At age fifteen, the UAE's Fatima Al Kaabi is already making headlines.
Known as the country's "youngest inventor," the gifted teen is a trailblazer in the making.
In an interview with Stepfeed, Al Kaabi spoke of how she became an inventor at such a young age. She also told us about her creations and plans for the future.
Childhood, inspiration and early beginnings
Al Kaabi is a 15-year-old who currently studies at Manor Hall International School in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi.
But she isn't your ordinary eleventh grader.
The young teen is an award winning inventor, innovator and public speaker.
At the beginning of our interview, Al Kaabi explained that she started inventing robots at the age of 7, and has been working in the field of robotics ever since.
When asked what led her to enter the field, she said her parents, who had an incredible impact on her as a child, were her main source of inspiration.
"My dad is an engineer and my mom studied IT. I was raised in an environment that encouraged me; there were all these technical vibes around. I was influenced by the things both my parents did, I would watch my father fixing the TV at home, or talking about projects he was developing at work, and I was always extremely interested in what he was doing. At times he also taught me a few tricks and know hows," she said.
The talented young teen also added that her parents were the ones who noticed her talent and enthusiasm for robotics.
“They both pushed me into going to courses and workshops and truly encouraged my passion for robotics and programming.”
How she became the UAE's youngest inventor
At first, Al Kaabi was dubbed the UAE's "youngest inventor" by media outlets that used the term because they hadn't come across anyone who was younger than her in the field.
However, in 2015, the young teen was officially given the title, after Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad awarded it to her at the Pioneers of UAE award ceremony.
The UAE Pioneers initiative was launched by Sheikh Mohammed in November 2014.
It aims to honor and celebrate UAE pioneers, each in their respective field.
On her greatest achievement
Even at such a young age, Al Kaabi has already won an array of prestigious awards.
She has also participated in international competitions, panels and talks.
While she considers the UAE Pioneers Award one of her greatest achievements, when asked to pick the one she feels is her absolute best, she said:
"There are many competitions I’ve taken part in, many of which I also won, but I don't see any of them as my biggest achievement. To me, the greatest achievement I've made so far is getting to spread my journey and knowledge. Going to schools and universities, speaking to people and inspiring them, even if only a little."
"We should all be inventors"
Earlier this year, Al Kaabi was invited to give a talk at TED X Fujairah where she spoke of her experience.
"I decided to talk about how how we all should be inventors and creators of change. I thought that this talk would be something that motivates people, maybe even push them forward into following their own dreams and passions," she said.
"Ted Ex was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to share my experience on a huge platform," she added.
Al Kaabi named her talk "We should all be inventors," and when asked why she chose the title, she explained:
"There’s this very famous TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an African novelist and feminist. In it, she talked about how we should all be feminists. I was incredibly moved by her words and so I thought about writing up a speech inspired by them. That's when 'we should all be inventors' came up."
On her plans for the future
"I’ll be graduating in two years, after that I’ll be focusing on my higher education," she said.
"I am thinking of studying political science or engineering, but it's hard to choose at this age so I’ll take my time," she added.
"When it comes to my career in robotics, I am thinking about a few inventions and currently researching them. I am also working with a few companies who want to turn some of my inventions into products that people can actually use. That's my ultimate goal, to make things that could benefit my community, people and society as a whole," she explained.
Message to young Arabs everywhere
Towards the end of our interview with Al Kaabi, she shared an inspirational message directed at young Arabs everywhere.
"The Arab world needs people who are creative and who think outside the box, beyond what’s around them. Arabs were once known for the greatest scientific discoveries and achievements, and I think we are capable of going back to how good we were across history."
When asked to share advice with young people who are about to start pursuing their own dreams, she said:
"Based on my experience, being young in a very difficult field means you'll certainly face obstacles, so always remind yourself that there are many people out there who can and will support you. If you still haven't found them, someday, you will. Expose yourself to the people around you, learn, travel, read. Always remember that it’s all about exposing yourself to new environments that’ll inspire you and change your perspective on the world."
This profile is part of StepFeed's Featured Arabs series, featuring Arabs you should know about. Read previous profile's here.