Qatar app to teach Arabic to English speakers

Qatar app to teach Arabic to English speakers01 Qatar app to teach Arabic to English speakersQatar: A mobile application that introduces native English speakers to the Arabic alphabet has been launched by Qatar Foundation International (QFI) and Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) in a new effort to make Arabic more accessible to those unfamiliar with the language.

The mobile application, Madar Al Huruf, uses an interactive and innovatively-designed Arabic language wheel created by Munira Al Badi, a Qatari graphic designer and graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University — Qatar.

Meaning “wheel of letters” in Arabic, Madar Al Huruf is both a physical handheld and virtual wheel. It is user-friendly, designed to be rotatable on two sides and allows non-Arabic speakers to learn how to match English letters and sounds, such as their name, to their Arabic phonetic counterparts.

With QFI support, Munira worked closely with US-based teachers of Arabic in Washington, DC to finalise the wheel’s design. Two Arabic teachers in Tucson, Arizona also assisted in developing the user guide and curriculum.

Originally launched in the US as a physical device, the wheel is being brought to the digital world through the combined efforts of QCRI, QFI and the original designer, in an effort to extend its reach globally to individuals and communities unfamiliar with Arabic.

With QCRI’s expertise in technology around Arabic language research and development, and leveraging the technical advancements that have been made thus far, QFI is now launching the Mobile Application version of Madar Al Huruf.

“Learning the basics of Arabic by writing your name, the name of your hometown or a friend’s name demystifies the language and increases appreciation for the culture in the process,” Maggie Mitchell Salem, Executive Director at Qatar Foundation International, said.

“That is the goal of Madar Al Huruf… We work with talented individuals and partners to break down linguistic and cultural barriers by having those with no prior exposure to Arabic engaging with the alphabet in a fun, interactive and meaningful way.”

QCRI’s Arabic Language Technologies team has been working on a number of projects related to e-education, enabling people to access and learn in a language not native to their own.

“We identified a gap in the online education domain for language learning and have been developing supportive technology for language learning including an assistive language learning tutor and an Arabic e-book reader,” Stephan Vogel, Principal Scientist in the Arabic Language Technologies team at QCRI, said.

“Madar Al Huruf serves as a great first step into a whole host of inventive language learning tools that QCRI has developed for non-native speakers of Arabic.”

Baljit Singh, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, implemented the iPad and iPhone versions of Madar Al Huruf. Singh was an intern with QCRI during the summer of 2012 and worked on Arabia – a computer assisted language learning application. “I am pleased to see that the skills and techniques which Baljit Singh learned while working on Arabia were applicable to Madar Al Huruf,” Francicso Guzman, Scientist at QCRI and Singh’s mentor, said. “Madar Al Huruf employs a similar intelligent feedback mechanism and multimedia interaction, which benefits those in the process of learning a new language.”

QCRI is one of three national research institutes established by Qatar Foundation, and is part of the Foundation’s Research and Development enterprise.

© Gulf News


University of Wollongong in Dubai recognises excellent students

University of Wollongong in Dubai recognises excellent students 01 University of Wollongong in Dubai recognises excellent studentsDubai, UAE: Hundreds of students were honoured during the 24th graduation ceremony of the University of Wollongong in Dubai on Wednesday.

Among them were top achievers who shared with Gulf News their tips on excelling in studies.

The graduation was attended by Shaikh Mansour Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president of Al Shabab Al Arabi Club, and coincided with the university’s 20-year anniversary in the UAE.

The graduation saw 463 undergraduates and postgraduates receive their degrees from the President of the University, Professor Trevor Spedding.

“This day sees the award of our 7,000th degree, which is a fitting milestone to commemorate another landmark achievement in the university’s history – the 20th anniversary of our establishment in the UAE,” said Spedding.

During the ceremony the top graduating students received awards from Shaikh Mansour and the president.

One of the top achievers awarded was Emirati Manal Al Rasasi, a 21-year-old Bachelor of Commerce graduate (finance), who clinched three awards — Top Graduate B.Com Finance, Top Emirati Graduate and the Academic Excellence Award by Dubai International Academic City.

