QF graduate Maryam Al-Naemi’s Education City experience led to startups, service, and self-discovery
From setting up a new initiative designed to help Qatar’s community, to playing her part in creating a new tech startup from scratch in just 10 days, a Qatar Foundation graduate has spoken of how Education City has changed her life.
Maryam Al-Naemi is a alumna of from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university, who took home second place in the university’s Quick Startup program in 2017, as well as third place in the inaugural Arab Innovation Academy (AIA) – organized by Qatar Science & Technology Park in partnership with the European Innovation Academy – in 2018.
As a student, I was constantly encouraged to seek knowledge from various disciplines beyond my own
And her QF experience also led to Al-Naemi being awarded a gold medal from His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir of Qatar, at the 12th Education Excellence Day Award ceremony in 2019.
“Being part of CMU-Q’s Class of 2018 was a defining moment in my life,” says Al-Naemi. “As a student, I was constantly encouraged to seek knowledge from various disciplines beyond my own, and the skills I gained at university helped me become more innovative and technology-focused when trying to find solutions to some of the challenges of today.”
While I was at university, Education City’s unique environment inspired me to create a community and service-based club called ‘Helping Hands’. And as head of the Qatar Student Association, and through my passion for event organization – and coffee – I created ‘Kaffeinated’, which is an event planning company with a focus on a coffee-based festival.
During the inaugural edition of the AIA, Al-Naemi and her team created Xpress Food Supply – an online platform designed to bring restaurants and food suppliers together – and as well as winning second place, they also received special recognition for the project.
I learned a lot from my experience at AIA through inspiring global experts and mentors
The AIA – a two-week entrepreneurship bootcamp at QSTP, which is part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation, aims to provide participants with the skills and tools to develop and launch a tech startup. Its third edition will take place in January 2020.
“I learned a lot from my experience at AIA through inspiring global experts and mentors who trained us on topics like innovative thinking and entrepreneurship,” Al-Naemi says. “It was a wonderful experience that also enhanced my personal skills and helped me discover my own goals in life, which I believe can be accomplished through perseverance and confidence.”
Through QSTP, Al-Naemi was also given the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley in California, where she met experts from global tech-companies like Google and YouTube, networked with other students from all over the world, and attended a conference at Stanford University.
Following her involvement in Quick Startup and the AIA, Al-Naemi – alongside a team of CMU-Q alumni and students – went on to represent Qatar at the Injaz AlArab competition in Kuwait, winning the MetLife Innovation Award.
And, as an aspiring entrepreneur, she believes that today’s youth – especially in Qatar – are passionate individuals who believe in change and have a strong desire to play an active role in their community.
“They have full potential to innovate, think, and accomplish what they want,” she says. “Thankfully, they also have a support system from the country, and its infrastructure, that enables them to accomplish their dreams, creating a new generation of leaders and influencers who play a vital role locally and internationally.”