'One Million Arab Coders' initiative to empower Arab youth with programming skills

'One Million Arab Coders' initiative to empower Arab youth with programming skills

Since the 2017 launch of the 'One Million Arab Coders' initiative by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Arab programmers, academics, entrepreneurs and technology specialists have experienced exceptional years of growth.

Within a few years, the initiative yielded results that reflect the forward-looking vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. It succeeded in gathering top-tier experienced trainers in software sciences and advanced technologies in the world to train participants from about 80 countries, embarking on a journey with five million hours of study and work, 76,000 training workshops, and 100,000 capstone projects.

The results of the 'One Million Arab Coders' challenge will be announced this week, with six software projects developed by Arab youth from around the world competing for the grand prize of USD1 million, thanks to the programming skills they acquired during their participation in the initiative's courses.

Led by the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) and positioned within the framework of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI), the initiative was the largest of its kind in the world aiming to teach one million young people from across the Arab world how to code and enable them to launch exceptional projects and programmes that serve Arab societies.

The initiative has become a tool for building effective international partnerships and a pillar in His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's efforts to revitalise Arab culture. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, the initiative was a leading platform for innovating future solutions in the fields of health, business, and community solidarity.

From its inception, the initiative was based on practical foundations, by providing free training to participating Arab youth, in cooperation with top international technology companies, to refine their skills, enrich their knowledge, develop their capabilities, and build their expertise in advanced sciences.

The initiative consisted of three phases, the first of which began with the global enrolment of Arab students and trainers through the initiative's website. Subsequently, participants received a certificate upon completion of the educational programme, allowing them to enter the 'One Million Arab Coders' challenge.

The 'One Million Arab Coders' challenge is the second stage of the initiative. It was organised at the end of each course to select the best 1,000 participants who qualified for enrolment in an advanced course in the field of programming, with a series of valuable financial prizes allocated to those who excel in this stage.

In the third phase, the best programmers were selected and rewarded with financial prizes and the best trainers were also chosen to receive financial prizes for their role in supporting the initiative in achieving its goals.

The initiative succeeded in providing the world with a pioneering model in enabling programming skills. It was adopted in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with the launch of the 'One Million Jordanian Coders' initiative in May 2019. The 'One Million Uzbek Coders' initiative, in partnership between the governments of the UAE and the Republic of Uzbekistan, was also announced in November 2019.

In April 2020, DFF launched the 'One Million Arab Coders COVID-19 Hackathon' to engage Arab coders from around the world to develop innovative solutions to challenges that have emerged due to the coronavirus outbreak, such as access to healthcare services, education, social solidarity and supporting start-ups.

Teams comprising two to five members presented their solutions, and the jury selected the best 15 teams and evaluated their projects based on prototype work, economic feasibility, user experience and cost of implementation. The solutions were presented to a committee from DFF, which selected five award winning projects and granted them a total of USD50,000.

The top five projects were: 'Sanad' by Farah Mahdi Khudhair, '3al Faraza' by Eman Wagdy Selim, 'Help the Poor' by Mohamed Sobhy Abdelmageed, 'Tammeni' by Saeed Awad Abou Si’ah, and 'Landmine Alert' by Marwan Al Hakimi.

Under the initiative, 32 interactive sessions were organised, led by expert programmers and other specialists as part of the Coders Talk series that aims to introduce technology enthusiasts to the latest global IT trends. The sessions covered a wide variety of topics, such as artificial intelligence, computer science, software engineering, e-commerce, data analysis, programming languages, electronic security, machine learning, cloud computing, electronic applications, the Internet of Things and communications.

Among the international experts headlining the sessions were Sebastian Thrun, Chairman and Co-Founder of Udacity, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and Member of Dubai Future Academy's Board of Trustees; Omar Abdelkader, Full-stack Software Developer at MitchDesigns; Al Sayed Gamal, CTO, Lead Architect and Senior Software Engineer at Cognitev; Mohamed Abo-Shosha, Engineer at STC; Mohamed Osama, Software Engineer at Trella; Hadi Partovi, Founder and CEO of Code.org; Rory Preddy, Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft; Ayça Baş, Cloud Developer Advocate at Microsoft; and Maha Ashour, Assistant Vice President at Mashreq Bank, in addition to several initiative alumni from across the globe.

Marking a new milestone for the initiative, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in July 2021 invited graduates to develop innovative software based on the skills and experience they acquired throughout their time in the programme, in a technological competition that is the largest of its kind in the region. The winning project will be honoured with a grand prize of USD1 million, and five runners up will receive USD50,000 each.

Through its platform consisting of more than 3,600 certified trainers from around the world, the initiative has since its launch awarded more than 1,000 nanodegrees to outstanding participants, and supported those wanting to learn programming.

News Source: Emirates News Agency

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