MENA Youth Virtually Hack the Future

MENA Youth Virtually Hack the Future
20 Oct 2022

Oct 15 – MENACodes is thrilled to announce the results of its virtual hackathon and innovation competition which brought together a cohort of over 120 enterprising youth from across the Middle East and North Africa. The latest iteration of MENACodes was organized in conjunction with MENACatalyst Sweden, an international NGO that is building new collaborative networks of support between the MENA region and Sweden to promote impactful and mutually beneficial cross-border partnerships.

MENACodes was established in early 2019 as MC’s primary digital literacy program working to empower a new generation of youth with the digital skills, creativity, and innovation mindset needed to become tomorrow’s innovators today and transform the future. Through this program, MC is providing a gateway for the region’s youth to acquire the 21st century STEM skills needed not only access global opportunities but create them.

Combining the latest trends in 21st century skills development, entrepreneurship, and creative problem-solving techniques, MENACodes has proven time and again that it understands that the region’s youth need access to quality education that ensures that they have the practical and technical skills, knowledge and mentorship support needed to transition into the market economy and ultimately generate decent and sustainable employment outcomes while generating long-term impact.

As such, MENACodes launched its virtual bootcamp which has culminated in a hackathon and competition which grouped participants together to innovate real-world solutions to one or more of the many challenges facing their communities today. Seven teams with the most innovative solutions were selected to pitch to a panel of judges. In the spirit of collaboration and building cross-border bridges, youth from different parts of the region were teamed up and ideated innovative solutions together.

Examples of innovative project ideas that were ideated during the hackathon include, Knowledge tree, a digital learning tool that allows children to learn about different topics via interactive games. Another creative project was YAS (You are Special), a mobile application used to assist those with hearing impairments, the app acts as a dictionary curating all the sign language symbols and their meaning to improve the communication capabilities of users. Read to Me is an application and website that offers summarized books/articles in audio form people may use for research purposes or just to gain general knowledge about a specific topic, the app also offers podcasts. And finally, Global Guide was created as a tourism application that provides tourists with an array of special features such as a map to historical sites in augmented reality, quick access to top attraction sites, and different deals to top destinations.

The jury panel consisted of: Salah Hussein founder and CEO of 2 startups 1) EzPilot a data collection and statistical data analytics application, and 2) Firnas Intelligent an information technology and business development company; Safaa Ayyad founder and CEO of a social enterprise that connects young men and women to job opportunities available locally and internationally; 3) Mahmoud Abu Shamleh founder and CEO of SkidPick he has gained over 25 years of experience in the field of commercial and industrial business development. They scored projects and provided invaluable feedback to participating youth.

The winning teams included:

In first place: Read to Me - an application and website designed specifically for people whose favorite pastime does not include reading! Read to Me offers users summaries of books, novels, articles and more as a podcast. Listeners will enjoy this app as they use it to complete research projects or even gain general knowledge on a certain topic. We congratulate team members Hanady Abu Odeh (Palestine), Shahd Al-Wahidi (Palestine), Dareen Abu Jabal (Lebanon), Hiba Saddiq (Syria) and hope they continue to move forward in this project!

Next and in second place: Global Guide - an e-tourism app that features a map of MENA's top geographical, cultural, historical and attraction sites in augmented reality and includes historical information of each site. The app was also created as a means for the MENA community to really get re-introduced to their region and explore its treasures not to known to many. Congratulations to team members Maha Quqa (Palestine), Eman Al-Shawa (Palestine), Mohammad Hachem (Lebanon), Noor Al-Wahidi (Palestine)! This application has the potential to become a huge success in the tourism industry and we can’t wait to see the app launched and running!

Participants of the hackathon had this to say:

“The mentorship sessions and talks were so great they helped us win first place in the hackathon!” Shahd Al-Wahidi, Read to Me Project

“Discussing and building our project with the help of all the startup founders and entrepreneurs was an experience we will never forget and we are grateful they helped us win second place!” Maha Quqa, Global Guide.