Dubai – MENA Herald: The Young Entrepreneur Competition 2016, 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, began today at the Dubai Festival City Mall. The competition, organised by Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, features more than 500 diverse business projects presented by more than 1,000 students from schools and universities across the UAE.

Mall visitors can see the participating business projects and buy the products displayed in specially designed kiosks till the 2nd of April. UAE nationals account for 45% of the projects on display while 10% are from other GCC countries and the remaining are from other nationalities. Girl students are a majority among the contestants – 574, against 427 boys.

Ibtihal Al Naji, General Coordinator of YEC, said the overwhelming participation in YEC 2016 confirms the event’s success in reaching out to the students in various age categories to nurture the entrepreneurial culture, in consistent with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President UAE Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

“In its 11th edition, the Young Entrepreneur Competition is being supported by various government and private agencies, including, but not limited to, Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children, Ministry of Social Affairs, Public administration for children centers and the Ministry of Education, along with a number of schools in the UAE. Such support reflects the priority accorded by competent authorities to entrepreneurship development and to supporting creative young talents who are looking for the perfect environment to achieve their ambitions,” Al Naji stated.

“Dubai Festival City Mall is proud to support the entrepreneurial spirit of the UAE by partnering with Dubai SME for the Young Entrepreneur Competition 2016. The competition offers a great platform for students to translate their business ideas into real-world projects, and gain operational experience in buying, selling, and dealing directly with customers. We believe DFC Mall provides the right environment for students to showcase their products, while enjoying an unbeatable combination of shopping, leisure and entertainment options within a truly unrivalled setting,” commented Steven Cleaver, Director – Shopping Centres, Al Futtaim Group Real Estate.

Abdul Aziz Al Mazam, Chief of the Registration Committee of YEC said the 2016 edition is witnessing an unprecedented level of competition, creativity and business acumen among the participants. “Besides, there are younger age groups participating for the first time, which shows the growing interest and confidence generated by the event year after year. Around 750 of the participants this year are aged 12-25 years while 250 are aged 6-11, which is more than twice the number of participants in this category in the previous cycle.”

Al Mazam also stressed the importance of the contest in encouraging creative ideas of the youth and enabling them to drive economic growth in the emirate. The event provides a competitive environment that true to the realities of the business world, gives the students an opportunity to manage their business projects, and instills a desire in them to establish their own businesses in the future.