Four finalists remained Friday evening – hailing from Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria – when the Qatar Foundation 's "edutainment" reality show's finale broadcast live from Doha. After the judges and the TV audience voted, Abou Jieb and his water-efficient solar-powered washing machine "Glean" came out on top.
Speaking just before the finale went live, Abou Jieb told StepFeed, "This was a dream, while I was watching the 'Stars of Science' season three finale, my father told me that 'you will be there someday.'"
Abou Jieb explained that the very next day he went to school with a new determination to work hard in order to meet his father's challenge. Those words of encouragement set him on the path that inevitably brought him to Doha where he joined the ranks of previous contestants he once dreamed of being.
"Everyone should dream, but not without hard work," Abou Jieb added.
The idea for the innovative washing machine came as Abou Jieb recognized the unfortunate reality of power cuts and water shortages within his country. As an engineer, he realized he could work towards a sustainable solution.
Now, with the $300,000 cash prize and a developed product, Abou Jieb is looking to launch his product regionally and internationally.
"When I started working on my project, I thought it's just for Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – countries which suffer from electricity and water shortages. However, [even] in California, the governor issued a fine of $500 for those who water plants," Abou Jieb said.
"[California] is a first world place and it suffers from water shortages. So the market is very huge."
At just 22, Abou Jieb – who studied electrical engineering at Damascus University – looks set to launch a successful career that will benefit the region and the world.
However, the other three finalists boast impressive products as well and won't be going home empty-handed. Coming in second place with his prayer chair called "Sanda", Omar Hamid from Egypt received $150,000. Hassan Al Balawi from Saudi Arabia came in third with his EEG cap analyzer "Wakecap", winning $100,000. Algerian Mohamed Mourad Benosman came in fourth for his ECG Stress Analyzer "Digiheart", receiving $50,000.
Launched in 2009, "Stars of Science" is dedicated to scientific innovation, aiming to shine a spotlight on the next generation of Arab innovators. The program is part of the Qatar Foundation's vision of unlocking human potential by creating an environment that facilitates learning and knowledge.
The show will return next year with an 8th season, accepting applicants between the ages of 18 and 35 from throughout the Arab world. Special emphasis will be placed on finding promising project ideas that contribute to resolving sustainable development challenges in the region. Prizes will also be diversified and increased to include both cash and grants totaling $1 million.
Prior to this season, the show boasted 92 alumni who have filed 76 patents and started 17 companies.