Here are the talented group of contributors of YouthConnect 2016. Keep checking back as we continue to add to the line-up.

Keynote speakers






Dr. Abdulla Al Karam

Director General - Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)

Dr. Abdulla Al Karam is Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), responsible for the quality and growth of Dubai’s private education sector, including early learning centres, schools, universities and training institutes.

Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr

Director General – Smart Dubai Office

Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr is the Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, the government entity charged with overseeing Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, engaging with leadership in the public and private sector to make Dubai a global benchmark smart city.

Ali Mostafa

Filmmaker & Director – AFM Films

Ali F. Mostafa is a pioneering Emirati filmmakers, who set up his own production company, AFM Films in 2007, producing feature films, short films, documentaries, TV commercials, and corporate films. His short film 'Under the Sun' has nominated for best Foreign Film in various international festivals across the world and he was named 'Best Emirati Filmmaker' at the 2007 Dubai International Film Festival. Ali’s feature debut, ‘City of Life’ is considered the UAE's biggest achievement in film. In 2014 Ali was named Man of The Year by Esquire magazine for his achievements in helping build a UAE film industry.

Bader Najeeb

Chef – WithChefB

A self-taught chef and regional culinary champion, Bader Najeeb has made the kitchen his own. His love of baking inspired him to craft delicious treats and enticing desserts; in the process redefining the reach of Emirati cuisine. ‘ChefB’ regularly hosts cooking classes around the world, most notably at the Etihad Alitalia pavilion at Expo 2015 Milan.

Faisal Sheraiff

Social Entrepreneur & Influencer - @faisalsheraiff

The founder of marketing boutique ‘Mode Marketing Studio’, Faisal Sheraiff is a man encouraged by humanity. As a social entrepreneur in a region where most people don’t understand the meaning of the term, he has grown accustomed to looking at life from different perspectives.

Jihad Kawas

Founder & CEO – Saily Inc.

Jihad Kawas is founder & CEO at Saily Inc, one of the top shopping apps in the US, with more than a quarter of a million users. A recipient of the Thiel Fellowship grant and a college dropout, the 19 year old currently lives in Silicon Valley where he focuses on growing his company. Jihad is also passionate about reform of the education system and has delivered two TED talks on the subject.

Dr. Joseph A. Paradiso, PHD

Professor in Media Arts and Sciences Director, Responsive Environments Group MIT Media Lab

As a Professor in Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, Joe Paradiso directs the Responsive Environments Group, which explores how sensor networks can enhance human experiences, interactions and perceptions. He is also co-director of the Things That Think Consortium, which examines the extreme future of embedded computation and sensing.

Omar Farooq

Social Media Influencer & Filmmaker – @omr94

Bahraini social media activist and filmmaker Omar Farooq uses his online fame to highlight often neglected parts of society and chronicle his adventures in the more remote parts of the world.

Roaya Saleh

Founder & Head Chef – Villa Mamas

Roaya Saleh, the chef and founder of Villa Mamas, is a Bahraini woman, who is driven by her endless passion of wanting to reveal her culture through food. Her dream was always to cook and serve Bahraini food using locally sourced organic ingredients in an inviting environment. Since 2011, this dream has become a reality.

Omran Sharaf

Project Manager, Emirates Mars Mission (Hope Probe) – Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC)

Omran Sharaf leads the Emirates Mars Mission. He and his team are responsible for directing, managing, and supporting the different ongoing activities within the mission programs and identifying new science-led strategic opportunities through the mission for the UAE.

Majid Al Qassimi

Director of Animal Health and Development – Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (UAE)

Majid Al Qassimi heads the department of animal health and development at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. With his diverse background, he is now in charge of developing the UAEs Federal Food Security Strategy. He has a keen interest in engaging the youth to further career choices in STEM subjects, and believes that knowledge and transparency are vital foundations to solve our current environmental and sustainability problems.

Workshop curators

DP World

About DP World

DP World is a leading enabler of global trade, operating 77 marine and inland terminals, supported by over 50 related businesses in 40 countries across 6 continents. DP World is the Premier Global Trade Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai.


About Emirates

Emirates is a global connector of people and places and an enabler for trade and tourism. With a fleet of 250 fuel efficient aircraft, the multi-award winning carrier flies to 154 destinations in 82 countries across six continents. The airline is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777. Emirates is also the Official Airline Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai. Emirates Skywards, is the award-winning frequent flyer program of Emirates, and offers four tiers of membership - Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum - with each membership tier providing exclusive privileges.


