For the first time in Doha, twelve scientists from Qatar pitched their projects at the world’s largest science communications competition, FameLab 2016 . The global initiative gave participants with a passion for public engagement just three minutes to present a project of their choice.

A British Council initiative, in partnership with The Times Cheltenham Science Festival and Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), the event was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Qatar University (QU) and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU).

More than 65 students, 45 teachers and 55 researchers applied to take part in the augural event. Divided into two categories, 12 participants made it through to the national final, which was held at HBKU’s Student Center in Education City.

After each contestant delivered their presentation before an audience and a panel of judges, Aida Ra’fat was awarded first place in the ‘Aspiring Scientists’ category, and Ro’aa Adel was the overall winner of the ‘Young Scientists’ contest.

Dr Abdul Sattar Al Taie, Executive Director of QNRF said:

FameLab Qatar – in its first cycle – has proven to be an innovative platform for enabling young scientists, high school students, teachers and engineers in Qatar to share their passion for science, technology, engineering and maths with the public.’

He concluded:

We are very proud of the winners, and would like to invite high school students and STEM teachers, as well as scientists and professionals, to participate in this engaging competition in the coming years in order to help achieve the Qatar National Vision 2030.’

Aida Ra’fat will now go on to take part in the international FameLab final held at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival in June. Ro’aa Adel will participate in the finals at the London International Science Youth Forum (LIYSF), where she will meet with other young scientists from all around the world.

Aida said:

I was really excited when I got through because I was given the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people that are working in the same industry. The majority of them are researchers, so it has been a very inspiring experience. It has been a little stressful, but that’s normal. I really enjoyed it.’

The ‘Young Scientists’ winner, 16-year old high-school student Ro’aa Adel, believes that her innovative contributions in the areas of science and medicine will make the world a better place.

Frank Fitzpatrick, Country Director, British Council, Qatar said:

I am very pleased about the positive response that FameLab 2016 has had here in Qatar. It is the first time that we have staged this tried and tested British Council competition in any Gulf country. The success that we have had is the fruit of an outstanding collaboration with our strategic partner, Qatar National Research Fund, and our delivery partners, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and Qatar University.’

He concluded:

Being able to talk about science, explain science and make science relevant to young people, and to engage their interest, is an ability and skill that is so important in order to ensure the commitment and success of the next generation of young scientists. I am sure that this will enhance knowledge, trust and understanding between the UK and Qatar.’

The international competition has been hosted in more than 40 countries since its launch in 2007, and it aims to find and mentor the new voices of science from across the world and engage the public with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, otherwise known as STEM.

Competitions like FameLab 2016 play a key role in incubating an interest in science amongst the broader community. By taking part, budding scientists with a flair for communication can pick up the skills they need to improve the public’s understanding of science and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

More information about how to enter Famelab can be found on britishcouncil.qa/en/fameLab.

For more information about QNRF’s funding programmes, visit qnrf.org.