Just last month, the Ismaili Centre Dubai was pleased to be the site for the first-ever high school innovation challenge in Dubai, led by a team of Harvard College students. The conference, known as the HGEM Innovation Challenge (HIC), brought together some of the brightest students in the UAE. The Innovation Challenge was organized by the Harvard Undergraduate Global Education Movement (HGEM), a recognized student organization at Harvard College, in partnership with Harvard Club of the UAE, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai, and the Ismaili Centre Dubai.

The Ismaili Centre Dubai provided a beautiful venue as well as shared knowledge about the AKDN and the Academies that provided the students with food for thought as they developed innovative solutions. The Innovation Challenge attracted 110 of the region’s top high school students, all of whom competed in teams to pitch the most innovative solution to a pressing issue relevant to the Dubai region in front of a panel of Harvard alumni, including Harvard Club of the UAE President, Sajida H. Shroff. Students were given the opportunity to address an issue in one of three areas: public health, education, and sustainability.

Upon presenting their proposed solutions, student teams were interviewed by HGEM. The sentiments of the students were unanimous: the Innovation Challenge was unlike any other high school conference offered in Dubai before. When asked about the overall impact of the conference, one student remarked, “I think the most important thing I’ll take away from HIC is working with so many people … it was great getting to collaborate with everyone.”

At the end of the three-day conference, students were given the opportunity to present their ideas regarding innovation in the Dubai region. The results were very impressive. “I was blown away by the creativity of all of the students in attendance. Their proposals were very well-thought out. These students show great promise. Overall, it was a job very well done. We are so grateful to have been able to host this event in the beautiful Ismaili Centre Dubai” remarked Emily Hunter, Harvard College student and Co-President of HGEM. The rest of the organization members shared similar perspectives and echoed the importance of Ismaili Centre Dubai which represented the ethic of inclusiveness and tolerance espoused throughout the conference.