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Winners of King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement honored at WEF

Jordan: Monday, May 18 - 2009 @ 11:47

His Majesty King Abdullah II presented four winners with awards in recognition of the innovative projects they have implemented to benefit their communities.

The four winners, selected from over 500 entries received from across the Arab World, will each receive a grant to expand the scope and impact of their work, and to support complementary training and capacity building opportunities.

The Winners are:

1. Abdelkareem Bedri
- “Speaking Gloves: Arabic Deaf Sign Language”, Sudan, Age 22

‘Helping the deaf be heard’ is Abdelkareem’s way of making a difference in people’s lives. Through the development of a microcontroller based system to translate Arabic sign language to an audible voice, this project will help the hearing impaired be more productive in the community through easing their communication with hale persons.

“Speaking Gloves: Arabic Deaf Sign Language” is a glove based input interface, whereby the hearing impaired can be heard by performing sign language. The glove fits onto the hand of a deaf individual and contains sensors that transmit information to a microcontroller as the wearer moves his or her hand to sign, which then activates a small speaker.

The project is expected to result in two main outcomes: increasing learning and the performance of deaf students in target institutes and schools, and increasing employment for the hearing impaired.

2. Lana Hijazi
- “Souktel”, Palestine, Age 27

Lana wanted to make the quest for finding a job much easier for all youth, therefore in 2007 she grouped with Palestinian and Canadian youth to kick start “Souktel”, a mobile based service linking job seekers and employers together.

“Souktel” began full operation in Palestine in 2008, where more than 8,000 job seekers and 200 employers have accessed its job-matching service. “Souktel” operates as a social enterprise— job seekers pay a modest fee to search job ads or post their mini-CVs and employers pay a higher per transaction fee to post jobs and search CVs.

“Souktel” earns an average of $1/month per job seeker and an average of $10/month per employer, resulting in a current net income of about $10,000/month – enough to cover its operating costs, with surplus revenue directed at market expansion and research and development.

3. Rabee’ Zureikat
- “Zikra”, Jordan, Age 29

Rabee’ has always been fond of exploring the history of Jordan and learning about the diversity of its people. His passion lead him to the rural community of Ghor Al Mazra region.

Rabee’ launched the “Zikra” initiative to promote greater equality through facilitating cultural exchanges and improving livelihoods. “Zikra” works to achieve this goal through a multi-faceted approach that includes voluntourism, a micro loan program, entrepreneurship and skills training, and arts workshops.

To date, more than 1,000 volunteers have supported “Zikra’s” approach, generating over $15,000. With these funds, “Zikra” has provided microloans to 15 families to develop businesses ranging from handicraft production to beekeeping.

4. Raghda El Ebrashy
- “Alashanek Ya Balady Association for Sustainable Development”, Egypt, Age 26

Raghda is the founder and chairperson of “Alashanek Ya Balady Association for Sustainable Development” (AYB-SD), a registered NGO in Old Cairo with five branches in various universities across Egypt.

AYB-SD focuses its efforts on addressing the needs of youth and women in Old Cairo by nurturing a spirit of volunteerism, while promoting sustainable models of development. Graduates of its vocational training program are offered formal employment opportunities through AYB-SD’s employment office or microloans to start their own businesses.

AYB-SD sustains it work through the talented volunteer base it attracts and the three social ventures it launched that generate revenue for its activities through providing technical training to students and employees; producing and selling high quality, handmade products; and offering graphic design and arts workshops. In 2008 alone, “AYB-SD” reached more than 2,000 low-income youth and women through its programs.

Mr. Tarik Awad, Director-General of KAFD, stated:

“With the announcement of the winners of the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement, we are celebrating the incredible potential and innovative spirit that young people throughout our region possess, whilst also recognizing the important and significant role that youth play throughout the Arab world, and beyond, in positively contributing to sustainable development and the betterment of society as a whole.”

Mr. Awad went on to say, “All 10 finalists are distinguished for the positive impact they’re bringing forth in their communities. The selection process was not easy. The winners that were selected embody everything that a young active citizen should be– They are innovative, determined, passionate and committed to contributing positively to their communities. We are very proud and grateful for all the finalists’ efforts and hope that they will be an inspiration to youth throughout the world.”

The King Abdullah II Fund for Development, which is the entity managing the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement, selected ten finalists from more than 500 Arab youth who applied for the Award.

In addition to the four winners, the finalists included: Abdinasir Nur from Somalia, Motaz Gendia from Egypt, Nadia Al Ghadiri from Kuwait, Pierre Daher from Lebanon, Rawan Abu Al Failat from Jordan and Yorgui Teyrouz from Lebanon. The finalists’ profiles are available on the Award website.

In April 2009, the finalists were interviewed in Amman by a distinguished panel of five assessors from the Arab World, including: Mr. Fadi Ghandour from Jordan, Founder & CEO of Aramex International, Dr. Iman Bibars from Egypt, Regional Director of Ashoka – Arab World, Mr. Nabil Alyousuf from the United Arab Emirates, Vice Chairman of the Dubai School of Government, Dr. Suhair Al-Qurashi from Saudi Arabia, Dean of Dar Al-Hekma College and Mr. Ziad Haddara from Lebanon, Regional Manager of ICTDAR, UNDP.

The King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement was launched by His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in 2007 with the aim to recognize conscious youth citizens across the region that are engaged in exemplary activities related to Active Citizenship.

The award strives to enhance the culture of research and development to increase the impact of change in community led development, generate best practices and encourage cross-border cooperation and dialogue.

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Monday, May 18- 2009 @ 11:47 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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