UAE’s truly maiden interplanetary mission, The Hope Probe plays a meaningful role in national development. It sends across a strong message that in a community of different countries, UAE is second to none in harnessing technology. The nation is leveraging the technology for the betterment of humanity.
In every purview, the government is undertaking steps to disseminate knowledge and excitement of the Mars Mission through immersive education. To arouse the zest for space exploration in budding minds, the government, with VRXOne, is showcasing Virtual Reality trip to Mars in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and in regional schools.
The zeal for the Mars mission is an important key to unlock curiosity-driven learning in space exploration. It promotes innovation and research & development. While many ambitious students excel at their research to reach the Red Planet, they are upgrading their knowledge using VR. With the Classroom Format Virtual Reality Experience using VRXOne, the students and visitors have added access to widen their imagination about space.
Given the zeal and interest, the space centre is witnessing numerous applications from students majoring in science and engineering fields. By working in the company of expert scientists and using Virtual Reality to supplement their experiences, the students are playing a collaborative role in the mission. Moreover, with the localization of the major space work, many students, especially women are taking the lead in the operations.
The Hope Probe will reach the orbit of Mars in 2021, on the landmark 50th anniversary of the country.
Inside the Field Trip to Mars, with Virtual Reality
The programme is insightful for the students at the space centre and in schools. It provides in-depth knowledge and exposure about the Mars Mission. The VR Field Trip to Mars provides an effective touchpoint between the classroom and the space mission. When students experience a voyage to the red planet, they automatically strike conversations with their fellow learners. They discuss their experiences of the Martian landscape. Inside the field trip, the students view rocks and cliffs on the Mars surface, projected outwards towards the user. The graphics have real depth to enhance immersion.
The students cannot help but wonder – Can I be on Mars too?
By encouraging immersive learning programmes, the Emirates is ingraining the enthusiasm for science research and planetary exploration in upcoming generation.
These consistent efforts to ignite the spirit of exploration are welcome globally. Dr Jim Rice, Nasa geology team leader and co-investigator on the Nasa Mars Exploration Rover Project Science Team applauds UAE. He says
“I am impressed with the UAE’s commitment and its plans for space exploration in both the manned and unmanned sectors.”
“This project can be a very important stepping stone in humanity’s quest to move mankind off this planet and on to Mars, thereby making us a multi-planet species.”
A National Pursuit
The UAE will celebrate another fifty years of growth and prosperity.
The commemorative year will reflect on the milestones of the past and align the vision.
The Prime Minister of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid assures that the Mars mission carries the aspirations and dreams of the Arab world.
While flagging off the mission, he gave three important messages for its fruition.
“The first message is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and will play that role again; the second message is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible, and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge and the third message is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions, and you can reach even to space.”
The effort to reach the red planet is a collective national pursuit.
The Hope Mission is the UAE’s answer to the questions about the Red Planet that have long puzzled the scientists. The UAE prepares to shine brighter than gold on its golden jubilee.
Establishing themselves as a vibrant, progressive society, the Middle East has laid special emphasis on equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities. The leaders here understand that citizen participation and accountability in futuristic progress can be enhanced through a qualitative improvement in the education system. Consequently, the Middle East has become a flagbearer of innovation in education. Virtual Reality remains at the helm of these progressions, and it is being exhaustively deployed in schools.
Virtual Reality is also an active accomplice to spreading the UAE’s message for tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and cultural awareness. The country is celebrating 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance’. The Emiratis are showing the world how a progressive society like theirs, furthers a modern collaborative approach while staying in touch with its ethnicity.
In the last couple of years, many schools introduced VR to create a new learning environment alongside creating a culture of innovation and inquisitiveness. Educators switched to VR since it is an accessible way of involving the students in lessons while giving them access to the practical implementation of their learning. It has already been established that practical learning is the most effective method for student engagement. But the constraints of physical boundaries, investment, and resources limit its mainstreaming. This is where immersive learning techniques like Virtual Reality step up.
VR Journey to Explore The Cultures of The World
Interestingly, students and teachers are playing a vital role in this experience. Through VRXOne’s ongoing ‘Tolerance Program‘ the students are embarking on the discovery of enticing cultural experiences.
