Top UAE students crowned winners at NextGen10 final

Three UAE students have been crowned the winners of a year-long national competition that looked to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The 10 finalists, aged 11-14, of HSBC’s NextGen10 competition pitched their ideas to a panel of business leaders at the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020, with each winner receiving AED 25,000 from HSBC to help them turn their ideas into reality.

The winners were:

  • Maria Falaknaz, 13, from GEMS Wellington International School with her idea of a tech-enabled walking stick for the visually impaired.
  • Sreya Binesh, 12, from GEMS Millennium School Sharjah with her idea of a vertical gardening app.
  • Tanay Jagannathan, 13, from Dubai Modern High School with his idea for a CO2 absorbing drone.

Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO HSBC UAE and Head of International Markets, said: “All 10 finalists came up with brilliant and innovative ideas that will make a positive impact on our society. The three winners really impressed the judges with their presenting skills, clarity in explaining their ideas, and contextualizing them for a real world environment.

“Developing future skills is an important element of HSBC’s community outreach in the UAE. NextGen10 has been a wonderful platform to promote the importance of skills learning, critical thinking, and entrepreneurialism.”

HSBC launched NextGen10 in January 2021. The programme saw children aged 10-14 put forward competing ideas that have the potential to shape the future, while developing future skills in the process. Their proposals were required to fit into one of several categories including addressing climate change or how to create an equal and healthier society.

From over 300 successful entries, a final group of 10 students were shortlisted and received training and mentorship to help develop their ideas further from HSBC leaders and its training partner Debate Mate, before presenting their ideas live at the UK Pavilion, where HSBC is a founding partner.

UAE Next Generation survey 2021

As part of the entry process for the competition students contributed to a survey, which found that children in the UAE believe climate change is their biggest concern for the future and that it is up to their generation to fix the problem as adults do not take the future of the planet seriously enough.

HSBC’s UAE Next Generation survey 2021 found that 74% of 10-14 year olds questioned are concerned about the climate change challenges facing our planet, with 92% saying it is up to their generation to fix the planet, and 51% saying that adults do not take the future of the planet seriously.

Climate was ranked as the biggest concern of young people in the UAE ahead of other prominent issues including diversity and equality, bullying and cyberbullying, unemployment, and mental health and physical wellness.

Elsewhere in the survey, 56 per cent of students said making a positive impact on their community and society is what motivates them the most. And 42 per cent said the best thing about living in the UAE is its safety and tolerance, while 30 per cent chose having friends from all over the world.