Dubai: Seven-time Grammy Award winning musician and education advocate performed live at the opening ceremony of the 2019 FIRST Global DXB Challenge on Thursday.

The global gathering of creative young minds in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), kicked off on Thursday at the Festival Arena in Dubai with the participation of more than 1,500 youth from over 191 countries.

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, inaugurated the challenge. “We remain steadfast in our journey of equipping talent with vital skills and tools and supporting creative minds in developing solutions that can help improve people’s lives,” Shaikh Hamdan said. sent out a strong message to young participants at the event about the power of education in transforming lives and shaping the future. Apart from being an international music icon, is also a tech enthusiast who is strongly committed to encouraging youth to pursue their education in science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM).

“It’s an exciting time to be in Dubai to celebrate excellence in technology and the achievements of the world’s most motivated, smartest young people who are part of the FIRST Global robotics community,” commented, tech entrepreneur and President, Foundation. “While every school has a football pitch, very few students will ever become professional athletes. In contrast, every school, in every country should have a FIRST robotics programme so that every student can become a tech star and an active member of the digital economy,” added.

Transforming lives

The American musician has used his Foundation, launched in 2009, to transform lives through education, inspiration and opportunity. The foundation administers charitable activities and programmes targeted at providing college scholarships, college preparation, and opportunities in STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) to underserved students. has also been strongly focused on supporting STEAM skill building activities for young people by working with several organisations including FIRST Robotics, which organises international high school robotics competitions that give students real-world engineering experience. He has been a supporter of many seasons of the FIRST Robotics Competition and used it as a platform to spread awareness about the importance of STEM education. During the FIRST Robotics competition in 2015, visited Ferguson, Missouri, where he interacted with underserved high school students and spoke to them about the benefits of STEM knowledge and the importance of studying maths and science. As part of his mission to promote STEM education in Ferguson, and his foundation contributed funds to launch a Robotics team during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Seeking to reach the widest number of youth, executive produced an educational TV special “ Reach For The Stars”, which took a behind-the-scenes look at the artistic and scientific elements involved in sending a song to Mars. The song, which was a project in collaboration with NASA’s Curiosity Mars Space Lab, made the first recording artist to send a song to Mars. In 2011, he executive produced and starred in his first prime time TV special “ FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll” to get young people excited about maths and science education, as well as technology and science-related careers.

His commitment to philanthropy and funding foundation programmes has seen him hosting the TRANS4M Benefit during the Grammy Week. The annual initiative aims to ignite collaborative efforts among businesses, non-profits, and government leaders to transform underserved communities.

Additionally, as a tech entrepreneur, investor and creative innovator, became the founder and CEO of I.AM+, a company fusing the worlds of artificial intelligence (AI) for enterprise, as well as smarter consumer products.

Being held outside the Americas for the first time, the FIRST Global DXB Challenge, organised by the Dubai Future Foundation from 24-27 October under the theme ‘Ocean Opportunities’, focuses on developing robots to clean ocean pollution.

The UAE won the bid to host the FIRST Global Challenge at the 7th World Government Summit in Dubai last February in the presence of Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, Chairman of the World Government Summit, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Managing Director of the Dubai Future Foundation.