More than 100 students from Qatar University (QU) and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and its partner campuses descended upon the HBKU Student Centre at Education City on Saturday 1 November 2014 for a day of rigorous training ahead of this year’s EBDA Desert Challenge.

The 2014 EBDA Desert Challenge, which will take place at a specially constructed campsite at Fuwairit, Qatar, on 7 and 8 November 2014, will see 10 teams go head-to-head in a weekend long business simulation challenge that tests the their strategy, problem solving, technical and leadership skills and physical endurance.

Director of Student Life at HBKU, Ameena Hussain, said:

This year’s Desert Challenge looks as tough as ever and the training received over the weekend will no doubt be integral when it comes to completing the weekend’s tasks. Leadership and team building skills are essential for the future of any young person and this challenge helps embed these skills in all those involved. The Qatari educational system continues to evolve, and EBDA with its unique ‘hands-on’ experienced based learning is fast becoming an essential development tool for students, helping to develop the country’s talented young minds.’

The Desert Challenge forms part of EBDA, a tailor-made programme offered jointly by QU and HBKU and sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar that focuses on building leadership skills in students through experience-based learning. The programme takes students out of the academic classroom environment so they can gain personal skills through the experiences of managing themselves, working with others and learning to lead.

Associate Vice President for Student Life and Services, Qatar University, Abdulla Al Yafei, said:

This is now the second time we’ve been involved in the EBDA Desert Challenge and the training always proves to be so beneficial to the students participating across the two day challenge. Students need to get out of the academic classroom environment from time to time to diversify their skillset and simulation challenges like this help firmly cement leadership and team building skills, which is why QU is pleased to be able to offer this amazing experience to our students. Good luck to all those taking part in the training and the challenge next weekend.’

2014 ebda desert challenge training students

During the training day, students were exposed to situations that encouraged them to learn about working together, leadership skills and the individual behavioral styles of their fellow students. In addition to skill development, they also gained an understanding of each of the four stages they would be tasked to complete over the weekend challenge. Discussions of sustainability, team planning and goal setting were also included.

During this year’s Desert Challenge, participating students will have to ‘locate, extract and sell oil’, with the team posting the highest profit at the end of the two days winning the 2014 challenge. The tasks are split into four stages – Data, Licenses, Production and Markets – which will take place at various locations around the Fuwairit campsite, testing contestants’ physical and mental endurance.

The students taking part in this year’s EBDA Desert Challenge range from 18-26 years old and come from a range of university courses including engineering, computer science, business, communications, journalism, international studies and Islamic studies.

EBDA is sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar as part of its broader commitment to the country’s 2030 Vision. Through its Action for Qatar social investment programme, Maersk Oil Qatar aims to support economic, social and environmental progress. EBDA compliments Maersk Oil Qatar’s internal Qatarisation Strategy for employees that seeks to develop future leaders. Head of Qatarisation at Maersk Oil Qatar, Sheikh Jassim bin Saud Al Thani, said:

We are excited to be part of another Desert Challenge and always welcome hearing what the weekend’s organizers have in store for the participating students. Maersk is committed to the development of Qatar’s future leaders and exciting and innovative programmes such as EBDA demonstrate the rapid diversification of the country’s education system. We wish all the participating students the best of luck and hope this weekend’s training helps them at every step of the way.’

Students who complete EBDA will receive either a gold, silver, or bronze award that, over time will be valued by employers and society in the same way as academic grades. The programme hopes to foster a culture of personal growth and development among University students in Qatar.