Dubai launches One Million Arab Coders 'COVID-19 Hackathon'

Themed "Coders versus Corona," a total of $50,000 is up for grabs by five teams that are able to present ideas that can mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the use of technology.
By Ahmed El Sherif
12:41 PM

Credit: Dubai Future Foundation

As part of its One Million Arab Coders (OMAC) initiative, Dubai is in search of the next best coders from the Arab world to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Launched by the emirate’s Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the 'OMAC COVID-19 Hackathon' is a 'Coders versus Corona' event aimed at coders who are able to develop “innovative solutions to challenges that have emerged due to the COVID-19 outbreak”. These solutions will focus on creating effective services and software pertaining to healthcare services, education, social solidarity and even supporting startups.

“The hackathon provides participants with an opportunity to highlight their future skills, ideas and knowledge in employing the techniques of programming languages,” DFF said in a statement. “It is also a chance to allow them to showcase their skills in coding by developing new solutions to the challenges presented throughout the initiative.”

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The hackathon’s website is now accepting applications from teams made up of two to five members. A special committee – comprising experts from various government agencies, technology companies, research centres and academic institutions – will review submissions before selecting the top 30 teams/ideas. They will be required to work with supervisors to prepare prototypes, as well as present a two-minute demo video. The final fifteen team ideas will be evaluated by a DFF committee, who will select five projects, awarding them a total of $50,000 to begin working on their solution.

WHY IT MATTERS

Coinciding with World Creativity and Innovation Day (WCID) on April 21, the UAE has been keen on raising awareness about the “importance of creativity and innovation in solving problems for advancing the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals and in all aspects of human development”.

As this year’s WCD comes at a time when the world is battling the coronavirus pandemic, the UN has called on innovators to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The UAE government has already demonstrated its use of various advanced and smart technology – such as artificial intelligence – with its launch of the world’s largest COVID-19 lab outside of China; “drive-thru” COVID-19 screening centres; smart helmets, and sterilisation robots.

ON THE RECORD

“The launch of the ‘OMAC COVID-19 Hackathon’ comes as part of DFF’s efforts to achieve the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and his belief that a strong knowledge-based economy is one that promotes continuous learning, creativity and innovation, as well as empowers youth to develop their talents in all fields, including coding, this to contribute to the development of the nation,” said Abdulaziz AlJaziri, deputy CEO and COO of DFF in a statement.