The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education Launches MIT Bootcamp in Partnership With UAEU Science and Innovation Park to Drive Youth Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE), in partnership with the United Arab Emirates University’s Science and Innovation Park (UAEU SIP) announced today the launch of a 10-week bootcamp, offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where participants will tackle youth unemployment in the Arab region.  


In line with the UAE’s National Agenda 2021 to transition to a knowledge-based economy, the Bootcamp will challenge participants to design innovative and sustainable ventures to solve youth unemployment challenges across the region. In doing so, participants will build their business acumen and develop the soft skills needed for today’s employment and entrepreneurial landscape through access to high quality MIT curriculum.  


The blended program, offered by MIT instructors and coaches, who are MIT faculty and entrepreneurs, will include live lectures and workshops on innovation and entrepreneurship. Throughout the duration of the program, participants will form into groups and will have the chance to work together to further their ventures, meeting in various locations across the UAE hosted by UAEU SIP in Al Ain and its partners, Hub71 – who will host the meet-ups in Abu Dhabi – and the Youth Hub, who will host them in Dubai.  


After the 10-week program, participants will present their final projects to an esteemed judging panel for the chance to be selected for a six-month incubation program at UAE University’s Science and Innovation Park. The final panel of judges will include innovators and entrepreneurs who inspire this generation to dream bigger and reach higher. Following the incubation, winning projects will then be showcased at EXPO 2020 through UAEU SIP. 


Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar, CEO of AGFE, said: “The UAE’s Vision 2021 National Agenda demands establishing a competitive knowledge economy. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic like campus closures has exacerbated challenges that could have acted as barriers to the development of Emirati and Arab youth to achieve this laudable goal. At AGFE we are deeply committed to working with local and international actors to better help serve Emirati and Arab youth as they work towards contributing to the sustainable development of the country and the region. This is why our partnership with MIT and the UAE University’s Science and Innovation Park is particularly timely. It illustrates how a shared vision to empower youth to be innovative and drive sustainable change in the region is made real even during challenging times. We look forward to witnessing the innovations that participants collectively envision, and will be very excited to see these ideas come to fruition and find their way to an international stage at Expo 2020.” 


Vimala Palaniswamy, Director of MIT Bootcamps, We are delighted to be collaborating with AGFE and UAEU to bring MIT Bootcamps to youth in the UAE, around such an important topic and in this innovative format. It would not be possible without their close cooperation. The Bootcamp can serve dual purposes: sparking ideas to solve the growing issue of youth unemployment in the Arab world; and educating and training the Emirati and Arab youth selected by AGFE and UAEU in important skills such as problem solving, leadership, collaboration, and effective communication that they can apply in a range of industries and contexts beyond this particular collaboration. I look forward to seeing what these students accomplish in the next ten weeks and beyond.” 


Prof. Nihel Chabrak, CEO of UAEU Science and Innovation Park said: “the UAEU Science and Innovation Park has partenered with the AGFE and MIT to offer this unique experience that is aligned with the University effort to support capacity building and nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset to rewire the attitude of the youth towards their future. The 100 Million Stars initiative which is the vision behind the University participation at Expo 2020 supports transforming the 100 Million youth unemployment challenge in the Arab World into 100 Million shining stars using innovation and entrepreneurship. We believe in the importance of giving voice to the youth to tackle this critical issue and to empower them to become real agents in society. The bootcamp is an opportunity for them to gain the skills, attitudes and a growth mindset and to work on real life challenges to become problem solvers and change makers.” 


Commencing on February 15th, 2021, and running until April 22nd, 2021, the MIT Bootcamp has 120 participants already enrolled, 95 of which are Emirati and 25 of which are students, unemployed fresh graduates and young professionals from across the Arab region who are currently living in the UAE. Some of the nationalities represented within the participants include Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.  


In addition to the UAE University’s student participation, other participating universities include Khalifa University, American University of Sharjah, University of Sharjah and Zayed University.  


AGFE collaborated closely with the MIT Open Learning last year to jointly publish a comprehensive white paper promoting blended learning in the Arab region, as the transition towards blended and online learning models increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Titled ‘Charting a Path Forward: A Multi-stakeholder Collaboration to Promote Blended Learning in the Arab World’, the results of the study provided a guide for policy makers and higher education institutions to offer more sustainable, high-quality and accredited online degree programs and courses.