At the beginning of April, in partnership with Zayed University, du launched its first Emirati Startup Challenge.

The aim of the countrywide competition was to give creative Emirati students the opportunity to showcase their ideas in front of a live audience and a judging panel to win cash prizes and a chance to work with a local business mentor.

In celebration of the Year of Zayed, this initiative was co-organised by E11 Global and STEP Group.

"We have always expressed our trust in the immense potential of the UAE youth. Now, and in alignment with the UAE Vision 2021 that directs the transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, we are delighted to launch this initiative," said Abdulwahed Juma, the Executive Vice President of Brand and Corporate Communications at du, according to Wamda.

On Monday, out of the 18 selected startups, four winners were chosen by the panel of judges after they successfully presented their ideas and pitches to an audience which included His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the UAE's Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

Mabany won the first place, Emit came second while Fursah and DriveLess shared the third place.

Pictured: H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence

The top two winners received cash prizes of 25,000 dirhams and 15,000 dirhams respectively while the two third-place winners won 10,000 dirhams each.

"It was a hard process to choose winners. Most of today's innovation is linked to apps and artificial intelligence. Seeing the passion and drive from entrepreneurs is quite exciting to see," said Khalfan Belhoul, the CEO at Dubai Future Foundation who was also on the judging panel.

"We are extremely proud of the startups who presented today. This is a pioneering initiative that supports the growth of entrepreneurial aspirations and skillsets both in the country and in the region," said H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence.

Khalid Al Awar, who recently quit his job to pursue his ideas, won the first prize in the startup challenge for developing Mabany, an integrated online system that eases communication between tenants and facility management companies.

Mabany is a cloud-based management software that connects facility managers with tenants through a friendly user experience. Through Mabany's mobile application, a tenant can submit a request to the facility management company stating their preferred time and even attach photos. 

The company receives the tenant request on their dashboard and assigns the job to one of their technicians

Emirati entrepreneur Amna Al Ghaith was announced as the second winner for developing Emit, an app that helps people get whatever they want and whenever they want, sending drivers to collect or send items to and from customers using motorbikes.

Maryam Belhoul, the developer of Fursah and Faisal Al Hawi from DriveLess were chosen by the judges for third place.

"Fursah is a business geared at connecting people interested in volunteering with non-governmental organizations," said Belhoul.

Al Hawi noted: "DriveLess is a smart app for an individual to plan their day based on traffic for a safer and less-stressed commute. It connects typical planner apps and navigation apps with human experience for better results on predicting traffic."