Teenage Syrian refugees ‘Team Hope’ win at Dubai robotics competition

Five Syrian refugee teenagers have won a competition to build robots able to help clean up pollution in the world’s oceans.

‘Team Hope’ – Maher El Assawi, Ammar Kabbour, Salam Al Farekh, Youssef Shaaban, Amina Kabbour and supervisor Yamen Alnajjar – led the winning four-team alliance in the grand final of the First Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai on Sunday.

The FIRST Global Challenge is a three-day robotics competition with more than 1,500 pupils from 191 countries. It is the first time the competition is taking place outside the Americas.

“The visions, goals and aspirations of the young people from different countries of the world that have competed in leveraging robotics and artificial intelligence to find solutions to global challenges raises hope for a better future, led by young people, who are determined to improve standards of living,” said Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future.

Mr Al Gergawi, also Vice Chairman of the board of trustees and managing director of Dubai Future Foundation, was speaking at the event’s closing ceremony on Sunday.

The opening ceremony for the competition on Thursday was attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and featured a performance by American musician Will.i.am.

This year’s theme, “Ocean Opportunities”, focuses on creating robots to clean up the oceans through eliminating waste and pollutants.

Representing the UAE in the competition was seven-member ‘Team Falcon’ – Shawq Al Dhanhani and Sheikha Al Sreidi from Dibba Al Fujairah Secondary School, and Hamad Saeed, Abdullah Jawdat, Abdul Rahman Abdullah, Ghazi Salem, and Mohammed Yasser from Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed School in Hatta.

The teams were selected based on their performances in qualifying events over the past year. Each team received a robotics kit and were given the task of assembling and maintaining it.

Mr Al Gergawi said that the broad international participation in the tournament highlights the UAE’s influential role in global efforts to use technology to build a better future by providing an environment that stimulates creativity and innovation.

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