LEGO_Saeed Karmostaji -   Shaikha Alkaabi -  Urszula Bieganska-1629957546917
Saeed Karmostaji with Shaikha Alkaabi and Urszula Bieganska Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Lego launched a global initiative on Wednesday (August 25, 2021) called ‘Girls are Ready’, which aims to inspire more girls to take interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through play, at Dubai Astronomy Centre.

The speakers at the event included the UAE’s first woman astronaut Nora Al Matrooshi, and inventor Fatima Al Kaabi and her sister Shaikha. The women spoke about their own lives and why girls must be encouraged to do what they love.

Urszula Bieganska, Head of Marketing, Lego MEA, explained that the ‘Play Well Report’ reported that 78 per cent of parents globally say that they treat kids differently based on their gender and nearly 70 per cent prefers kids to play with toys ‘associated’ stereotypically for their gender. “It is very common that STEM-related play is more associated with boys,” she said. “In launching the ‘Girls Are Ready’ campaign, our aim is to not only encourage young girls to pursue their dreams, but to shine a light on what the world can do to support their journeys and achievements. While girls have always been ready, the world is still playing catch-up to their creative power,” she added.

Al Matrooshi, via a prerecorded message, told a story about a little girl with big dreams who told her parents about what she wanted to do in life. She said: “They told her, ‘you can be anything and you can go anywhere as long as you put your mind to it. If you believe you can do it, you can achieve it.’ So she believed, and her passion and her dedication guided her. She ignored the people who told her she couldn’t. Why? Because she believed in herself. And you know who that little girl is? That little girl is me and that little girl is you…So all you wonderful kids out there, I want to say, be you, be kind, aim for the stars and work towards making all your dreams come true.”

UAE’s youngest inventor sisters – 19-year-old Fatima, who has 12 inventions to her name – had a similar recorded message to share. She also spoke about the colourful rover – inspired by the Mars Rover and constructed from Lego bricks – that she and her sister, eight-year-old Shaikha, had made. It runs on solar power, has the ability to go over obstacles and even collect samples.

Shaikha went on to explain that the fun project, made with more than 800 Lego bricks, took more than two weeks to make. She was wearing a mini-astronaut suit with a patch that had three important characters sewed into her sleeve. They represent her, she told the audience, and what she loves: sport, technology and reading.

The mood in the room was cheerful, the message clear – it’s time for girls to reach for the stars.