The Moroccan student, Chaimae El Mahdawi, won first place for an app she built that tracks health risks while travelling.
By Amal El Attaq
The Arab Innovation Academy (AIA) has announced the winning startup team, led by Moroccan student Chaimae El Mahdawi, of the second annual Qatari competition. El Mahdawi’s team won the prize for their “Salamat-e” mobile application on January 15, in Doha.
“Salamat-e” gives travelers information about diseases, prevention measures, and relevant vaccinations before travelling. The app includes other health tools like the “Map Clinic,” which connects to a GPS and tracks travelers’ health status.
Depending on the country where the traveler is, the app can raise awareness about certain diseases.
A challenging competition
“When I went to Doha, I only had 10 days to compose a team…. I was very pleased to have a such wonderful team from different countries; two Palestinians, a Russian and a Sudanese joined me to form a start-up,” the student said to Morocco World News.
“Working with an international team was a very rich exchange; they were from different cultures but since I was the CEO and the project manager, I had to fit with their language, work methods and rate,” El Mahdawi said.
The AIA competition brought together more than 160 participants from 30 different nationalities. Twelve Moroccans took part in this major meeting of innovation. Among them, five participated with their own ideas, including El Mahdawi. The seven other Moroccans joined others’ startup teams.
El Mahdawi related how she dealt with lack of sleep, hard work, and time constraints to make the project come to life and win the competition.
“During the competition, some of our supervisors told us that they are going to select 20 teams that will benefit from extra training in Europe. Our team had all the criteria to do so, except one: An option on my travel app was not working,” El Mahdawi related.
“I started crying, it was my most stressful and worst part of the competition. I could not forget it till now; I had lost hope on winning, and I felt very bad,” said the student.
El Mahdawi succeeded in fixing the app’s option with the mentors and benefiting from the training.
“When I took part in this competition, I had two goals: to [realize] my idea and to hoist the Moroccan flag high. There was no question that Chaimae El Mahdaoui wins but Morocco wins,” El Mahdawi said.
“It’s just amazing, It was a very exceptional feeling when I was ranked in the TOP 10,” said the student.
“When I heard the name of my project, I was thrilled, It was my favourite part during the competition,” said El Mahdawi. She added that a researcher from Stanford University told her that he did not know that Morocco had so much potential and that he is starting to think seriously about investing in the kingdom. “At that moment, I had pride for my country,” she said.
El Mahdawi emphasized that she was also happy to contribute to improving the image of Moroccan women in the Arab World.
The student expressed her willingness to work with Moroccan investors, “in order to keep the Moroccan touch on her project.”
She is also planning to go for a training in Silicon Valley in the United States as the prize allows to do so and another one in Europe. “I still didn’t get enough details about this, but this is what I am planning to do. I am more focused now on developing the app,” added the student.
Arts and sciences
El Mahdawi, 22, is a researcher at the Mohammed VI University for Health Sciences in Casablanca, and is currently earning her Master’s degree in cancer biology.
“Art is my escape from the world, when I don’t feel comfortable, I just have to play some piano, and this is what I had done before in a stressful moment during the competition,” El Mahdawi explained.
In her spare time, El Mahdawi is a ballet teacher and vlogs about her trips on a YouTube channel. She also aspires to spread positivity on the web and bring peace through her Instagram posts and monthly live videos with people from multiple countries.
El Mahdawi is also a project coordinator for Enactus Morocco, for which she has gone on humanitarian trips, particularly to Brazil. She also went to Egypt for the iCancerVive association that helps sick children.
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[ First day in @icancervive_asm ] : This picture was taking on my first day volunteering with Icancervive, an organization that is working on the same vision that i have for these heroes ?♂️ ?♀️ ! When I arrived to the hospital i didn’t know what to expect, how to communicate or how to draw a smile on their faces, because as u may know this experience was in Egypt ! It’s true that they speak Arabic but it’s not the same jokes, language and as kids they won’t get that I speak a different Arabic. . I saw this kid sitting alone so I went to talk to him, his name is Moataz ! It was like a first date for me ? I was so excited just for him to say hi to me, i tried to explain to him that I came all the way from Morocco to play with him, he smiled and i was dancing of joy in my head. At some point his face started fading..the treatement was taking him down. . Still me and some colleagues in icancervive kept talking to him as trying to drive his attention to us instead of the treatement. We successfully made him enjoy our company. . And this was the beginning of my journey in #Volunteering_In_Egypt. Ps : Can you see how excited i am to take a picture with him ?? ! . . #volunteering #icancervive #volunteer #hospital #heroes #good #morocco #moroccan #proud #kids #positivity See you on the next post for the next story ?