Team of Syrian refugees wins world’s biggest robotics event
ROBO-POWER: Team Hope with their supervisor Yaman Alnajar after they were named the winner of the FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai.
The Syrian refugees, aged 13 to 17, had presented two robots: ‘Robogee’, which educates people on the struggles of refugees; and another that can clean the ocean.
A group of five Syrian refugee teenagers – Team Hope – led a four-team alliance to a dramatic victory in the grand finale of the FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai. The third edition of the annual robotics competition, the first to be hosted outside the Americas, drew the participation of more than 1,500 students from 191 countries.
The Syrian refugees, aged 13 to 17, had presented two robots: ‘Robogee’, which educates people on the struggles of refugees; and another that can clean the ocean. The Hope Team members – Maher El Assawi, Ammar Kabbour, Salam Al Farekh, Youssef Shaaban, and Amina Kabbour – believe that the obstacles and difficulties they faced in war-torn Syria, motivated them to make the world a better place through robotics and artificial intelligence.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Amina Kabbour, 15, who now lives in Lebanon, had said: “Our robot can raise awareness on the 70 million refugees around the world who are struggling every day. My family fled Syria about six to seven years ago and that is the life we have known. We live in a small home but there are many others like us who are living in refugee camps. It’s important that we use platforms like these to raise awareness, and also display robots that serve other important purposes like cleaning our beautiful oceans.”
Ammar Kabour, the senior-most member of the team, said he aimed to create innovative solutions to address environmental issues the world is facing today. Youssef Shaaban started his programming journey two years ago while Salam Al Farkh has an aim to change the stereotype of a refugee. Maher Al Essawi has not only learnt to build robots but also taught the skill to 23 students. The Hope Team’s supervisor Yaman Alnajar said that the team’s journey is a story of determination, tenacity and hard work. “The team works 10 hours a day on improving robotics and artificial intelligence skills, apart from pursuing their regular studies,” he said.
Under the slogan ‘United by Land, Connected by Oceans’, the global youth robotics event resonated with humanity’s wider ambition to motivate people from around the world to clean up our oceans to build a brighter future for our planet.
Hosting a competition with such a crucial ethos at its core underscored the UAE’s message of tolerance, in addition to the underlying philosophy of the FIRST Global Challenge – to provide a global platform for talented young people to leverage the power of collaboration and communication to tackle environmental challenges.