QSTP’s Arab Innovation Academy is a ‘must-join’ for aspiring entrepreneurs
September 25 2019 08:20 PM
Dina al-Hajjar is responding to questions during an interview with Gulf Times at the QSTP premises.
Dina al-Hajjar is responding to questions during an interview with Gulf Times at the QSTP premises. PICTURE: Ram Chand

The Qatar Science & Technology Park’s (QSTP) Arab Innovation Academy (AIA) programme has helped open career opportunities and offered valuable takeaways that create a positive impact on the lives of its graduates.

This holds true for Shaikha al-Subaey and Dina al-Hajjar, who attest to the fact that not only does the programme offer business skills to its participants, but it also teaches them the much-needed soft skills that could be applied when building successful careers.

Al-Subaey and al-Hajjar are both products of the rigorous 10-day programme, which Qatar’s foremost science park considers as “the largest entrepreneurship boot-camp of its kind in the region.”

According to QSTP, the AIA “is a hands-on entrepreneurship programme that introduces participants to an accelerated mode of experiential learning, including how to develop and launch a tech startup in a real marketplace with customer feedback.”

“The AIA gave me new perspectives on the opportunities that I have, and it was an eye opening experience. It helped me improve myself and the direction I wish to embark on from the takeaways that I learned from the programme. As an entrepreneur, I learned to seek opportunities in every challenge or obstacle that I face in my daily life,” al-Hajjar told Gulf Times in an interview.

“After joining AIA and placing third in the roster of winners, the experience had given me a lot of confidence and the courage to join other competitions. I used the knowledge and the skills I learned from the academy in my succeeding projects, which garnered a lot of success in other competitions. It opened a lot of doors and opportunities for me,” continued al-Subaey.

“I believe that the AIA is a ‘must-join’ for students because the amount of knowledge that you gain and the large network you are able to access in such a short amount of time has many benefits and positive impact in one’s life,” she also said.

Because the programme is based on ‘learning by doing’, al-Subaey said this gave her a different perspective on theory against actual practice, noting that ‘learning by doing’ “is the key to achieving success in one’s endeavours.”

For al-Hajjar, the programme also prevented the participants to be emotionally attached to their ideas or projects. This, she said, helps future entrepreneurs to be objective when judging the whole process of starting a business and making it successful “because it is a long journey.”

“Realising that it is okay for some ideas to fail helped me learn to improve the perspective from which I examine the world we live in. Failure is okay and it is one of the stages of learning,” al-Hajjar stressed.

Al-Subaey said ‘failing fast’ is one of the programme’s interesting concepts, which prepares the participants in the event their projects or ideas fail.

“The greatest lesson I learned from the academy is to be open and flexible because entrepreneurship is a diverse industry. You get to work with many people from different backgrounds; you have to accept them and their ideas even if you sometimes do not agree with them,” she explained.

Asked how the programme helped equip them in realising the Qatar National Vision 2030, al-Hajjar said: “Ideas can generate boundless amounts of power and it motivates people enough to change their actions and mindset…natural resources are a gift but they have a limit, hence Qatar is building a people that is aware of the economy, environment, and society.

Al-Subaey added: “As a freelance artist and designer, I am working towards supporting Qatar National Vision 2030 by using my talents to create meaningful content. I am hoping that people would someday find careers that fit their talent and passion, which is just like entrepreneurship – it is integrating talent with what you love to do to create opportunities.”

QSTP is inviting university students from Qatar and the Mena region to apply for the AIA’s third edition slated from January 7 to 20, 2020. The deadline to apply closes on September 30, 2019. For more information about the programme and to apply, visit http://inacademy.eu/qatar/.

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