With expeditions to monuments that are a thousand years old like the Egyptian Pyramids, or to exploratory sites and museums at distant places, the students enrich themselves with inter-cultural wisdom. The virtual reality expeditions also allow students to empathize and experience how the kids in third world countries like Africa go to school and study. To establish friendlier relations within communities and strengthen the values of harmony, there are field trips through which students enjoy festivals of the world. It is such journey that make us believe that the world is one big family. Through these expeditions, students realize the importance of acting collectively and individually, with complete transparency, consistency and fairness.
Learn about Religions and Beliefs in VR
Festivities and celebrations bring individuals closer. It is a pure delight to be a part of unique ceremonies; streets and towns adorned with flags, pictures, banners, and decorations. The world today is moving towards establishing a tolerant, co-existing society and the Pope’s recent visit to the UAE is the one historic moment that has us propelled in the right direction. UAE is, indeed, an epitome of harmonious living where communities share their joys.
Emphasizing on the academic and cultural development of the students, His Excellency Hussein Al Hammadi (Minister of Education) said:
“The UAE is continuing to strengthen its foundation for future growth with new ways of learning, modernizing the way teachers share knowledge and skills while also enabling students to become competitive with positive values that will make them a force for good.”
Thanks to Virtual Reality, children of the Middle East are now also well-acquainted with unique rituals of the world and learn to respect their differences gracefully. From visualizing the fun and frolic of Diwali to being a part of the Halloween amusements, everything is near to reality. For the non-muslim users of Virtual Reality, it is now more accessible than ever to understand the Islamic faith and experience the festivals like Eid through immersive visuals.
Why Students Love VR – It Is Fun & Makes Them Confident
Schools of the region like GEMS education have incorporated Virtual Reality as an essential part of their classroom. One of the teachers from the school explains the effect it has on the students,
“When students come from a VR expedition, I see dramatic improvements in the way they perceive lessons. They have better clarity, more enthusiasm. Most of them display improvement in their test scores.”
For students, the VR class is a delightful time when they’re en route to their favorite voyage. When asked, a student from Dubai Scholars Private School explains his experience of using Virtual Reality.
“Virtual Reality makes me feel involved in the environment like I am a part of it. It’s like being featured in a game. I was struggling with concepts like the anatomy of the nervous system and muscular system. With Virtual Reality, it became easy to view these lessons.”, says a student of GEMS Wellington, Dubai.
As becomes conclusive, many students view VR as a game. And it is rightly so!
Virtual Reality is an improvised version of practical learning. Additionally, the fact that it is interactive and fun makes it all the more attractive to students. It is also much more accessible, scalable, immersive and affordable with a one-time investment.
Introducing Virtual Reality in regional schools has been a commendable transformation.
But there are some places where VR lessons are even more meaningful. These are the regions where people cannot afford a quality education. For many of these students, visiting places like Wonders of the World is a far-fetched dream.
The good news is that many of these students have realized this dream through Virtual Reality. While students of the region experienced VR Expeditions with the leading immersive learning program – VRXOne, many of the underprivileged students also tried their hands on the technology. Amongst these were some students who overcame the shackles of physical and mental disabilities to experience distraction-free learning.
While 2018 was an important period for maturation and mainstreaming of Virtual Reality in the classroom, 2019 is the year for greater strides.
She is an audacious female entrepreneur and an esteemed Manager of a visionary international communications network. She has scooped one of the highest regional accolades by being listed amongst Bahrain’s Most Influential Women. She is Fatema Ebrahim, a perfect example of bold female entrepreneurship.
Driven by a desire to create technology for convenience, Fatema created Valopay, a platform that helps send payment to any merchant online, anywhere. One of the industry’s leading voices, she is driven by curiosity and hard work and loves the evolutionary aspect of startup ecosystem. In a challenging business environment, she likes to put herself out in the market and come up with effective solutions.
Through concrete contributions in the diverse fields, Fatema Ebrahim continues to encourage women to achieve their full potential.
You had been heavily involved in the startup ecosystem, from as long as seven years. How do you think the environment for emerging businesses has evolved since then?
