DUBAI: On display at this year’s Dubai Design Week, set to run from Nov. 9-14, the inaugural MENA Grad Show supports impact-driven projects rooted in robust academic research.
The show is a diverse exhibition of student projects from across the Middle East and North Africa region and aims to “give innovators from MENA universities visibility on an international stage and to create exchange and professional development opportunities,” according to Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, the director if the Global Grad Show that usually goes on display during Dubai Design Week.
“The MENA Grad Show mirrors the Global Grad Show’s values and marks the launch of a platform dedicated to academic innovators from the region who are working to solve social and environmental issues,” Caravieri added.
With more than 200 applications from 36 universities tackling the improvement of complex social and economic problems, the selected 50 “demonstrate the student’s ability to understand the nuances of their surroundings, including cultural subtleties,” noted Caravieri. “In many cases, the creative process is permeated by elements pertaining to tradition and heritage, which shows the students care in bridging past, present and future, therefore producing innovation that is easily relatable and adoptable.”
With focus ranging from education to resources management and nutrition, Caravieri notes three key areas. Health, for example, sees Sohaila Alaa Eldin Ramadan from the German University in Cairo propose a toolkit for low-income families with children suffering diabetes that allows for easy blood glucose monitoring. Repurposing of waste, including food containers and natural textile dye made out of date seeds, is explored by Amal Hassan Alsuwaidi from the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation. The third area, he adds, is low-footprint production processes, explored in a project by Maadi Mosa Mohammed Asiri from King Khalid University in Saudi Arabia, who created fertilizers from the by-products of lithium manufacturing plants.
With urgent issues at hand, are young designers under further pressure to innovate?
“The complexity of issues such as COVID-19 certainly brings the realization that, more than ever, collaborative efforts are necessary. And indeed a number of online-based initiatives took place all around the world, bringing young minds together,” Caravieri said.