Aryam Ahmed, 21, spent two years developing a suit that keeps outdoor workers cool, in an attempt to combat the region’s exhausting heatwaves and promote the responsibility to protect workers' health.
“It started when we saw a fainted worker on the street and we couldn’t do anything about it. As engineers, it is our responsibility to find solutions to problems and help our society. I do not want to show it in the UAE, I want other countries in the world to know about it, because it’s not only the UAE and the GCC that need this solution. We want to create something that everyone can have,” says Ahmed.
The engineering student was announced as one of the winners of the Pitch@Palace competition, an initiative that seeks to encourage entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates and is backed by United Kingdom Royal, Prince Andrew, and sponsored by the Khalifa Fund of Enterprise development. The inventor of the unnamed and unbranded product will go on to present her idea at a regional final in Bahrain next month, which promises the finalists a chance to score a spot at the competition’s global finale in London by the end of the year.
The affordable cooling suit is made out a special material that she developed, and is highly effective at maintaining body temperature for up to four hours. While the official patent for the suit is still pending, it has held up well in tests. Additionally, the suit has a smart system that monitors external heat and a worker’s body temperature, sending an alert to managers if the employee’s temperature reaches over the limit of 38 degrees Celsius. It also features a ‘panic button’ so a worker can call for help in case of an emergency.
The construction industry in the UAE is saturated with migrant workers, many of whom work over 12 hours per day in harsh weather conditions.
Although others have tried to invent cooling suits for outdoor workers, they have often featured water-based cooling or overly complicated fan systems, but the secret to the suit developed by Ahmed and her project partner Latifa AlSeiari’s success lies in the simplicity and safety of the design.
“It has been a great experience, we have talked with many advisors and investors which have allowed me to connect with many people who I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to meet,” says Ahmed.
Other winners at the Pitch@Palace event include the founders of an Arabic language learning platform aimed at children, an online tool to connect patients with doctors and pharmacies, and a home design mobile application.
*This article was originally published on our sister site Startup Scene.