Mazyar Etehadi, a student of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, with his robot called A’seedbot, at Dubai Design Week at Dubai Design District on Monday Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: A tiny robot farmer to turn the desert green is among the creative projects by UAE-based students at Global Grad Show, part of Dubai Design Week being held at Dubai Design District till November 13.

Among the Global Grad Show initiatives is the MENA Grad Show. Launched in 2020, it showcases the top social impact innovations in the fields of science, design and architecture, by students from universities in the region.

This year’s physical exhibition feature 60 projects from 29 universities across 10 countries. Of the selected projects, 27 are from UAE-based universities.

Robot farmer

Mazyar Etehadi, a student of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, has built a robot called A’seedbot. It is his answer to the problem of desertification, the youngster said.

“A’seedbot is a small autonomous robot to inhabit the desert to cultivate its landscape. The robot is equipped with solar panels to charge during the day and navigate its way through the terrain at night, to identify fertile areas, report on them as well as plant seeds based on the data retrieved from its sensors and navigation system,” he explained.

Bread packaged in flour

Hind Rais, a graduate from Zayed University is showcasing the product ‘Beyond Bread’. It is a sustainable packaging for traditional breads to avoid the use of plastic.

Hind Rais with her project 'Beyong Bread' at Global Grad Show in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“Beyond Bread merges my passion for baking, graphic design, and innovation. As the world is paving its way towards a better, sustainable future, I thought to do my part by rethinking the packaging used by local bakeries. This design uses edible and biodegradable packaging made from bread ingredients [flour, water, and sugar] to provide a waste-less environment whereby the ingredients go through a closed loop of production and re- consumption. Once the package starts cracking, it can be used to feed birds.”

Arabic script made easy

Leen Albaz from American University of Sharjah has meanwhile come up with an online solution for Arabic language users who find it difficult to use Arabic script on multiple applications.

Leen Albaz explaining her creation called 'Typopath' at Global Grad Show in Dubai on Monday Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“Designers face difficulties obtaining certain typographical effects when working with the Arabic script. Therefore, I created this generative tool named Typopath to help Arab designers experiment with the script. The tool attempts to resolve the problem using a simplified interface and an online archive highlighting the reoccurring issues for experts to contribute in the design, computer science and creative coding community,” she said.

Beneficiary scheme for students

All applying students will have the chance to join Global Grad Show’s entrepreneurship programme this year, a four-month development route to bring venture-building opportunities to applicants who want to take their projects forward.

Since 2019, it has welcomed over 300 participants – a figure that has tripled for this year’s cohort alone.

A.R.M. Holding, the first Global Grad Show partner to pledge funds for startups from the programme (a $2.7 million fund over 10 years, launched in 2019), has recently renewed its commitment to support participants to advance their projects.

More on Dubai Design Week

Simultaneously, the Global Grad Show international showcase of 150 projects will also run online through an interactive digital exhibition on its website.

Interesting projects at Global Grad Show

  • An AI-enabled drug discovery system specialised in cardiovascular disease. (University of Cambridge, UK)
  • A ball that can detect sign of life in areas affected by natural disasters. (Zhejiang University, China)
  • An anti-greenwashing browser that blocks content from unsustainable brands. (Royal College of Art, UK)
  • A wireless sensory device to help premature babies bond with their parents. (University of Arts Linz, Austria)
  • An exoskeleton hand for stroke rehabilitation patients. (Santos Dumont Institute, Brazil)

‘Solving existing problems or preventing new ones’

Now in its seventh year, Global Grad Show is an initiative by the Art Dubai Group, held under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, that supports the world’s most promising academic talent in the field of social and environmental impact.

Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, director of Global Grad Show, said: “In the wide spectrum of what innovation means and does, Global Grad Show projects sit at a very distinct position: their primary objective is to create positive net results to the world, either by solving existing problems or preventing new ones.”

Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, director of Global Grad Show
Tadeu Baldani Caravieri, director of Global Grad Show Image Credit: Supplied

This year, the show received applications from graduates in 464 universities. The short-listed entries were selected amongst 2,600 submissions from 70 countries.