Speaking on her achievement, Manal attributed her success to being a perfectionist who always wants to challenge herself and push her limits.

“The key to my success is that I put studying as my ultimate priority regardless of what happens around me and my motivation for all of this is making myself and my parents proud. Just seeing that proud look in their eyes means everything to me.”

For students who wish to become top achievers, Manal advised: “You are in university to study, not to play around, so why not focus on your studies and graduate as a top student like I did. It will all be worth it I promise,” she said,

Another top achiever was Mohammad Shahzaidi, 22, who changed his major to take charge of his family business.

“I was a science student but then I transferred to bachelor of commerce to help my dad with the family business. I never expected to be a top graduate in marketing and I am happy with my decision because my father handed me the whole business and I am well equipped to deal with it now,” said the Sri Lankan.

Shahzaidi said that being committed in studies is key and everyone can be a top achiever if they work hard.

“I don’t believe that any subject is hard, all that you have to do is basically attend all your classes and make sure to know who you hang out with. I was able to balance sports and studies even as a transfer student and I believe that anyone is capable of doing so,” he said.

© Gulf News


Emirati authors promote reading in Dubai schools

EL Emirati authors promote reading in Dubai schoolsDubai, UAE: Two Emirati children’s book authors visited private schools across Dubai to promote reading as part of the First Arabic Language Week held earlier this month by the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

Authors’ Fatima Al Kamali and Hamda Al Bastaki of “I Don’t Want to Shower” — which was published with the aid of Dubai Airports — visited private schools all over Dubai to promote a love of reading and books.

“We were very pleased to have Fatima and Hamda with us at the Arabic Language Week. Their book was very well-received and their success story is inspiring. It is wonderful that young authors are writing engaging stories for children in Arabic,” said Yara Mirdad, Education and Children’s Programme Coordinator at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

The local Emirati students wrote “I Don’t Want to Shower” while studying in the Applied Communications department of HCT – Dubai, Women’s Campus.

The book, they said, was the perfect vehicle for them to use their creative writing, design and illustrative skills.

Both authors have a keen interest in film.

Hamda directed the film “El Laileh”, which was showcased as part of the Cannes Film Festival.

Their films have also been shown at regional film festivals.

The ‘First Arabic Language Week’ was held between October 6-12, where the KHDA chose 23 private schools that have a large number of Emirati students to be visited by local authors.

Other local children’s authors that were expected to take part in this initiative include Manal Al Ghadani, Maitha Al Khayat, Sahar Naja Mahfouz, Reem Al Gurg, Noura Al No’man and Noura Al Khoury.

The 2014 Festival will be held in March, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, Dubai.

© Gulf News


Academy to train an Emirati Formula 1 champion set up

Academy to train an Emirati Formula 1 champion set up 01 Academy to train an Emirati Formula 1 champion set upAbu Dhabi, UAE: Fancy your chances of becoming the next Sebastian Vettel? Your time may have arrived, as a racing academy has opened with the aim of producing an Emirati Formula One champion.

As the UAE gears up for the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, Abu Dhabi Racing has linked up with Daman, the national health insurer, to launch the Daman Speed Academy.

It is hoped the academy will produce a new generation of drivers who will compete at an international level in motorsports from karts to single seaters, Grand Tour, endurance racing and rallying.

“The main objective is to offer a very high level of training to develop the training skills of young UAE nationals, and prepare them for careers as professional racing drivers,” said local racing legend Khaled Al Qubaisi, a board member of Abu Dhabi Racing.

But Mr Al Qubaisi said the “ultimate goal” of the academy was to find and nurture the first Emirati F1 driver.

“As part of this progress, we will be grooming them to become junior ambassadors for their country and role models for other young Emiratis, working to promote the leisure, sporting and business attractions of the UAE, as well as its culture and heritage.”

Proving that talent runs in the family, Mr Al Qubaisi’s daughter Amna, 13, is one of the seven UAE nationals – and the only female – to be chosen for the first batch of students.

They will start an eight-month training programme after the GP concludes on Sunday.

“My dream is to race like my dad and to fulfil it I am going to try my best,” said Amna.

