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Gaza forum showcases youth creativity despite crippling blockade

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Palestinians protest the shutting down of their power plant in 2008. On November 1, 2013, the power plant shut down again. (Photo: Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Palestinians protest the shutting down of their power plant in 2008. On November 1, 2013, the power plant shut down again. (Photo: Abid Katib/Getty Images)

Gaza proves its creativity everyday. The besieged region has never bowed down to the confines of a brain-sapping blockade complete with crippling closures, meager resources and traumatic experiences of war.

Many Gaza youths transcend all of these odds with their dreams, where the stars of hope light up their minds.

But how could the youth of Gaza translate their ideas into a concrete reality that lives up to their aspirations?

One avenue is the Palestinian Forum for Innovation and Technology-PALFIT, organized by the University College of Applied Sciences along with 12 universities and colleges. The forum opened their doors to more than 100 creative enterprises to show and market what Gaza’s youth have done.

The events of the forum were held for two days, October 29 and October 30th, in the Rashad Al Shawa Cultural Center in central Gaza City. It included an exhibition of the projects and four workshops.

“The workshops discussed the role of universities and trade unions in [addressing] Gaza’s rising unemployment rate, as well as the role of civil society organizations and the public sector in empowering the capacities of graduates and offering job opportunities for them,” said Hassan Abu Mutair, the coordinator of the forum. “12 Palestinian universities across the Gaza Strip took part in the Forum of which 100 entrepreneurial projects are selected.”

Abu Mutair pointed out that the project ideas are all inspired by the hard reality of the lives of Gazans, noting that the organizers meant to choose the most creative ones.

At one corner of the exhibition Manal Saleem, standing by her colleague Nedaa Weshaa, was passing a mobile phone through pieces of clothes. Saleem said, “the phone is engineered to produce musical beats that could make the blind feel the colors and the scenic beauty of nature,” and thus, “transcend the disability without any cost.”

“Our aim is mainly to develop smart phone applications to help the blind and the visually impaired to identify colors,” according to Saleem, the manager of the Color Vision company.

Another enterprise present at the forum was the Hope Association For the Deaf. It managed to introduce a multi-service application to those who are speaking and hearing-impaired to assist them by contacting sound-hearing people via smart phones.

Khalil Saleem, the initiator of the idea, says “we seek to facilitate the life of those with hearing defection, so that they could be socially integrated, and a working force equal to the people enjoying good health.”

The application works in 11 languages including Arabic, the native of the Palestinian community, and keeps up with cutting edge teaching methods used for the hearing-impaired.

Saleem reviewed the features of his novel application which include a special dictionary with 2440 words illustrated with video, a converter of the text words to sign language, “I Contact” service for deaf-to-deaf communication, a news service and font size optimization.

Reflecting the reality of Gaza, recently graduated students Israa al-Daya and Roaa Abuarja produced a high quality 3D animation film that details the suffering of Gazans under an unending electricity crisis.

Their two-minute film titled “Leave a little bit [of electricity] for others” is remarkably distinctive for being satirical and humorous. It shows a Gazan trying to make the best use of electricity when it’s on–by watching TV, ironing, and downloading music on the internet at the same time!

Gaza’s lone power plant, which supplies about a third of the electricity the territory of 1.75 million people needs, has been shut since November 1.

Fathi el-Sheikh Khalil, the Energy Authority’s Deputy Chairman, told AFP that “the plant will remain shut until fuel supplies resume from Egypt through the tunnels or the Rafah border crossing, or from Israel if the Palestinian Authority agrees not to impose the heavy taxes.”

Gaza sustained two deadly assaults in 2008-2009 and 2012. In response to the remnants of weaponry left behind–particularly on border areas–two people managed to invent a robot to sensor such life-threatening items.

Talking at a corner at the exhibition avenue, Ahmed and Husain say that “the wireless robot could handle suspicious objects and explosives by going after and locating them, and driving it away from citizens.”

Speaking about the components of the robotic machine, Ahmed says, “it’s a simple one consisting of a metal block, surmounted by a chain lift, and an electronic panel through which the robot can be remotely controlled.”

According to Ahmad, the machine is meant to secure human lives that may be jeopardized by dealing directly or indirectly with those suspicious objects.

Another enterprise that was showcased was the company Mini Space, owned by Amal al-Sousi. “The idea came from within my very narrow home which is crowded with furniture. I’ve designed an multi-purpose office with conjoined desk, chairs , and sofa. Upon succeeding in that, I decided to market my project locally by starting a trading company to work in this field,” says Sousi.

Sousi, an MA student of architecture at the Islamic University, wanted to apply her project to many homes for her postgraduate thesis.

The MA student wants to find a solution to narrow-spaced houses. So far, she completed work at two apartments using models prepared through drawing architectural designs.

Abdulrahman Murad
About Abdulrahman Murad

Abdulrahman Murad is a Gaza-based blogger and freelance journalist. His writings have appeared on Middle East Monitor and ALRAY Media Agency. Follow him on Twitter: @abedomer

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8 Responses

  1. just
    November 7, 2013, 5:29 pm

    If only the Palestinian people were free to practice and apply their genius and resourcefulness in the whole wide world. Imagine accomplishing so much for so many while under cruel and odious Occupation…

    I will never cease to be amazed at the strength and fortitude of the Palestinians. Thanks for this, Mr. Murad. I fervently hope that freedom and justice will come very, very soon for all of the Palestinians.

  2. eljay
    November 7, 2013, 5:34 pm

    >> I will never cease to be amazed at the strength and fortitude of the Palestinians.


    I will also never cease to be amazed by the hatefulness and immorality of Zio-supremacists.

  3. annie
    November 8, 2013, 12:12 pm

    how did i miss hearing about this til now? this is incredible. i wish i could have been there. i want to know more, see the animation video … photos of the event..

    the youth of gaza have blown me away time and again, just blown me away. thank you so much Abdulrahman Murad, for your excellent story. you just make me want to know more and more.

    it just amazes me thru all the darkness in gaza (literally!) so much innovation, so much brilliance much light from the youth.

  4. annie
    November 8, 2013, 12:13 pm

    and i hope we hear more from you Abdulrahman Murad. please write more for us in the future!

  5. Murad Abdulrahman
    Murad Abdulrahman
    November 9, 2013, 1:51 am

    I got assured that all there know the Gaza youth do have the potential to do something creative despite the unfair circumstancesm but will not rest proving them able to. Whats’s crippling their powers most is the occuation, and the internal division. Thanks Annie, Refaat, my professor and influncer, just, and eljay for your morale-raising comments

    • just
      November 9, 2013, 5:23 am

      Murad– the youth in Gaza are indeed talented. Your post is a testament to the wonderfulness of the Palestinian people — a wonderfulness that is truly breathtaking, especially when one considers the horrors of living under Occupation. I am so happy to “meet” you. Please do come back, and often.

  6. Murad Abdulrahman
    Murad Abdulrahman
    November 11, 2013, 2:38 pm

    take a look at one of the afore-mentioned projects. A Gazan utilizes electricity very smartly when it’s on (during the 6 hours).

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