Google and Al Bayt Mitwahid Association hosted a special STEM forum focused on building a highly connected and digitally skilled society in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. The event featured an array of speakers including Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Education Council, His Excellency Ahmed Al Calily, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee and Susan Pointer, Google’s Head of Public Policy and Government Relations for Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.
The event aimed at bringing policymakers, technology companies, educators and non-profits together to promote innovation in science and technology through partnerships in education, programs and research. The forum was held at Majlis Al Bateen in Abu Dhabi, serving as a platform to discuss global science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) trends and good practices.
During her address speech, Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi said:
"I applaud Al Bayt Mitwahid Association and Google for organizing this forum that fosters an important dialogue between the education and industry sectors. Google is widely considered as one of the most innovative companies, and a supporter of STEM education, which is undoubtedly the principal driver of innovation-driven knowledge producing societies. Abu Dhabi Education Council is taking major steps to create a culture of STEM education in our schools and universities, and forums such as this are a very important part of such a culture."
“We hosted this forum to provide a platform for different stakeholders to come together and discuss how to further contribute to the UAE’s innovation agenda through partnerships. We can only do so if we work with experts from all fields. Our partnership with Google and the UAE’s Teacher Association has brought a state of the art STEM lab to life in Ras Al Khaimah, which serves as a permanent space for the future innovators of Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE. We hope that this forum contributes to more partnerships like this in the future,” said Ibrahim Al Mannaee, Secretary General of Al Bayt Mitwahid Association.
Google’s Government Relations and Public Policy Lead for the Gulf Countries, Sam Blatteis said, “The country’s rapid development in industry, aerospace, green tech and nuclear will see demand for STEM graduates skyrocket. UAE youth over time, can play a key role in creating the future economy. At Google, we believe technology can make the world a better place. The essence of Google is computer science. Investing in innovative programs like this is a top priority for us.”
Google and Al Bayt Mitwahid Association also honored the winners of the Innovation Hub Robotics Competition, a competition launched in February at the Innovation Hub’s inaugural ceremony.
Lenka Kollar and David Nothacker, both INSEAD MBA students graduating in July 2015, presented highlights of a STEM research paper conducted as part of their Abu Dhabi Action Learning Module on the INSEAD campus in Abu Dhabi. Their paper aims to assemble a best-practices STEM strategy drawing on benchmarks from around the world across six key levers: culture, education, infrastructure, incentives, governance and industry. It also recommended adopting a Google Computer Science First program at scale as a key way program to socialize STEM education among youth.
His Excellency Ahmed Saeed Al Calily, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee added saying, “As leaders of Government, Industry & Academia, it is crucial that we work together to create the right environment for innovation to flourish. Giving our students a solid grounding in STEM subjects and equipping them with the right tools to utilize that information is vital to the country’s future success, but we also need to create the right knowledge networks that enable sharing of skills and best practice. We have to work together to create platforms that provides the conditions to nurture innovation that will support our goal of transforming our UAE youth into the skilled talent-base that this is necessary to achieve our economic development goals and help position the UAE amongst the most innovative nations in the world.”
The Innovation Hub is a STEM lab in Ras Al Khaimah established by Al Bayt Mitwahid Association, Google and the UAE Teacher’s Association. It aims to generate interest among students in STEM education through exploring and innovating with hands-on learning activities such as programmable robots, humanoid robots, radio controlled model aircraft simulators, drones, and a 3D printer among other things. Innovation Hub also includes a maker’s space that the participants of the robotics competition utilized to train and build their own robots to participate in the competition.