Mr Al Qubaisi said he hoped his daughter would follow in his footsteps.

“I am very proud,” he said. “Amna has been asking me for the last couple of years about going into a motorsports career.”

His daughter was the inspiration behind the initiative, Mr Al Qubaisi said, and had “nagged” for a special racing academy in the emirate.

“I owe it to her,” he said. “She is very committed and she has a lot of talent.”

The other Emiratis chosen are Abdalla Al Noohi, 17, Mohammed Karmostajji, 16, Sheikh Khaled Al Nahyan, 15, Mansour Al Suwaidi, 13, and Ahmed Al Hameli, 13, all from Abu Dhabi, and Saeed Al Ali, 14, of Dubai.

They were chosen from 40 candidates aged between 13 and 17, who were first identified through their karting results over the past two years.

“This is a great programme, a programme that will lay the right foundations for the development of future great Emirati motoring stars,” said Mr Al Qubaisi.

“We want them to represent and promote our country, and help fly the UAE flag high and proud.

“Of course, our long-term goal is to deliver the first Emirati F1 driver. But this should not be underestimated. It will take a lot of effort to make this a reality.”

A prize fund is being set up to enter the drivers into race meetings and championships.

Depending on age and performance level, they will compete in karting and single-seat events.

The most advanced will be allowed to take part in selected races in this season’s FG 1000 Formula Gulf Championships run between the UAE and Bahrain, with the prospect of a full championship campaign the following season.

Sven Rohte, chief commercial officer of Daman, said the insurer was delighted to be associated with Abu Dhabi Racing.

“As a national, socially responsible company we pride ourselves on helping create a bright future for the nation, through actively supporting UAE youth across a range of initiatives designed to help them unleash their true potential,” Mr Rohte said.

Each of the first seven candidates have been given commemorative, custom-made Daman Speed Academy helmets in the colours of the UAE national flag.

The seven will next week start intensive, twice-weekly sessions on the karting tracks at Yas Marina Circuit, Al Forsan International Sports Resort Abu Dhabi, Al Ain Raceway and Dubai Autodrome.

Mr Al Qubaisi said the training schedule had been designed to not interfere with their schoolwork. All must keep good grades at school to stay in the academy, he said.

The programme has been designed by Saeed Al Mehairi, an instructor at Yas Marina Circuit and one of the UAE’s most experienced GT racing drivers, and Samiha Zammouri, programme manager at Abu Dhabi Racing.

It will help the younger drivers to become “the full package” on and off the track, said Mr Al Qubaisi.

It consists of on and off-track coaching to develop skills, physical fitness sessions, advice on a healthy lifestyle, media training and instruction on safety and rules.

After training, the seven are expected to head for Europe in June for a series of sessions at different French race tracks.

The extended F1 race weekend at Yas Marina Circuit begins on Thursday.

© The National


Teaching award could inspire new educators, GEMS Education

Teaching award could inspire new educators GEMS Education 01 Teaching award could inspire new educators, GEMS EducationUAE: Awards for excellence are offered in many fields today: those who further the cause of peace, push the limits of the sciences, write great books, create art and music and film, are all rewarded with international prizes.

To this field of awards could soon be added another: an international accolade for the education sector. As The National reported yesterday, a US$1 million (Dh3.7m) Nobel-style prize will be launched in Dubai next year, during the Global Education and Skills Forum by Gems, the worldwide education group based in Dubai.

Sunny Varkey, chairman of Gems said on Tuesday that the aim of the award is “to promote teachers as stars and to support the quality of education to highlight the enormous impact teachers have on our lives”.

Teaching is one of the most important jobs. It requires constant dedication, determination and a wide range of skills and qualities such as effective communication and leadership.

Teachers do more than simply teach material. The very best of the breed are agents of change, inspirational figures who nurture talent. All of us have a story to tell about a teacher who affected us strongly. The best of the profession bring history to life and put science in order. They help students reach their potential.

So any recognition of their hard work and the creation of role models is welcome. As yet, the education prize is long on intent and short on details. But it is to be hoped that the award will do more than merely offer a financial award to a profession whose best rarely seek such rewards.

