Refugees' plight moves Emirati students to 'make a change'


Refugees plight moves Emirati students to make a change

Dubai - Five other 'made in the UAE' projects were featured at the US fair along with inventions from 80 other countries.

By Sarwat Nasir

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Published: Fri 7 Jun 2019, 10:44 PM

Last updated: Sat 8 Jun 2019, 9:41 AM

For the group of Emirati students who wowed the world with the portable shelter they designed for refugees and homeless people, winning a UN award is just the beginning of a mission.
"We wanted to attract organisations to support us and help us reach different refugee camps," said Dhabia Alhosani, one of the three team members behind the 'Refushield' project.
'Refushields' are cost-effective, portable shelters that can be easily constructed. They were conceptualised to protect refugees and homeless people from harsh environments and help them cope with unpredictable weather conditions.
When the students of Al Mahaweb School in Abu Dhabi presented their work last month at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 competition in Arizona, US - they won the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Award.
"Our project is targeted mainly at refugees and the reason we were triggered to make a change was because we read about the conditions of different refugee camps around the globe," said Alhosani.
"We, specifically, went in depth into Al Rukban refugee camp, which is a refugee camp in Jordan that is not being supported by any organisation, thus the sheltering there is very poor."
Alhosani, along with her teammates Reem Alhajeri and Aamena Almarzooqi from the same school, were supported by their supervisor Dalia Eissa all the way.
"We decided to design a shelter that was different. We designed it in a way that people who live in it will be able to stand harsh weather. We also added the air-purifying feature into the tent's textile to ensure that they can breathe safely and reduce potential health risks that they are normally exposed to.
"We also ensured it was cost-efficient and it would last longer than other tents," she said.
The project was initially displayed at the UAE's largest science fair, Think Science. But because it was one of the exceptional ones, the invention made it all the way to the US-based fair.
The award that the group won was provided by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) and the Junior Academy of Science of Ukraine under the auspices of Unesco.
Five other 'made in the UAE' projects were featured at the US fair along with inventions from 80 other countries.
Two Think Science projects, in particular - the 'Aroma Virtual Reality' and the 'Tougher Boats Made from Local Palm Tree Fibre' - were selected to be published in the International Journal of High School Research and were recognised for their "outstanding quality to represent the future of the scientific community".
Students from the Dubai National School in Barsha had built the 'Aroma Virtual Reality' project. It involves stimulating one's sense of smell and linking aromatherapy with virtual reality. It can be used for teaching and as therapy for those suffering from anxiety, ADHD, autism, and other disorders.
Maytha Al Habsi, CEO of Emirates Foundation - the organisation behind the UAE's Think Science - said: "Through the Think Science programme, Emirates Foundation aims to empower young people by providing them with a platform that encourages them to innovate and deploy technology that addresses some of today's broader socio-economic challenges. It is through exposure and hands-on experience at such international platforms that the youth gain the knowledge and self-confidence to transform their creativity into real solutions."

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