About HIPA

The Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA) is an internationally renowned photography competition, launched in 2011 by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai. The award seeks to promote Dubai’s vision of artistic and cultural excellence and develop and increase awareness of the art of photography amongst the local Emirati population.



NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university.



The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre is a scientific centre specialized in space science and advanced technology. Established in 2015 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, MBRSC is leading the Emirates Mars Mission to launch Hope Probe to the Red Planet in 2020, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE.



MBC GROUP is a global multimedia powerhouse. 25 years after the launch of MBC1 in London back in 1991, it has succeeded in becoming the leading multiplatform provider of innovative and best-quality information, entertainment and interactive content in the Middle East and North Africa. Aside from being the home of the largest TV, Out-of-home TV and radio network in the MENA, the MBC GROUP includes several HD channels, prominent Digital platforms such as,, (the first free VOD and catch-up portal in the MENA),,, O3 production a premium drama content production company, and Platinum Records a full-service entertainment company.


About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations.

Emirates Literature Foundation

About Emirates Literature Foundation

The Emirates Literature Foundation, the home of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, is a not-for-profit organisation which supports and nurtures literature in the UAE and the region through a programme of varied cultural initiatives.


About Bayt is the #1 job site in the Middle East, offering a complete range of end-to-end employment solutions and career planning tools. Founded in 2000, is fully functional in English, Arabic and French, and offers the fastest, easiest, most effective and cost-efficient methods for employers to find quality candidates, and for job seekers to find top jobs, in the Middle East and North Africa.

Professors Yunsun Chung-Shin and Joanne Pareira

About Professors Yunsun Chung-Shin and Joanne Pareira

Design educator and practitioner, Yunsun Chung-Shin, is currently an associate professor in the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises at Zayed University. Yunsun co-founded Tasmena, an international, community-based not-for-profit design association engaged in and empowering others to develop design solutions for sustainable urban living. Joanne Pereira Renaux is a Fine Arts educator, freelance Arts & Education consultant and practicing illustrator. She currently holds an Adjunct Instructor position at Zayed University’s College of Arts and Creative Enterprises.

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)

About The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is committed to protecting and enhancing air quality, groundwater as well as the biodiversity of the desert and marine ecosystem. EAD seeks to raise environmental awareness, facilitate sustainable development and ensure environmental issues remain one of the top priorities of the national agenda.

Artistic talent

Sons of Yusuf

Hailing from Kuwait City and raised in Los Angeles, California, brothers Ya’koob and Humble Abdul, a.k.a. Sons of Yusuf, are the leading hip hop duo in the Gulf. Their father and namesake, former Jazz musician Yusuf Al Refaie, cultivated their appreciation for music from an early age. The brothers are set to release a collaborative EP – ‘Sheikh The World’, with Shafiq Husayn, later this year.

Imagine KUW

Founded by prize-winning illusionist Abdulateef Al Saleh, Imagine KUW is a group of Kuwaiti illusionists, mentalists and comedians who know no limitations. Their aptly-tilted ‘Comedy Illusion Show’ is a performance guaranteed to entertain and mystify.

Rashed Al Nuaimi

Aspiring Opera & Pop Singer

Rashed Al Nuaimi is an aspiring Emirati opera and pop songster. He plans on continuing his passion for music academically with a Masters in voice and opera.

Obaid Mohammed AlBudoor


Obaid Mohammed AlBudoor, is a Emirati-Egyptian 24 year old, and is a corporate and investment banker at Citibank. Outside the office, Obaid spends a lot of his time outdoors, exploring the UAE and beyond while taking photos, playing some music, drawing, or enjoying a good book with the company of his dogs. Being the animated person that he is, Obaid enjoys opportunities of presentations, public speaking and quality socializing. He has great empathy to and for others, and genuinely tries his best to put his heart into his interests.

Mohannad Al Hattab


26 years old, social media influencer for 3 years now. Focused on creating short sketches using character based comedy. I was born in the united Arab Emirates, however I am of Syrian descent. I have a bachelors degree in marketing and management from the American university of Sharjah and a masters degree from Brunel University in London in marketing. I currently freelance as a social media influencer and actor. I have worked with a wide array of brands ranging from brands like McDonalds to fashion brands like Tods. I have also recently became MR. Trivago of the middle east.