What would be ideal would be for the award to seek to create and highlight role models. To show the best of teaching and the best of teachers, and then provide ways for these “stars” of the profession to spread what they have learnt. We would like to see the award winners spreading the word: being offered ways to improve the skills of ordinary teachers and spreading their knowledge; sharing their best practice and inspiring more educators to emulate them.

Teaching is deeply contextual: like nursing, it depends on a close connection, and what works in one context may not easily apply in another. Yet the best teachers will share many traits of compassion and expertise. If there is an award for teaching, we hope it will provide the same level of inspiration to teachers as they provide, day in and day out, to pupils across the world.

© The National


HBMeU honors outstanding learners for embodying excellence in e-learning

HBMeU honors outstanding learners for embodying excellence in e learning 01 HBMeU honors outstanding learners for embodying excellence in e learningUniversity’s 76 multicultural Dean’s Listers poised to become ‘accountable leaders’

UAE, October 30, 2013 – Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University (HBMeU) recently honored 76 of its top learners for the Fall and Spring 2012-2013 semesters, citing the Dean’s Listers as perfect examples of the university’s vision of excellence in e-learning.

Exceptional undergraduate and postgraduate learners from HBMeU’s e-School of Business and Quality Management (e-SBQM), e-School of Health and Environmental Studies (SHES) and School of e-Education were feted during a Recognition Ceremony held recently at the HBMeU University Auditorium in the presence of Chancellor Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, School Deans, Program Directors, Faculty, Registrars, and other fellow learners.

“This recognition is in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of HBMeU, who often encourages us to not just mold bright and special learners but to inspire productive members and future leaders of society who excel in everything they do.

HBMeU takes pride in your achievements and hopes that your fellow learners will follow in your footsteps. We would like to congratulate our dear learners for reaping the fruits of their hard work and dedication,” said Dr. Al Awar.

“We commend our learners for their achievements in line with one of HBMeU’s primary goals of delivering a unique university experience to prepare future accountable leaders of the 21st century. The diverse nationalities of the honorees also reflect the nurturing and motivating multicultural environment of HBMeU,” Dr. Al Awar added.

Eman Bader Obaid Al Suwaidi, a UAE National taking up Master of Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership, said: “Being included as a Dean’s Lister was extra-special for me as a mother who has to balance between my responsibilities at home and my desire for personal and professional growth. HBMeU makes it possible for me to achieve my dreams and use e-learning and other technologies to make life easier for me, my family, and society as a whole,”

Another honoree, Aldina El Halabi from Serbia, who is studying for a Bachelor of Business and Marketing degree, added: “The entire HBMeU community – from faculty to staff – has always encouraged me to reach my full potential and aim for the best. I thank the university for its support, guidance, and faith in me as a student and as a person who can truly make a difference.”


For further information, please contact:

Orient Planet PR & Marketing Communications
P.O Box: 500266
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 4 4562888


Najah exhibition kicks off in Abu Dhabi

Najah is a popular Education Exhibition in Abu Dhabi 01 Najah exhibition kicks off in Abu DhabiAbu Dhabi, UAE: Thousands of students and fresh graduates looking for jobs on Tuesday visited an education, careers and training event, Najah, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).

The three-day exhibition was inaugurated by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.

The training and career fair, which will take place until Thursday, expects more than 15,000 students over the next three days. With the UAE education sector now accounting for approximately 24 per cent of the total government expenditure and estimated at a market size of $7.3 billion, education remains a key focus of the Najah exhibition.

“Higher education is growing exponentially in the UAE, reflecting a rapidly increasing local and expatriate population coupled with ambitious government objectives to develop a stronger knowledge economy,” Khurram Saeed, director of Najah exhibition, said.

Over 49,000 high school students graduate every year in the UAE, according to the UAE National Bureau of Statistics.

The UAE currently hosts 37 international university branch campuses, which is more than any country in the world, and many of which are participating in the seventh edition of Najah.

The fair has seen a Japan pavilion for the first time to promote Japanese education and create awareness about the country’s premier universities and courses.

“We are today celebrating the establishment of the Educational Development Office (EDO) in Abu Dhabi with the participation of 15 global Japanese universities. Our main focus at Najah exhibition is to provide visitors with useful information to fully understand the educational system as well as the attractiveness of life and study in Japan.

