Dubai – MENA Herald: The 2016 edition of the annual Young Entrepreneur Competition, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, will begin at Dubai Festival City Mall on the 30th of March. Organised by Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, YEC 2016 will host 500 business projects designed by 1,031 students from schools and universities across the UAE till the 2nd of April.

The popular mall, which has over two million square feet of gross leasable area and more than 370 retail outlets, including 25 international brands as well as 85 restaurants and cafes, will provide an ideal setting for YEC contestants to display their entrepreneurial talent and innovations to visitors from the UAE and the region over four days. The competition allows participants to translate a business idea into an actual project, manage the business and sell their products at special kiosks in an environment that stimulates business culture and work.

Ibtihal Al Naji, General Co-ordinator of YEC, commented: “The Young Entrepreneur Competition is currently in its eleventh year and the 2016 edition is characterised by an unprecedented level of innovation and creativity in the participating projects as well as in the design and layout of the kiosks. The competition reflects Dubai SME’s focus on instilling and nurturing a spirit of enterprise among the younger generation in the UAE.”

Expressing her appreciation for the support extended by Dubai Festival City Mall, Al Naji said the event underlines the role of the private sector in fostering entrepreneurship. “We thank the Dubai Festival City Mall for hosting the Young Entrepreneur Competition, and we consider them a strategic partner in promoting a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship among the younger generation.”

Al Naji added the competition attracted 1,000 entries this year, of which 500 were selected for their outstanding levels of innovation and quality. Among the finalists, 150 projects are from the 5-11 age group and the remaining 350 are from students aged 12-25.

The organising committee gathered feedback from over 500 students this year to understand their requirements and preferred time for the competition as the event, since its inception in 2005, has evolved into a keenly watched and sought after platform for talent search and research.

“This year the competition saw 140 projects from 240 students in the 5-11 age group, compared to 100 projects from 150 students in the 10th edition. Handicraft, painting, recycled products, text books and stationery as well as children’s games are the major activities preferred by students in this age group for their projects,” Al Naji said, adding that the aim of inviting this age group to YEC was to introduce children to the basic concepts of a business, such as value of money, dealing with customers, salesmanship, creativity and saving, and also allow their entrepreneurial spirit to evolve in a competitive environment.

“The remaining 350 projects are presented by 791 students from various emirates in the UAE. We could see a high level of innovation and creativity in these projects, which we believe raises the bar on competition and allows the students to compete in a real world of business. A large number of the projects involve crafts, recycled products, information technology and fine arts,” said Al Naji.

Abdul Aziz Al Mazam, Chief of the Registration Committee of YEC stated that the competition opens the way to the world of entrepreneurship for participants. “The competition aims to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship and help students overcome the difficulties they face in the business world. By giving students the opportunity to manage their own businesses and test their entrepreneurial skills in an actual business environment the competition provides them with the inspiration to establish their own businesses in future.”