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Story | Research
4 October 2019

TV review: New wave of Arab innovators take their first Stars of Science steps


Even the jury felt the pressure as 31 competitors were reduced to just eight on the latest episode of QF’s innovation TV show

With the first stage of the elimination process having come to an end, the contestants of Qatar Foundation’s innovation-focused TV show Stars of Science began the next phase of their journey - with the first step being to secure their ticket to Doha.

Of the 31 competitors who featured on tonight’s episode, just eight were chosen to work on prototypes of their projects in the Stars of Science lab, based at Qatar Science & Technology Park.

Despite the competitive and nerve-racking nature of the competition, the positive attitude of the innovators shone through. Jenan Al Shehab, the innovative engineer from Stars of Science season two and the guest speaker for this episode, introduced them by saying: “Failure is for the brave because cowards aren’t even trying from the first place.” And by the end of the episode, there were mixed reactions among the show’s team - from the excitement of preparing to welcome new inventors to Doha, to sadness over those who did not make it through.

The inventions that go forward to the second stage of Stars of Science Season 11 have a serious tone: dealing with problems across different aspects of life, from ‘smart’ shorts that help to prevent people from drowning to an early cancer detection device. At the beginning of the episode, the jury acknowledged the difficulty of the choice they were faced with, with judge Dr. Khalid Al-Ali telling candidates: "We tried hard to be fair with you."

The eight winners were selected according to three criteria outlined by jury member Professor Fouad Murad: “Modernity, scientific credibility, and project feasibility in two or three months.” Having set these three criteria in mind, the referees received the contestants in groups of three, and were then given an envelope with a plane ticket inside, with the fate of each competitor determined by the colors red and green - red indicating the end of an innovator’s Stars of Science journey, and green signalling that they would go forward to the next stage.

But the message was driven home to those saying their farewells to the show that not making it through doesn’t mean their projects were a failure. The jury certainly felt the pressure created by the process of selecting 8 people from 31, with Prof. Murad saying: "How can they be just eight?” But, in the end, there was a choice to be made, meaning many inventors go no further on Seasons 11 despite the originality and importance of their ideas.

However, there were also winners to celebrate in this episode, such as Abdullah Alghaitabi from Sudan who invented a medical bracelet to follow the psychological and physical conditions of women during the pregnancy period. From the real-life stories that follow the announcement of each winner to outline the importance of their invention and its feasibility, it’s already clear that Hassan’s idea chimes with an existing problem in society that many couples go through, backing up the decision of the judges.

Imadeddine Azzouz’ invention enables the early detection of cancer through a respirator mask, while other ideas that caught the eye in this episode included a smart prayer rug, devised by Qatari inventor Abdulrahman Saleh Khamis, and a device that peels Omani lemons – a staple of meals in the Gulf - by the inventor Anfal Al Hamdani, who returned to competition after a previous exit. These innovations are showing that the program is producing solutions that meet needs both locally and internationally

Meanwhile, Jordanian doctor Nuha Abu Yousef has also qualified with her project treatment to treat nerve palsy in the eye, and she’s been joined by Iraqi inventor Husam Sameer with his new system for the manufacture of bricks; Morocco’s Youssef El Azouzi, who’s developed a project for the treatment of congestive heart failure; and Mohamed Kharrat from Tunisia with his idea of anti-drowning pants. And, by qualifying for the next stage, they now have the confidence that not only are their ideas new, but they have the potential to be taken to reality.

It’s only the start, and time will tell how these the development of these inventions will unfold over the upcoming episodes, as the chosen inventors face the challenge of turning the hypothetical into the practical. One thing is for sure: there’s plenty of excitement ahead.

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