The Indian is motivated by the remarkable vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
A 31-year-old tech-savvy entrepreneur from Kerala is trying to take inspiration from Dubai’s incredible growth story and implement such changes in his hometown of Malappuram.
Umer Abdussalam, Founder and CEO of educational app Edapt, has always been fascinated by how the UAE’s leadership transformed Dubai from a barren desert into an innovative world-class city.
“By converting my hometown of Malappuram to Dubai, I don’t mean to recreate another Burj Khalifa, a museum of the future or a digital twin of Dubai there, I want to improve the lives of the people of Malappuram by empowering them with the right skills for the new digital age as you see it here. I want to help the youth at home to get high-paying jobs in the future,” Abdussalam said on the sidelines of Gitex Global 2022.
“I have been coming to Gitex for six years. Here I am inspired by innovators and technology pioneers. The stands offer technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain and others – the combination of which is very powerful and can only be seen here.”
Abdussalam, a graduate in Information Technology and Political Science, was once an Indian civil servant candidate. Three times he would have come close to qualifying for the elite services: Once, after the final interview, he missed the cut-off by four marks. Meanwhile, he prepared students for the basic course civil service exam.
During the 2016 World Economic Forum, he learned how the fourth industrial revolution and advanced technologies are transforming the way people live, work and connect. In 2017, Abdussalam founded the learning app Edapt, a startup to prepare children and young people for such a rapidly changing world.
“My goal is to introduce children to artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, 3D printing, virtual reality, blockchain and coding in addition to regular school lessons. These disruptive forces of technology are changing the world and their knowledge will determine how you fare in the job market.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, users of his startup app went from 10,000 to 300,000.
Learning from Sheikh Mohammed
The Indian is motivated by the remarkable vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
Borrowing from Mohammed bin Rashid Global Initiatives’ One Million Arab Coders, Abdussalam launched 100K Malappuram Coders earlier this year – a project alongside local citizenship and the Edapt learning app to help children learn about platforms to learn about the digital age.
“Since all industries rely on digitization, those with programming skills will be in great demand in the future. So we took a proactive step to teach 100,000 kids to code. It was launched in cooperation with Panchayat Malappuram district. It is a 12 week short course focusing on 12 core ideas including food production, space exploration, coding, transportation, agriculture. We have tried to expand the choices for children in the future.”
Since its launch in January, 68,000 students have enrolled and 5,000 have completed the three-month course.
“Once we instill skills in children, we give them the opportunity to try several high-paying jobs. Such jobs, which can be practiced as a work-from-home model, help talented girls and women contribute to the economy. If the right skills are created, Malappuram can be transformed into a high-income economy just like Dubai.”
In addition, Abdussalam has launched a Societal Problem Solving Volunteer Campaign, which addresses local citizen issues. He has published a book about the Fourth Industrial Revolution – “Admirers of Samantha” published by DC Books. He has inspired a team of nine Dubai-based entrepreneurs aged between 20 and 40 to join him at this Gitex.