Innovators Under 35 MENA (IU35) aims to honor leading innovators with superb technical expertise, whose inventions or studies promise change the way people live for the better, and make a quantum leap around the world. The Award, launched by Majarra in the region in 2018, is the Arabic version of the global award launched by MIT Technology Review in 1999.
Judges committee for the fifth edition of IU35
The committee of judges comprises distinguished and independent technical experts, entrepreneurs, and academics, affiliated with research centers, leading tech companies, and prestigious universities globally, and they are as follows:
- Bashar Kilani: Managing Director, Accenture
- Fadi Aloul: Dean of College of Engineering, American University of Sharjah
- Abdulaziz Almalik: Foundation Team Member – Research, Development, And Innovation Authority in KSA
- Maryam Matar: Founder & Chairperson, UAE Genetic Diseases Association (UAEGDA)
- Saeed Al-Nazari: Secretary General of Great Arab Minds, Director-General, Federal Youth Authority, UAE/ Executive Director of The Youth Office at the UAE Prime Minister’s Office/ Chief Strategy Officer of Arab Youth Center
- Abdulsalam Haykal: Executive Chairman, Majarra
- Maha Albalushi: Managing Director, Oman Tech Fund
- Najla Al Midfa: CEO, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa)
- Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed: Co-Founder & CEO, Nabd, Electron Games, and Wave Line Media
- Imad Elhajj: Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Associate Dean for Academic Transformation at the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at the American University of Beirut
- Hussam Khaskieh: Chief Executive Officer, Transtek Systems
- Fares Ghandour: Partner, Wamda Capital & CEO, Tuhoon
- Ashraf Khalil: Professor of Computer Science, College of Technological Innovation, Zayed University
- Mohammad Hajjiri: Consultant in Interventional Cardiology and Electrophysiology
- Mootaz Elnozahy: Professor of Computer Science, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
- Dina Shoman: Co-Founder, Verity the App
- Nidhal Guessoum: Professor, PhD in Astrophysics, University of California at San Diego, USA
- Wissam Achmar: Managing Director, Iron Mountain, KSA and Bahrain
- Salman S A Butt: Co-Founder, Chief Research and Innovation Officer, Salla Holding Limited
- Malak Abed Al-Thagafi: Professor, Emory School of Medicine, Founder and CSO- Shomool LLC
- Fatimah Alhamlan: Consultant, Department of Infection and Immunity, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center – Associate Professor, College of Medicine, Alfaisal University
- Yousif Asfour: Chief Innovation and Transformation Officer, American University of Beirut
- Mohammed Bashkeel: Partner, Further Ventures
“There are quite valid grounds for me to encourage the MENA innovators. The Award comprises innovators who possess special skills that will save time and effort through developing novel ideas. IU35 is considered an invitation for creative youth to motivate them to innovate and advance their societies”, Dr. Malak Abed Al-Thagafi, a professor at Emory School of Medicine, founder and CSO of Shomool LLC, and judge of IU35 since 2019, stated.
“Innovation processes significantly contribute to the social progress of our region, and make innovators feel valued and more involved and connected to their communities,” Al-Thagafi added. Dr. Malak believed that revealing the creative capabilities of innovators leads to the maximum benefit of their potentials. “We need to recognize and reward successful new ideas, an objective that stimulates me to be a part of IU35,” she concluded.
“Innovations are the backbone of advanced economies; society as a whole should encourage innovators to achieve a knowledge-based economy. Celebrating young innovators is a noble step toward achieving this goal,” Ashraf Khalil, a professor of Computer Science, College of Technological Innovation, Zayed University, said.
Winners of previous editions of IU35
Since its launch in 2018 so far, the Award has been received by 55 innovators from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Kuwait, Tunisia, Algeria, Oman, Turkey, and the United States. The Award winners are typically capable to innovate and think creatively, to find solutions to the problems faced by our societies and institutions, and present pioneering innovations that would make a quantum leap and constitute a vital addition to the sectors on which this Award focuses.
It is noteworthy that three of the winners of IU35 in 2019 won the global version of the Award in 2020; the Emirati Ghena Al-Hanaee won the Award in recognition of her work in developing an integrated platform for managing energy and water resources in the Middle East, and the Palestinian Omar Abu Dayeh was selected for his work on Development of novel CRISPR systems with greater capacity for gene editing and molecular diagnostics, while the Tunisian Mohamed Dhaouafi received the Award for his work on developing customizable 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for children and young adults.