Palestinian teams bag first and third place, while the Canadian University in Dubai came in second

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, February 21, 2016 – The Coca-Cola Foundation and Injaz Al-Arab, organizers of the Ripples of Happiness program, today announced the winning teams of the eighth season that launched in November 2015.

The Ripples of Happiness program was originally started in 2012, in a bid to encourage entrepreneurism and tackle unemployment rates in the Middle East region, which is considered one of highest rates in the world. According to the International Labor Organization, youth unemployment is at 27.2 per cent in the Middle East, and 29 per cent in North Africa, which is more than double the global average.

The Ripples of Happiness program provides university students with training sessions and workshops aimed at developing their entrepreneurial and business management skills. The program also includes coaching sessions provided by volunteers from the private sector, on financial literacy and work readiness.

Over 300 student teams from 20 universities and across six countries in the Middle East, comprising UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, took part in the entrepreneurial challenge, with the opportunity to win grants totaling USD 22,000 provided by The Coca-Cola Foundation.

The Birzeit University in Palestine was the first place winner and was awarded a USD 10,000 grant to fund and scale their project. Titled ‘Melody of Happiness’, the project involves establishing a center specialized in teaching music to children in the city and surrounding villages.

The second place accolade was awarded to the Canadian University in Dubai from the United Arab Emirates. The ‘Efhamni’ project (which means “understand me” in Arabic) comprises developing a smart device application that enables communication with individuals with a hearing impairment.

'Efhamni' Team

Meanwhile, the Palestine Polytechnic University team came in third place. Titled ‘Autism Silent Energy, the project aims to raise the Palestinian community’s awareness about autism. The second and third place teams were awarded USD 7,000 and USD 5,000 respectively to finance their projects.

'Autism Silent Energy' Team

The winners were selected by a judging panel that included representatives from The Coca-Cola Company and Injaz Al Arab, in addition to CNN.

Commenting on the subject, Akef Al-Aqrabawi, CEO of INJAZ Al-Arab, stated “We are delighted with the level of innovation and creativity that the 8th cycle of the Ripples of Happiness program has witnessed, which reflects the region’s youth potential to excel if the right opportunity and mentorship is presented to them. That’s exactly what this program is geared at.”

Omar Bennis, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at The Coca-Cola Company Middle East, said, “At The Coca-Cola Company, we are deeply committed to empowering the region’s youth by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary for them to become the leaders of tomorrow. Since its inception in 2012, the Ripples of Happiness program has impacted the lives of over 2,600 university students and subsequently their communities and we are particularly impressed with the caliber of entries from this eighth cycle.”

Meanwhile, Caroline Faraj, CNN Vice-President of Arabic Services said: “Initiatives such as the Ripples of Happiness program play a big role in addressing one of the region’s biggest challenges, youth unemployment, by arming university students with essential skills and knowledge to empower them to be successful in the business world today.”

For more information about the winning projects in the eighth cycle of the Ripples of Happiness program, please visit the following:

 

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