Posted on October 31, 2015

In a dramatic elimination episode of MBC 4’s Stars of Science, an “edutainment reality” TV program initiated by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), Omar Hamid of Egypt and Fawzy Othman of Tunisia delivered a spirited defense of their prototypes to prevail over their competitors. The pair edged out Abdullah Aldossary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Hussam Al Hinnawi of Palestine in an episode that featured Season 7’s most diverse set of inventions yet.

The Arab world’s most promising young innovators compete against each other to make their ideas come alive on the series, which brings to fruition QF’s vision of encouraging and facilitating the region’s next generation of aspiring young science and technology innovators. Twelve candidates aged 18 to 30 are given the opportunity to come to Doha, Qatar, where they are mentored by world-class engineering and design specialists in the laboratories of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), a member of Qatar Foundation. There, the innovators are challenged as they develop their ideas from concept to potential products.

With full hearts and frayed nerves, the candidates took turns presenting their prototypes to the expert jury in yesterday’s engineering episode. First, Fawzy explained to the jury how his Robotic Goalie Trainer could revolutionize goalkeepers’ practice sessions by automatically shooting footballs as part of a customized program. Omar unveiled a re-engineered, compact Prayer Chair designed to offer assistive sitting and standing to worshippers in a mosque with physical disabilities.

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Next, Hussam demonstrated how his Automatic Stair Climber Machine uses robotic, tank-style treads for users to ascend stairs without effort at the press of a button. Rounding out the group, Abdullah debuted his Airport Smart Chair, a lounger with many automated features, including an alarm that notifies travelers when their plane begins boarding, even if they are sleeping. The jury included perennial fan favorites Mr. Yussif Abdulrahman Saleh, General Manager of Qatar Shell Research and Technology Center, and Dr. Fouad Mrad, Executive Director of the United Nations ESCWA regional technology center. Joining them was Dr. Francois Gilardoni, a prominent venture capitalist and scientist from Geneva, Switzerland.

The jury, led by Dr. Gilardoni, was critical of Hussam’s Automatic Stair Climber Machine, pointing out that the machine appeared unstable while traversing stairs during his demonstration. They noted that while Abdullah was able to prove that focus groups liked the idea of the Airport Smart Chair, his presentation had weaknesses that raised more questions about his prototype’s utility than it answered. Fawzy employed a skillful defense of his Robotic Goalie Trainer prototype when jurors quizzed him about its mechanics. But Omar managed to steal the show when he presented his Prayer Chair.

All three jurors were impressed by the simple effectiveness of the invention, as well as the perseverance Omar showed despite several early setbacks in the laboratory. The jury scored the young innovators based on prototype performance (50 percent), product outlook (30 percent) and the resourcefulness and leadership exhibited by the candidate (20 percent). Omar outscored everyone by a large margin, earning 69 points, while Fawzy came in second with 52.3 points. Abdullah and Hussam placed third and fourth, respectively, and were eliminated from the competition.

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“I’m humbled that the jury appreciated the potential of the Prayer Chair, as well as its possible applications even beyond the mosque,” said Omar. “I passionately believed in my invention and its potential from day one. Having world-class, highly sophisticated innovation veterans recognize my project is a dream, come true. Moving forward, my goal is to give my absolute best effort and encourage others around me to do the same – we are all in this together.”

“I have worked to develop innovative projects for years, but I can say that Stars of Science has been a major catalyst for my success. Advancing this far is a crowning achievement for me and a testament to the effectiveness of the program,” said Fawzy. “I’m delighted to have progressed this far, but I’m not satisfied. I will redouble my efforts to eliminate weaknesses in my prototype, so that I can impress the jurors in the design stage and rise above my competition.” 

The next Stars of Science episode, to be shown on MBC4 Friday, November 6th at 7PM KSA/ 4PM GMT, will see three candidates face the jury in the design stage. One of them will be eliminated. The four finalists who survive the design stage will earn a share of the $600,000 prize, with the winner determined in a special live final episode.

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