Arab world’s young innovators make their pitches at Dubai tech event

Arab world’s young innovators make their pitches at Dubai tech event
The first batch of innovators presented a three-minute elevator pitch for a chance to be named a winner during the award ceremony. (Supplied)
Updated 05 November 2019

Arab world’s young innovators make their pitches at Dubai tech event

Arab world’s young innovators make their pitches at Dubai tech event
  • Participants presented three-minute pitches in bid to be named a winner at Emtech
  • Competition received over 4,500 entries, of which 20 were selected for the final stage

DUBAI: The first day of EmTech MENA, a tech event that focuses on emerging technological trends, hosted two sessions featuring young innovators from across the region competing in the second edition of the “Innovators Under 35.”

The first batch of innovators presented a three-minute elevator pitch for a chance to be named a winner during the award ceremony on the second day of the conference.

This year, the competition received over 4,500 entries, out of which 20 technologists and scientists were selected for the final stage.

Among the nominees is Saudi Arabia-based Dr Babar Khan, who works at a startup called Qualsen that spun out of KAUST University in Thuwal.

Speaking to Arab News, Khan said Saudi Arabia along with most countries in the region obtain more than 50 percent of their water through desalinization of sea water.

In this process, water is taken from the sea, which contains various bacteria, and filtered in order to produce drinking water. “This filtration process is often clogged with bacteria and befouled," he said.

“What our technology does is detect how much bacteria is there so that operators can clean it out before it becomes a problem and affects the whole system.”

As fresh water supplies dwindle across many parts of the world, Khan says, it is imperative that advanced desalination technology is used at a lower cost.

“If we can reduce the cost of filtration clean-up, then we can reduce the cost of water coming out of desalination and that makes it a lucrative market for the region as well as many other parts of the world, such as California, which frequently suffers from droughts,” said Khan.

Another innovator at the event, Kuwaiti Ahmed Nabil, shared his invention of a surgical optic enhancement technology that aims to make operations shorter, smoother and safer.

Nabil’s new technology can be added to a laparoscope, the camera used in surgery to view the anatomical structure inside the abdomen, to ensure that lens remains clean throughout the procedure.

“This technology solves a basic but very damaging problem that takes place very frequently during surgery where the camera lens gets clogged with blood, fatty material, debris and fog,” said Nabil.

Currently, physicians manually clean the laparoscope by retracting it repeatedly and wiping it.

“This has been the way to clean the lens since the laparoscope was invented over a century ago," Nabil said.

“This new add-on device delivers carefully calculated bursts of fluid onto the lens. Any leftover droplets attached to the scope are then dried off instantly.”

The device also controls the temperature of the fluid used to ensure the removal of stubborn material during surgeries.

Nabil, who is a physician, said he began thinking of a solution after witnessing a patient suffer accidental bleeding when the lapascope was repeatedly removed for manual cleaning.

“The patient lost a significant amount of blood that day, and I started thinking of ways to automate the cleaning process,” he said.

The second day of EmTech will host another batch of selected innovators, who will discuss their work in a wide range of fields, notably biomedicine, computing, communications, energy, materials, software, transportation and the internet.

Organized by “MIT Technology Review” since 1999, the “Innovators Under 35” competition has honored such brilliant minds as Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; Tesla’s JB Straubel; Spotify’s Daniel Ek; and Broad Institute’s Feng Zhang.

The competition’s first edition in 2018 picked 10 winners from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Syria.