ABU DHABI // A Qatari inventor won a Dh1.1 milion first prize in last night’s live finale of the Stars of Science reality show for his automated cooking pot.
Khalid Aboujassoum beat 7,000 applicants and 16 finalists from eight Arab countries in the show.
The popular vote gave Mr Aboujassoum, 27, an edge over Dubai-based university lecturer Dr Mohamed Watfa, who competed with his virtual desktop to win the Pan-Arab reality TV show where contestants compete for the best invention.
As a father of two and member of the Qatari swimming team, Mr Aboujassoum developed his automated cooking pot Tahi to promote health. It automatically remembers recipes and cooking times.
His dream is to make his invention an everyday household appliance; his challenge on the show was to make his product affordable to everyday users.
“I have an integrated action plan,” he said this week. “I was able to focus on the strength in my invention and overcome the fear that I felt backstage.”
Half of the score was from judges and half from the popular vote, sent from across the Arab world by SMS and telephone.
Mr Aboujassoum received 20 points from the popular vote and 10 from the judges.
Dr Watfa, from Lebanon, an IT professor at the University of Wollongong Dubai, and the Kuwaiti inventor Khaled Eid both received 13.8 points from the judges but did not get the popular votes to secure first place.
Dr Watfa won 15.9 points from the popular vote to win the second prize of Dh550,500. He was one of two UAE entrants to reach the top 20. The other was Emirati student Aisha Saleh.
Dr Watfa created a virtual desktop that allows up to 20 people to work and run different applications at the same time from the same computer by projecting virtual touchscreens.
His teaching background in Dubai and at the American University of Beirut inspired his invention.
“What my invention does is it turns a table into a computer. We don’t need papers any more,” he said during his final statement on the show. “I knew that I had an invention that would be very beneficial to the world and I was certain that Stars of Science would be my gateway into achieving that.”
Dr Watfa wants his device, “Shared”, to be used in developing countries with limited resources.
“Every big project starts with ambition. I stand here before you because I have ambition. My ambition is to get rid of illiteracy,” he said last night. “My ambition is to give every student in the world a chance to use a computer.”
The invention could change teaching methods “everywhere in the world” and would motivate every child to go to school, he said.
Mr Eid won the third prize of Dh367,000 for his invention of a portable holographic screen.
Jaber Henzab, from Qatar, placed fourth for a prize of Dh175,000 for his automated home pharmacy that allows the elderly dispense prescriptions at specific times.
The competition is open for inventors aged 18 to 30 from the Arab world, and is accepting applicants now for next year.