“With around 44 Emirati students enrolled currently at Japanese universities, our ambition is to increase them to 500 in the coming five years,” Masako Kishimoto, vice-president of the Japan International Cooperation Centre, told Gulf News.

Additionally, a dedicated pavilion for the US embassy has attracted many high school students, who are interested in completing their studies abroad.

“It is the third time for the US Embassy to participate at Najah exhibition and it is a great experience. This year we have selected the best of American education to meet the needs of students from across the UAE. In 2012 we had over 2,000 Emiratis enrolled at different US universities and most of them had a growing demand for science majors,” Michael Corbin, US Ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News.

With the vast majority of employers sourcing talent online today, Najah exhibition also offers a CV clinic for job seekers in order to have a competitive professional online profile and make a good impression on a potential employer.

Despite 68 per cent of employers looking to source top talents across all career levels this year, a poor command of the English language and a failure to customise CVs to the applied jobs are two of the main barriers stopping UAE job seekers from landing their dream jobs, a recent employer survey report has revealed.

© Gulf News


Bold thinkers in the UAE cut carbon footprint

Bold thinkers in the UAE cut carbon footprint 01 Bold thinkers in the UAE cut carbon footprintUAE: It is a small school with the big dream of saving the planet. The corridors of the 33-year-old Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School may be neither pretty nor contemporary, but the rows of solar panels on its roof are both.

The panels were funded by Masdar’s Zayed Future Energy Prize, after the school won $100,000 (Dh367,300) for a proposal to reduce its energy consumption by 40 per cent. The prize is reward for the work of the Abu Dhabi school’s eco-club, a team of staff and students dedicated to cutting the school’s carbon footprint

No one at the school ever imagined it would win so much money.

“The thing is, we never thought of the prize, or money,” says Mir Anisul Hasan, the principal.

“We work for a greater call. Our mission and objective is to be in touch with the greater issues of the environment, which affect the very existence of human beings.”

Two years ago, the school, tucked away in Al Zahra, joined the sustainable schools initiative run by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. It cut energy consumption by 15 per cent by switching to CFL low-energy light bulbs and planting grass and trees irrigated with reused water.

Later that year came a gold award for best managers of energy and a silver award for best managers of land. At the ceremony, Masdar invited the school to enter its Zayed Future Energy Prize competition; the school’s entry was the award-winning solar-panel project, backed up by an audit conducted by pupils.

Dh150,000 of the prize money has already been spent installing solar panels that produce between 64kWh and 70kWh a day. They power all the schools lights, fans and computers, which collectively consume 64kWh. The 48 panels run for 12 hours a day and reduce the school’s energy consumption by a further 15 per cent.

The panels also use groundbreaking technology, according to Khurram Nawab, the inventor of the Solar PV platforms and managing director of Mulk Enpar Renewable Energy. The platforms track the sun’s movement, with special mirrors to maximise light exposure.

Mr Nawab says these two innovations boost energy production by 53 per cent. “The students are very fortunate to have a system on their roof where they can learn.

“Not many schools in Abu Dhabi have this. And in Abu Dhabi, this is the first time we’ve installed this system on a rooftop. I’m sure one of the students will become one of the best renewable-energy engineers.”

The school’s original second-stage plan was to invest in batteries to store unused solar energy. This was scrapped in favour of reducing the school’s need for air conditioning, its largest energy drain, through passive cooling. It is experimenting with the principles behind traditional Arab architecture – historic, energy-free methods of lowering temperatures.

Mr Hasan insists his guests have coffee, delivered in an age-worn mug. He is even more adamant about the snacks. Speaking with increasing conviction, he says: “We are doing something – small or big, it doesn’t matter. Our goal is very high. A quest for a new beginning – a greater and better purpose. Our students are motivated, parents are motivated and we are going to have a drive to motivate the community also.”

The eco-club was pioneered by Mr Hasan and when he became principal he handed over the reins to Anita Saul, an English teacher. Ms Saul is a living legend to her students; a well of inspiration and good conscience. Ask any student involved in the eco-club for the source of their inspiration and the answer is always an enthusiastic smile and two words: Anita Saul.

