Dubai is well known for its impressive combination of architectural landmarks, engineering marvels and super sports cars. But there is also vibrant community of makers growing among the luxury city. And they just got all together in the first Maker Faire event in the UAE: Dubai Mini Maker Faire. A celebration of making that gathered the ecosystem of UAE makers, artists and designers together.
The event was organized by Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance with an army of 72 volunteers. Hamdan Award is an organization focused towards educational excellence and talent cultivation through the best national and international programs. Aiming constructive competition and cooperation, which contributes to building a distinguished academic society.
From Thursday 22nd till Sunday 25th of February more than a thousand visitors attended the Mini Maker Faire that hosted 51 project exhibitions, 19 workshops and hands on activities and 15 talks. Dubai Mini Maker Faire was inaugurated by H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education of the UAE and covered by the Dubai TV channel, and national newspapers AlBayan, Alittihad and AlKhaleej.
The event counted with the support of all the UAE ecosystem: FabLab UAE, OriginBase, Techshop, Emirates Science Club and Al Noor Center as well as many passionate individual local makers. But also international makers participated in the event, coming from Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Italy, Spain and New Zealand.
Almaha Almuhairi presented FreshFridge, a fridge reconverted into a micro herb food production aiming extreme climate environments and space missions. Heritage artisans Salem Mohamed and Salem Nassir were fabricating traditional baskets and ropes. Jalal Ibrahim, an arabic calligraphy artist, was delighting the visitors with his writing skills. Saad, a 14 years old maker, created a massager using sand fluidification principle. His friend Tareak created a joke teller. Ahmed Abdullah Mohammad showed a helper robot for disabled people operated with a tablet app. Students from Higher Colleges of Technology leaded by Noora AlAmeri developed in Fab Lab UAE a smart device for finding free parking spots in the university. Francisco Sanchez from Spain was being helped by some volunteers to assemble an open source mechanical display that resembles the old train stations. Ilaria La Manna from Italy was running the Emosilla workshop, a wooden chair that kids can assemble and paint to express their emotions. And the whole community were completing a collaborative art Lego Wall. Those were just some of all what happened during Dubai Mini Maker Faire.
During the event, FabLab UAE unveiled the Dubaino installation: the world’s biggest fully functional Arduino clone. A 50x scaled up arduino, breadboard, LED, push button, servo motor, LDR and potentiometer created by FabLab UAE community in cooperation with italian maker Fiore Basile from Italy. The goal of this installation is helping kids and teens to get more familiar with microcontrollers and electronics by providing a comfortable playground where is it possible to experiment having fun at the same time. This makes it possible to develop different educational activities around the installation, including electronics workshops and interactive learning sessions. Another featured installation was the virtual Fablab. A VR installation with a virtual fablab that allows anyone, anywhere to experience the workflows and processes used in digital fabrication.
Dubai Mini Maker Faire included international speakers sharing their experiences and inspiring the community. There was Wendy Neale from New Zealand, talking about collaborative design and women empowerment. Ilaria La Manna from Italy talking about the Fab Latin American Kids Network. Francisco Sanchez from Spain explaining his travel adventures while setting up labs in the most remote places around the world. Mohammed Buallay came from Bahrain to talk about how artificial intelligence is shaping our world. Ahmed Al Saleh, organizer of Maker Faire Kuwait, talked about technology in education. And Eng. Saud Khalfan Al Shuaily explained 3D printing experiences in Oman.
2018 is the year of Zayed in the UAE, that marks 100 years since the birth of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE. His spirit and values were very related to cooperation and bringing people together, which the maker community share. So the last three days of the event, 26yh, 27th and 28th the event turned into the Zayed Hackathon, where the local community of makers were attempting in teams to fabricate a prototype for a solution to common problems that were ideated by a young innovators contest. The challenge: bring their ideas into reality. There were six challenges: Fabricating a marine waste collector, a bracelet that alerts parents if their child are drowning, a smart parking spot for disabled people, a traffic sign for kids slide, an animal feeder for the desert and a praying mat for blind people.
Each one of the six participating teams took a challenge mentored by the FabLab UAE experts. The hackathon was very competitive. The teams came to prototypes after 48 long hours of sleepless research, learning, cooperation and fabrication. A jury composed by a member of the Hamdan Award, Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality and DEWA (Dubai Energy and Water Authority) evaluated the results and announced the first, second and third prize awarded with 20000, 10000 and 5000 AED cash prizes respectively.
None of the above would have been possible without the hard work that the core leadership team was doing behind the scenes: Marwa Sahwari, Francisco Sánchez, Hana Alhammadi, Mouaz Ali, Hashim Alsakkaf, Ahmed Nagib, Ahmed Jalal, Waleed Alhamdi, Abdullah Alqadha and Wendy Neale. It was an exhausting but rewarding experience that they will all keep in their hearts.
The organization and the maker community are so excited with the results of this venture that they already started to plan the next event in 2019. This time a featured full Maker Faire Dubai. With more makers, and strengthening the relationships in the region. Stay tuned makers of the World for the next big making celebration!