United Arab Emirates - December 08, 2020: Students from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner university, secured first place in two of the three categories at this year’s Al Fikra competition. The winners for the national business competition, which is hosted by Qatar Development Bank (QDB), were recognized during the virtual Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference 2020.
Mohammed Al-Qassabi won in the Startup Category for an invention to automatically detect when football players are offside. An information systems junior, Al-Qassabi’s idea brings together his deep interest in technology and a passion for football.
Al-Qassabi believes his CMU-Q courses prepared him well for the competition. “Most of my courses this semester were about entrepreneurship, and I applied that knowledge throughout the competition. I believe it made a big difference.”
Ali Al-Maadid won in the Mashrouie Category for his concept of a metal recycling plant. Al-Maadid, who is a business administration senior, has developed a keen interest in metallurgy and believes his idea can help keep waste metal out of the landfills.
Al-Maadid, who graduates in May 2021, is looking forward to a career that transforms his community: “I don't want to start just a small business, I would like to revolutionize the recycling industry in Qatar, and change the way we take care of our environment.”
Al Fikra was founded by CMU-Q’s George White in 2013, and is now a part of QDB’s slate of educational programs for entrepreneurs. White, who is a distinguished professor of entrepreneurship at CMU-Q, remains active with the organization of Al Fikra, and encourages his students to participate.
“There is enormous educational value to competitions like Al Fikra,” White said. “The competition was originally designed to educate the participants through workshops and mentoring, and this practical experience is very valuable for emerging entrepreneurs.”
White is both an advisor and mentor for Al-Maadid, who credits his professor for setting him on this career track: “Professor White has been supporting me in my entrepreneurial journey, and I would like to thank him for that. He has been a great and supportive advisor.”
The Al Fikra competition spans four months and includes workshops in both conceptualizing and developing business ideas. CMU-Q is an educational partner for the Al Fikra competition. This year, Ihab Younis, associate teaching professor of biological sciences, served on the judging panel.