She answers questions with an enthusiastic “yes, yes, yes” uttered in quick succession, and never seems to stop smiling. “Yes, yes, yes. I have been the eco-club co-ordinator for some years now. I think there are about 100 to 120 schools around Abu Dhabi who have registered as sustainable schools. We are one among them.”

The school has always struggled to make ends meet. It still charges only Dh350 a month for high-school pupils and Dh600 a month for college students. With only about 600 students, income is slim. Becoming more energy-efficient makes the school not only more environmentally sustainable, but financially too.

“Our students are from very, very low social strata. Some are OK but most of them are below the average economic level. They’re struggling, in fact. So this is a huge opening for them, their brilliance here is an opportunity,” Mr Hasan says. “When we applied we never thought we would get it because compared to so many better, giant schools, this is a very ordinary school. But we went ahead; we worked hard to apply, took it very seriously and it has transformed our school. And our attitudes too.”

Being from a country that “could one day be totally under water”, the school’s Bangladeshi students are more than aware of the potential devastation climate change could wreak on the planet. Teams of eco-club students carry out air, land, water, waste and energy audits using manuals prepared by the environment agency. Staff and pupils often work through breaks, and after school. Ms Saul says she always tells pupils not to underestimate themselves.

“Before, they were feeling somewhat inferior, an isolationist feeling,” she says. “Now, many have already charted out their future careers. So even though it’s only 600 students, I feel they’re very happy. Whatever opportunities they couldn’t get otherwise, this has opened up things. They feel every one of them can make a difference – it is hope and confidence this prize has given them, more than the material benefits.”

Ms Saul’s passion stems from the portrayal of nature in literature, and watching the next generation grow from boys and girls into eco-warriors.

“They all know about Sheikh Zayed’s vision, the prize itself is named after him. Every day they even catch the teachers and ask if they’ve switched off the lights, if they’re using plastic bottles. We’ve seen them grow into individuals with different personalities, with a great awareness of sustainability and responsibility.” She laughs, “and we’ve trapped the great ones to go into this field”.

She points to a quiet boy, Fahad Bashar, 17, who wants to become a renewable-energy engineer. Fahad is one of the eco-club’s older members and mentors children as young as 12. He says: “Anita Saul inspired us to join the team. We’re inspired by her dedication and her hard work. She does so much for the school and the students. But we got a lot of inspiration from the Environment Agency’s book too.

“I joined when I was 15. Now we also have a lot of junior students. We follow the manual step by step and we create awareness in the school. We’ve told the junior classes to do auditing and now we have installed the solar panels, we have even more responsibilities. Every day, we monitor the solar panels, and check the production and consumption.”

Mohammed Jared Nur, 18, has also been a member for two years. Mohammed, however, wants to study aeronautical engineering, not renewable energy.

“I just want to contribute to the environment and support society. I was in land auditing before, we made a garden where there was only sand before, it was desert. We measured and calculated the green and desert areas in our field and submitted it to our teachers.”

Beena Shaji, a science teacher and club member, says the school prepares students to overcome future energy crises.

“We explain that later it’ll affect them most. Science works with environmental sustainability – they’re parallel to each other. When students study it, they always become interested and get involved. My duty is to increase student awareness about the future and encourage them, because we need renewable energy. Petrol and all this is going to decrease.”

The school introduces the concepts of renewable energy and climate change to children as young as four. Rekha Thushar, a kindergarten teacher, says the students learn more and more every year.

“If we’re giving the foundation stone when they’re young, they will continue. Normally we start with segregation of waste and make them understand they have to love nature – small things. At home they conserve too, switching off the light when they go out and other small measures. Now they’re proud because they know we’re getting the energy from the Sun.”

The most confident and articulate student is a bespectacled 13-year-old girl with pigtails, Zarin Tusnim Isra. “We’re doing awareness campaigns too. We went to Abu Dhabi cooperative and other places like that. I want to be an environmental scientist because the Earth needs it. Our environment is being polluted gradually because of too much release of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. And that’s why we need innovations, new technologies.

