Middle school students from eight Arabic schools in Qatar were able to put their entrepreneurial skills to the test during the inaugural Young Entrepreneurs Competition, held in collaboration between Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar Career Development Center (QCDC), Teach for Qatar, and Bedaya Center.

Gharam Al-Yafi (also an alumna of QSTP’s Arab Innovation Academy 2019) along with two other leading teachers on the initiative, Diana Aref, and Fikria Al-Dous, enrolled in the Teach for Qatar program and established the Young Entrepreneurs Competition as their graduation program. Through their participation in the Meshkat program they received training and guidance which they successfully applied and delivered to their students. Experts from the Meshkat program trained the teachers on entrepreneurship in line with Qatar Foundation’s (QF) philosophy of enhanced collaboration.  

The Meshkat program was jointly developed in 2020 by QF members QSTP and QCDC to raise awareness of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship among Qatar’s high school students, and features workshops, academic clinics, an introductory seminar on entrepreneurship and technological innovation, and a visit to QSTP’s facilities.

The three teachers also participated in the teaching and leadership development program at Teach for Qatar, establishing their new initiative as part of their final graduation project. The program is designed to be delivered entirely in Arabic, and serves as a platform for Arab students to clearly understand the essentials of tech entrepreneurship. The program also encourages critical thinking, creativity, and innovation; key elements of the human and social development components of the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Hayfa Al Abdulla, QSTP Innovation Director, said, “We are proud to have combined efforts with other leading players in Qatar’s educational and entrepreneurial ecosystems to magnify the impact of the Meshkat program. Since its inception this program has served as a catalyst to both enhance the level of knowledge and develop the capabilities of our younger generation, who are keen to explore the inspiring and competitive world of technology and innovation.”

Throughout the competition, teams of students completed a series of dedicated workshops to gain insights into the entrepreneurial journey and explore the various stages of tech innovation, such as concept building and validation. They then had the chance to pitch their startup ideas to an expert panel of judges composed of representatives from QSTP, QCDC, Teach for Qatar and Bedaya Center. Three winners were selected: students from Soda bin Zamaa School came in first place, Fatima Al Zahraa For Girls School ranked second, and Maria Al Qutbia School came in third.

“The impressive caliber of the pitches from students during the Young Entrepreneurs Competition was on par with the quality and depth of projects we have seen at university level. This speaks volumes about the strength of the Meshkat program in equipping its trainees with a strong set of entrepreneurial skills and empowering them to deliver impact,” Al Abdulla noted.

“The Young Entrepreneurs Competition reflects our mission to contribute to the professional development of our students, help them become independent thinkers, and make informed decisions about their future careers. We are glad to collaborate with QSTP and our other partners in organizing the successful inaugural edition of this competition, which is helping our young talent identify at an early age the best way for them to contribute to the development and prosperity of our country.

“Qatar has an evolving entrepreneurship ecosystem, and we are glad to be an active force in further developing it. As the country’s leading center for career guidance, QCDC will continue to support our young entrepreneurs and guide them to effectively translate their ambition and ideas into impact. I congratulate all the winners and participants and encourage them to keep pushing themselves,” Abdullah Al Mansoori, Director, QCDC, said.

Senior Entrepreneurship Advisor at Bedaya Center, Ahmed Al Saygh, said: “Our role in this competition was to help provide the right level of education, to help Qatar’s students unleash their creativity and hone their business mindset. Through our workshops, the teams were able to learn how to use SWOT analyses and the business model canvases in a real-world application, for example. During their pitches, we were proud to see the level of detail the students included, and that they were able to connect their project ideas to serve the Qatar National Vision 2030. We look forward to seeing how their projects develop in the future.”

Meshkat is just one of the programs that QSTP offers, as part of its key role in developing Qatar’s technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship ecosystem. To find out more about Meshkat and the full range of QSTP programs, visit: https://qstp.org.qa/meshkat/