We’ve seen a lot of elements evolve and that is what’s exciting in the startup world, or I should say the ecosystem in general. We have better laws, public and governmental entities coming together and a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.
Bahrain has been fostering the startup culture by having entities like Tamkeen, The Fintech Bay Bahrain, Economic Development Board Bahrain and with the availability of numerous resources to start an idea and apply it in the region.
We have several accelerators, incubators, mentorship, and several large scale events for our startups to get out there and share their message.
From your expertise in the PR and with the emergence of Digital Marketing, do you think a PR manager’s responsibilities have grown?
Yes of course. We live in a world where content is so important and online content has to be transparent, authentic and speak to the masses in a short time. PR in a digital world is so much more expressive, visual and you have the room to communicate your vision in creative ways. I think it’s a fun time but also as PR Managers, it becomes your great responsibility to know how to market yourself, your idea, in a way that it benefits people and also speaks to them.
How do you connect to them through online content? That’s the question to answer.
What led to the conception of Valopay?
I had just moved to Bahrain and realised a gap in payments since I was using multiple applications in the USA which I couldn’t have here. In addition, I knew that Fitnech was coming and the best way to learn was to start something from scratch and apply it.
Specifically about Valopay, I had several friends and family that used to run Instagram businesses in addition to their full time job. They had a driver to collect cash payments and manually run their business. I wanted to make that easier. I created a system that creates a unique code for each product. If people entered a code on the website for a certain product – they click, enter details and pay! Plus the system stored all the products and gave an analysis to the seller about what items were bought, in what amount and had all the buyer details.
What natural benefits do you think Bahrain has in being MENA region’s FinTech hub?
Bahrain’s natural benefits starts with it being a major financial hub in the Middle East. The financial industry here is innovative and our major banks now have Fintech and innovation counterparts that work on coming up with digitization solutions and simply coming up with ways to make banking easier and effective. Several elements I’d like to list:
We have the Bahrain Fintech Bay – a leading Fintech Hub in the Middle East & Africa. It’s a major financial technology hub that has several partnerships with banks, corporates, Government bodies, FinTechs and universities. The focus is on both individual development and collaboration, accelerating local early stage companies to the next growth stage of commercialization and expedite partnership opportunities.
The Central Bank of Bahrain launched the Sandbox that will allow startups and fintech firms to test and experiment their banking ideas and solutions. The creation of the regulatory sandbox provides an opportunity for fintech businesses around the world to expand and thrive in the Gulf and strengthen Bahrain’s position as a fintech and financial services hub in the GCC.
What is your foresight for the future of Fintech sector in the region?
I believe we will have more Fintech Solutions within the region focused on AI, Big Data, Blockchain etc. There will be increased Fintech awareness in terms of education and increased partnerships with global institutions. Next, we will soon see more women in the region involved within Fintech as part of the Women in Fintech Initiative in Bahrain.
The aforementioned transitions may take some time but a shift in mindset where we have digital solutions will become the norm and we will move distant from cash dominance.
The concept of ‘Yalla Banat – Women in the Driver’s Seat’ is very important and relevant to women empowerment. What was the highlight of this event? Tell us more about it.
Yalla Banat was an initiative to celebrate women. We wanted to have a fun family festival where the main element would be the ‘largest all women parade’ in the MENA region. It’s an element of celebration, fun and sharing experience.
The festival started with a televised Roundtable discussion panel with 10 very successful women & men from across the GCC sharing their “road to success”. The panel included two discussions – “Women winning in sports” & “Women working in workplace”
We had about 400 cars register to be a part of the parade when we had a cap of 250 cars; it was amazing to see the support. The event hosted the 1st Bahraini Motor Show Competition that included 40+Super/Hypercards, Classic Cars, Road cars, Motorbikes and Scooters.
It was super exciting to be on the track. We had about 430 people cheering just on the track during the parade. We passed our KPIs by getting 2,800 people attend this first-time event. The team was truly amazed at the response.
The parade included 9 INFINITI Bahrain cars to support Yalla Banat as the Exclusive Automotive Sponsor of Yalla Banat. In addition, INFINITI Bahrain showcased the all-new QX50 2019 at the event which was launched recently in Bahrain.
