Dubai: Over 200 young coders from 500 schools take part in Hackathon

Students attend national UAE Codes event, which celebrates coding, coders, and how they utilize technology

By Lamya Tawfik

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Representational image

Published: Sat 29 Oct 2022, 5:14 PM

Last updated: Sat 29 Oct 2022, 8:16 PM

Nearly 200 students and 50 groups from 500 public schools in the UAE were told by industry experts that the key to succeeding in the coding field is to be in constant-learning mode.

The experts were addressing the students who were participating in the Hackathon, which is part of the annual UAE Codes event, held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

In his opening remarks, Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications told the attendees that the future belongs to those who continuously learn.

“In the future, being illiterate doesn’t mean that you don’t know a language but that you are unable to constantly learn to keep up with the changes,” he said, adding that coding helps people adapt to the changing world and learn creative thinking.

The barrier of entry into the field of coding is almost non-existent, said Al Olama.

“Anyone can learn it, and can build an international platform from their own home. They can work with international organizations from their home.”

He told attendees that the UAE has taken long strides when it comes to programming. “In 1972 when the programming language C, was invented a young one-year-old nation had leaders who believed that the future is in the hands of their people and that all new skills must be made available for the youth of this nation. In 50 years, we moved from being a new country to one that is developed and indeed a role model for all nations around the world,” he said.

It was indeed the codes written by the UAE coders, he said, that made the Hope probe possible.

“We reached Mars, we built the tallest building in the world, we created new services and we even export technologies to the world,” he said, emphasizing the importance of coding. “We don’t react with the changes as they happen but we anticipate our needs for the future.”

Iman Alomrani, the Chief Digital Advisor for UAE Public Sector at Amazon Web Services told students that even though technology has come a long way, humans must always be “in the driving seat to ensure that technology is used for the good of mankind.”

She said that technology will enable every single career they can think of, reiterating the fact that that there “is no finish line”. “Do not give yourself any excuse that you can’t reach, you’re the one running the race not anyone else,” she told the students encouraging to ask experts in the field, to always learn from others and to find a mentor.

Dr Ebtesam Almazrouei, Director, Artificial Intelligence Cross – Center Unit, Technology Innovation Institute encouraged the attendees not to think about salaries but to focus on following their passion.

“The beauty of the tech industry is that you can use the coding skills in any sector. Follow your passion and all the reward will come later,” she said. She encouraged them to invest in their time today so that they could benefit themselves and their country.

“You have the support of the government. Don’t only rely on your school curriculum, speak to people in the industry to acquire all the skills that you need for your own future,” she said, adding that today, knowledge is at their fingertips.

Khalid AlAwar, Data Scientist from Talabat emphasized that today, there are no barriers to learning. “We live in a permission-less age. You can develop an app and publish it and people will have access it from all over the world,” he said.

He encouraged the students to dedicate time daily to develop their skills by reading and learning.

“The power of compounding will be a huge mass. In a few months, you will see that where you are today isn’t where you were in the past and isn’t where you’ll be in the future.”

The students taking part in the Hackathon were selected after being given a challenge by the Emirates School Establishment (ESE): to come up with creative technology-based ideas to help people of determination, explained Dr Yahya Al Ansaari, Chief Executive Officer of Education Development Sector (Secondment) at ESE.

Entry salaries in the field of coding could range from Dh15,000 to 25,000 and can increase depending on specialization and skills, he said.

UAE Codes is a national event held on October 19 every year and celebrates coding, coders, and how they utilize technology. More than 50 government and private entities took part this year


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