27 October 2008

Rolex Awards for Enterprise and Higher Colleges of Technology announce Rolex Middle East Forum focused on regional themes

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology and Rebecca Irvin, Director the Rolex Awards for Enterprise signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering a series of activities between the two organizations.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan will be the patron and opening speaker of The Rolex Middle East Forum - “Encouraging Innovation for the Next Generation” - is a high-level public event developed by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in association with the Higher Colleges of Technology. The day-long forum, to be held at the Madinat Theatre at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, comprises three panel sessions focused on subjects of importance to the region: the state of science and innovation in the MENA region, the preservation of cultural heritage and the natural environment, and the role and potential of Arab women.

The 2008 Rolex Awards for Enterprise are being held in the Middle East under the patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The Rolex Middle East Forum will feature nine international experts from diverse disciplines and nine of their counterparts from across the UAE and the region, and moderators Hala Gorani, of CNN International, and celebrated media personality Georges Kordahi. World-renowned heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, pioneering NASA astronaut Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, and former Ecuadorian environment minister Yolanda Kakabadse are among the distinguished panelists confirmed.

Dr. Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the UAE Higher Colleges of Technology and Group Chief Executive of the Centre for Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT), is among the regional panelists confirmed for the forum. Other regional speakers include Sayyid Sulaiman Mohammed Al Busaidi, Adviser to the Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs, Government of Oman, and Abdul Aziz Al Midfa, Director General, Environment and Protected Areas, Government of Sharjah.

Rebecca Irvin, Director of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, based in Geneva, Switzerland, said: “Rolex is convening this special high-level forum in the UAE because we believe in the region’s potential for innovation and enterprise, and respect its commitment to improving life on our planet. Through the forum, we hope to offer a platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences, valuable dialogue and relationship-building.

“The UAE is an outstanding example of the steady socio-political progress being made in the Gulf countries, progress that we feel the rest of the world should know more about,” she added. “We are particularly confident in the abilities of this region’s young men and women, and hope to contribute to broadening their horizons in this way. Our growing relationship with the UAE Higher Colleges of Technology is a vital step in achieving these goals.”

Irvin thanked His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan for his support of the Rolex Forum, and noted his commitment to the nation’s future generations.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology said "HCT is indeed excited about this agreement with Rolex Awards. Together, we plan to develop interest in the region about innovation and out-of-the box initiatives by individual. Our students will have the benefit of interacting with international innovators recognized as Rolex laureates." “This will be another example of working with all divisions of the community to achieve our goals of providing quality culture and environment for our students and our 16 campuses. We are very glad to sign such and MOU with Rolex Awards today”

The Rolex Middle East Forum will be the culmination of a series of UAE events being planned around the official 2008 Rolex Awards for Enterprise ceremony that will take place in Dubai on November 18, 2008. The private gathering, traditionally held in Geneva and world capitals, including New York, Singapore, Paris and Tokyo, is being held in the Middle East for the first time.

For the past three decades, the Rolex Awards have assisted men and women around the world who are quietly advancing human knowledge and well-being through pioneering work in five broad areas: science and medicine, technology and innovation, exploration and discovery, the environment, and cultural heritage.

Each of the five Rolex Awards Laureates named at next month’s Dubai ceremony will receive US$100,000 and a specially inscribed gold Rolex chronometer, in addition to international publicity for his or her project. Five runners-up, the Associate Laureates, will each receive US$50,000, as well as a steel-and-gold Rolex chronometer. The monetary prizes must be used to implement or complete the pioneering projects.

The Awards typically receive between 1,500 and 2,000 entries from more than 100 countries per series; the Middle East and North Africa nations have historically yielded the fewest applicants. This year, Irvin explained, Rolex received 138 applications from 16 countries across the Gulf, Levant and North Africa, a 294 per cent increase over previous cycles, following a sustained outreach campaign across the region.

Although the 2008 Laureates and Associate Laureates will only be revealed at the Awards ceremony next month, 44 projects from around the world were identified as making the international shortlist. Six of those projects are from the MENA region, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

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