Dubai:– Deira International School (DIS), a flagship institution under the Al Futtaim Education Foundation (AFEF), is thrilled to announce that a team of its sixth-form students have been selected to compete in the eminent NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC) 2024. This marks a historic milestone as they are the first team from the UAE and, currently, the only team representing the MENA region in this prestigious competition.

The NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, set to take place on April 19-20, 2024, at the U.S. Space & Rocket Centre in Huntsville, AL, USA, is an initiative that aligns with the UAE's vision for space exploration and innovation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The challenge invites young minds to design, develop, and test human-powered rovers, encouraging the next generation of scientists and engineers to think beyond the conventional. By engaging in this competition, the young scholars are contributing to the momentum of the UAE Space Program, echoing the nation's drive for scientific discovery and technological advancement.

Ms Mira Omar Al Futtaim, Chief Future of Education Officer and board member of the Al Futtaim Education Foundation elaborated on the broader impact: "This outstanding achievement is a reflection of our steadfast commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and experiential learning. It's a testament to the potential harboured within our educational framework to contribute significantly to the UAE's space exploration ambitions. The students' endeavour in the NASA HERC is a stride towards realising the broader national objective of positioning the UAE as a hub of scientific and technological innovation. Their journey embodies the essence of the Artemis Generation, propelling them into a realm of boundless possibilities."

The team, comprised of six students aged 16-18, alongside their School Advisor, Mr Dominic Bourn, Head of Physics at DIS, is geared up for the challenge. The students showcased an exceptional design brief that secured their position in the competition and set a precedent for STEM excellence within the UAE.

Mr Simon O'Connor, AFEF Chief Education Officer and Director at Deira International School shared his excitement: "Being the first team from the UAE to participate in such a prestigious competition exemplifies our ethos of nurturing a community of globally competent and curious learners. This venture also opens avenues for collaborative engagement with local businesses and universities, as our students seek support in building their rover and acquiring sponsorship for their expedition."

The Al Futtaim Education Foundation is proud to stand by the promising young minds of DIS as they venture into a realm of scientific exploration and representation on an international platform. This endeavour further cements the foundation's mission of bridging the gaps between potential, opportunity, and employability, contributing to the larger narrative of the UAE's progressive stance in the global scientific community.

Al Futtaim Education Foundation (AFEF) is an initiative the Al Futtaim family launched to support the UAE Government's and Knowledge and Human Development Authority's (KHDA) vision for creating a globally competitive knowledge economy while maximising their social contribution to the community.

For more information about the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, visit: (


About Al-Futtaim Group

Established in the 1930s as a trading business, Al-Futtaim Group today is one of the most diversified and progressive, privately held regional businesses headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Structured into five operating divisions; automotive, financial services, real estate, retail, and health; employing more than 33,000 employees across more than 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, we partner with over 200 of the world's most admired and innovative brands.

Al-Futtaim Group's entrepreneurship and relentless customer focus enable the organisation to continue to grow and expand, responding to the changing needs of our customers within the societies in which we operate. By upholding our values of respect, excellence, collaboration, and integrity, Al-Futtaim Group continues to enrich the lives and aspirations of our customers every day. For more information, visit: