UAE-based University Students Collaborate to Address Environmental Issues at Sila Conference

Students from eight UAE-based higher education institutions participate in the inaugural Sila Abu Dhabi Conference, sponsored by the NYUAD Institute.

From November 23-24, the UAE’s brightest university students will converge at NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus to participate in the inaugural Sila Abu Dhabi Conference. As the joint effort of top students from eight UAE-based higher education institutions, Sila Abu Dhabi, supported by the NYUAD Institute, was cultivated from a student desire to have an impact in solving local issues.

This year’s conference will focus on environmental issues in Abu Dhabi, with an emphasis on recycling and waste, water, and energy. Fantastic speakers will be coming from around the world to take part in the conference and direct students as they work on projects to solve environmental issues. Students will have two days to work on a team project and at the conclusion of the event will present their project to the public and a panel of judges. The winning team, chosen from across the three categories, will receive initial funding of up to USD 5,000 to implement their idea.

“The whole way the conferences are structured, I really believe they will foster solutions to pertinent issues in their respective communities,” Alf Lim, NYUAD Class of 2015, founder of Sila Abu Dhabi, said. “The very fact that the model is looking to connect students, agencies, and local companies in new ways is exciting; it creates a network of do-ers and fosters a supporting environment for action.”

The participating universities are: Abu Dhabi University, Higher Colleges of Technology, Khalifa University, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, New York University Abu Dhabi, Petroleum Institute, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, and Zayed University.

I am a part of Sila because I believe that it is from the grassroots level and through the youth that we can make positive change

Soraya Bagheri, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi student

The conference will help participating students improve their professional skills, explained Ahmed Alromaithi, an organizing member from the Higher Colleges of Technology, who is in the public relations committee. “I look forward to learning more about event management and project planning from A to Z.”

The conference promises to be not only a great learning experience, but also a valuable networking opportunity for students across campuses, as they talk about issues and engage in constructive cooperation. Sila hopes to encourage collaboration beyond the event, as students who bonded at the conference will be in Abu Dhabi and therefore able to meet up and continue working on their ideas and projects.

A sentiment expressed by many participants, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi student and organizing committee member in event strategy Soraya Bagheri said she is participating in Sila because it will provide a platform for the voices and ideas of the youth to be heard and applied.

“I am a part of Sila because I believe that it is from the grassroots level and through the youth that we can make positive change,” she said. “I believe that it has to power to build capacity in individuals, while contributing to the prevalent discourses in our communities.”

As described by Petroleum Institute student and member of the VIP Relations committee Kamal Al Khuffash, Sila is “an innovation to motivate students to start acting.”