It was the first initiative in Bahrain to be showcased on the NASDAQ Times Square Billboard and surely a memorable one.
You have been named amongst Bahrain’s Most Influential Women. What was the key driving force that helped you reach so far?
I believe it is because of one defining characteristic more than this particular achievement. It is because I went out there and tried. I put myself out there and tried to find a solution, learn as much as I can and started getting involved within the startup ecosystem in Bahrain, regardless of the notion of success.
I’ve worked for a startup in New York and that was the first time I put my foot in this environment. I gradually became curious to start on my own as I think curiosity and hard work is a good mix. From there, I built a business, conducted a case study and after that, I made a transition gathering all the lessons learned. I decided to help other startups in being a part of the initiative and took up projects that supported the ecosystem.
In my opinion, everyone is an entrepreneur in their own way – the word isn’t just related to you if you’re a founder.
You’re an entrepreneur if you try new things, start new things and most importantly, learn and persevere whether you’re in a corporate or a startup.
Many companies are emerging with the concept of e-wallets. What challenges do you think they must address to truly provide a gainful experience?
There will always be challenges when a new concept or transition is being introduced. Not just for the financial market, but for any new business in general, one needs to understand few requisites to crack the deal. These include:
- Understanding how one should move from a traditional setting to a technological setting – We need to understand how people make that shift and ask them so we can guide them through the innovational journey
- Educating people on the benefits in a way they understand – Our services must propose a method of lesser hassle, lesser time while including convenience factors
- Ensuring security – A lot of people think of the threats and the negative aspects usually as a first reaction, so, communicating the safety measures related to the product or service is important
- Making people understand that this is the future and we are all shifting towards that to live better – Having campaigns to evolve all ages and address all gaps is imperative because not everyone transitions the same
Tell us about a recent project or achievement that has made you proud.
There are several events I’m proud about! This year has been an explosion of great initiatives happening.
I’m happy to be part of the WIFBH “Women in Fintech Bahrain” Board this year where I shall promote and include more women in Fintech. We have already supported and been part of several events.
Additionally, I am elated at being a part of the Economic Development Board Bahrain this year where I was appointed on February – makes me feel like I can do so much more while witnessing the change.
Planning and supporting Yalla Banat for the past several months has been another exhilarating journey and to see it being showcased on the NASDAQ billboard in Times Square was a dream-come-true moment.
Being a female founder, what is your advice to other women who want to start up their own companies?
I founded Valopay in 2015 and decided to transition to supporting startups than running my own. It is really hard to admit this but I want people to try and start with new things. I want them to go out there and try and maybe, some will be successful, some will realise other potentials and some will hate it and go back to their comfort zone – that is not failure, but it is crossing your borders and putting yourself out there, because, where you find your skills and yourself is where you will change a part of the world.
I wanted to learn so I plunged into it and came out of it with valuable lessons I wouldn’t have gotten if I didn’t. My advice is to stop thinking so much about the consequences, people, fears but just start and see where it takes you – you will learn so much, you will meet amazing people and you will have a journey that is unique to you. Success comes in several layers, don’t confine its meaning to other people’s definition.
At a young age, she has bagged laurels and already inspired budding entrepreneurs around the world through her feature in ‘Dear Female Founder’. Bryony Cooper is a serial entrepreneur who has founded 3 companies and is now leading the charge as Head of IoT Program at Brinc.io, the world’s first end-to-end integrated platform designed for IoT entrepreneurs. She presently sits in the investment committee at Brinc and will soon be moving to the European leg of the branch with an exciting new opportunity.
Having a way with words, Bryony is deeply involved and extremely talented in mentoring early-stage startups. With the start-up culture deeply engraved in her experience, she has been a quality contributor to several panel discussions and committees like Web Summit, MWC (4YFN), UNIT, Meet ICT, German Trade & Invest
What inspired you to join Brinc.io?
I’m a former tech startup founder myself, and I wanted to continue working in the startup ecosystem in a role where I could share my learnings and experiences. Around 1.5 years ago, one of the Brinc founders, Bay McLaughlin, gave a talk at my workplace; he was so passionate and enthusiastic, that I had to check this company out!
It turns out that Brinc is an ideal platform for me to connect with inspiring entrep