“When we produce too much energy, we emit a lot of carbon dioxide – so we need to come up with new ideas, like solar panels.”

© The National


Emirati students granted US patent for foot-controlled car-steering system

Emirati students granted US patent for foot controlled car steering system 01 Emirati students granted US patent for foot controlled car steering systemAbu Dhabi, UAE: A team of young engineers have been granted a US patent for their system that allows a car to be driven without using hands.

The car has three levers on the floor that enables the driver to fully control vehicle with the feet – without the need for a steering wheel.

The engineers hope the vehicle will be especially useful for disabled people, and there could also be applications within the military or industrial fields, where it may be necessary to have your hands free to carry equipment and still drive a vehicle.

The UAE University College of Engineering team consisted of 21-year-old Reem Al Marzouqi, a student from the Architectural Engineering Department and the inventor, and her colleagues Hazim Waleed and Husam Haboush.

The project supervisor, Prof Yousif Haik, from the Mechanical Engineering Department, oversaw the creation of the vehicle.

“In the beginning, the idea was to work on a project that has a positive social impact as part of the curriculum,” Ms Al Marzouqi said.

“I often thought about Jessica Cox, the American pilot with special needs. I thought, ‘how can she pilot a plane without both her arms, and how was she able to adapt with her disability?’ This is how I got the idea to help people like Jessica to drive cars. I was able to communicate with Jessica and she told me how difficult it is for her to drive a regular car using her legs and she said she wished there was a car specially designed for people like her that she could drive herself.

“She also expressed her sadness about a complaint filed against her by her neighbour for driving a normal car with her disability which could be risky for others.

“She said that when she drives a normal car with her feet she feels pain in her back and numbness on her toes and she can’t drive for long hours. She wished a solution could be found.”

The patent was filed last year through the Technology Development Committee’s Takamul programme, designed to support innovation and streamline the patent process for local inventors.

The vehicle was first showcased at Takamul’s UAE Innovations conference in March this year.

The patent application stated the need for such a device:

“Driving a vehicle currently requires functionalisation of both arms and one or more feet. The mobility of people with physical disabilities, such as with upper-extremity disabilities, is hindered by the lack of proper devices that utilise other methods of controlling the manoeuvrability of vehicles.

“Thus, a need exists for vehicle control systems that are more accommodating to drivers with upper extremity disabilities.”

Prof Reyadh Almehaideb, deputy vice chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies, said: “The invention, which student Reem Al Marzouqi came up with, is evidence of the attention the university gives to scientific research and to motivating students’ creativity. This special car is a successful future project for the faculty of engineering students who, with their efforts and perseverance, were able to translate a concept into tangible reality that responds to the needs of a considerable segment of society – locally and globally.

“This US patent from one of the leading patenting bodies in the world is proof and only proves the project’s importance.

“Work is under way to get similar patents from Japan, China and the European Union for the project.”

© The National


UAE’s Kalimat Publishing, Samsung sign e-learning agreement

UAEs Kalimat Publishing Samsung sign e learning agreement 01 UAEs Kalimat Publishing, Samsung sign e learning agreementSharjah, UAE: Taking another step forward towards the use of technology to support education in the Emirates, Kalimat Publishing Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with mobile technology providers Samsung to facilitate the implementation of the e-learning programmes of Horouf Educational Publishing.

The e-programs aim to provide a valuable tool that will enable educators and students to better use technology in the learning process.

“The advances in mobile technology have irrevocably changed the way that we as a society interact with the world around us, which is why finding ways to effectively integrate this technology into the educational process is of vital importance,” said Shaikha Budoor Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, founder and CEO of Kalimat Publishing Group.

Under the agreement, Samsung will provide tablets and charging lockers for classroom use on an annual basis. The company will also be provide Kalimat Publishing Group with its mobility products and will be offering the Horouf app in its online store, along with training courses for teachers.

Horouf Educational Publishing, a part of the Kalimat Publishing Group, is also an educational programme that aims to develop a new approach to Arabic Education.

The programme works to provide innovative learning solutions to support the teaching of the Arabic language at schools, starting from preschool levels.

© Gulf News