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Arab Youth Hackathon invites Saudi innovators to find solutions for pressing climate challenge                

RIYADH: Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, which threatens the lives and livelihoods of billions of people across the globe.

The Arab Youth Center, which strives to empower young Arabs across the Middle East and North Africa region, alongside the PepsiCo Foundation, has opened applications for young Arab innovators for the Arab Youth Hackathon, a regional entrepreneurship program aimed at creating smarter solutions to climate-related issues in agriculture, circular economy, water security, and renewable energy and efficiency.

The hackathon will run in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, and is seeking applicants, including university students and early-stage entrepreneurs, who either are looking to ideate or have a preliminary existing idea at the testing phase, which will evolve during the hackathons.

Candidates must apply in teams of two to three participants aged between 18 to 35 years of age, with at least one member older than 21.

The hackathon is open for applications until Oct. 13 in Saudi Arabia. Interested participants can submit their entries at arabyouthhackathon.com 

Once the shortlist of teams is selected, PepsiCo, the PepsiCo Foundation, Plug and Play and AYC will host a three-day local hackathon, providing mentorship and curated workshops to transfer knowledge to the participants.

In Saudi Arabia, the hackathon will take place at The Garage in Riyadh from Nov. 3-5.

The proposed solutions will be assessed and selected based on innovation, scalability and financial feasibility.

A panel of experts will evaluate the entries based on their sustainability alignment, ability to reduce emissions, and the magnitude of impact on areas such as climate change, energy, circular economy, deforestation, green transformation, soil fertility, waste management, water scarcity, and marine environment wellbeing.

The finals of the competition, featuring 15 of the most promising solutions from the five countries, will take place in December in Dubai.

The three best innovators will receive an equity-free seed fund from the PepsiCo Foundation to launch their businesses, worth $30,000 for the winner, $20,000 for the runner-up, and $10,000 for third place.

In addition, they will participate in a five-month incubation program that will help them develop and scale their groundbreaking ideas and ensure long-term success.

C.D. Glin, president of PepsiCo Foundation and global head of philanthropy at PepsiCo, said: “At the PepsiCo Foundation, we know that global challenges require bold, innovative, local and lasting solutions. The Arab Youth Hackathon provides a platform for us to feed the potential and entrepreneurial spirit of the next generation of innovators across MENA as they develop home-grown solutions for our planet’s most pressing issues. We are proud to support them and couldn’t be more excited about the social impact they will make.”

Sadeq Jarrar, executive director at AYC, said: “We are thrilled to begin accepting applications for the Arab Youth Hackathon in anticipation of COP28. We heavily prioritize and promote climate action at the AYC, and always strive to formulate impactful initiatives to engage Arab youth in thinking about the future of our world.

“At the AYC, we wholeheartedly believe in the power that youth hold when they mobilize and voice their opinions to collaborate. Through this initiative, we hope to foster a culture of leadership among Arab youth for the betterment of future generations.”

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