project he developed that aims at easing communication between facility management companies and end users, tenants.

“Mabany is a business to business (B2B) software, a service cloud solution that connect facility management companies operating in residential buildings with the tenants, ensuring the best user experience,” said Al Awar, co-founder of the business and a graduate from Khalifa University.

The business, he said, began as a graduation project at Khalifa University that was later developed. The mobile app would allow tenants to easily submit a request to the facility management company stating their preferred time and even attach photos of, for example, a water leakage.

“I will use the funds from the prize to focus on customer acquisition. My project is highly scalable and low in maintenance but marketing it and acquiring customers is important at this stage.”

Winning the second prize with Dh15,000 of funding was the start-up Emit, an on-demand personal shopping application that can deliver in less than two hours. While third prize went to two winners, the start-up business Fursah by Maryam Bel Houl and DriveLess by Faisal Al Hawi, who each received Dh10,000.

Bel Houl convinced judges that her app ‘Fursah’ would be a pioneering project that would help match people to suitable volunteering opportunities based on skills and time preference. While Al Hawi’s DriveLess smart app can be developed to help motorists avoid traffic by predicting peak hours to users.

Khalifa Bel Houl, CEO Dubai Future Foundation, and member of the judging panel, said the start-up models pitched in by young Emiratis at the event were assessed based on three criterias, the idea, the passion of the individual and how prepared they were from a financial perspective.

“I think we’ve seen a variety of projects and different individuals with different passions and ideas. The fact we saw many ideas is encouraging, some of them were more prepared and had more detail. It’s encouraging for us as Dubai Future Foundation, because we are extremely dependable on youth and tech ideas, so it’s nice to see local talent passionate about ideas going forward,” he said.

The event was organised by E11 Gobal, a global start up platform that provides entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to successfully develop their own businesses, and Step Group, a Dubai-based media and events company responsible for launching STEP Conference in the UAE.

First Place: Mabany — Co founders Khalid Al Awar and Abdullah Al Hashemi

Second Place: Emit — by Amna Al Gaith

Third Place: Fursah — by Maryam Bel Houl and DriveLess- by Faisal Al Hawi

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