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Immediate impact

The Young Lynx Academy announces its competition winners

by Ishwari Khatu

Last month, organisers of the Young Lynx Academy, held on June 13-14 at business incubator space In5 in Dubai, announced the winners of their 24-hour hackathon. The winning team consisted of five creatives from different agencies: Mariam Samy, Mary-Anne Trant, Nourhan Khalidi, Malaka Shoukair and one of Campaign Middle East’s Creative Faces to Watch 2021, Sachi Ediriweera.

Set by Emirates Nature – WWF, the hackathon brief focused on the organisation’s Leaders of Change programme. Participating young creatives were grouped into teams and challenged to produce an idea to raise awareness and increase sign-ups for the programme within the Gen Z demographic. 

The winners proposed a digital metaverse world known as ‘Emir8’, representing UAE’s eighth emirate. Identifying Gen Z’s need for instant gratification, the team’s Emir8 concept offered digital land on sign up, which displayed the real-time results of the participant’s real-world efforts in the Leaders of Change programme.

The gamification of the experience would help encourage further participation to completely transform their lands from barren to flourishing while comparing and sharing lands within social circles. 

“The team identified and created a solution to one of the most challenging issues that conservation organisations face: demonstrating impact immediately,” said Monica Cooney, head of strategy and impact at Emirates Nature – WWF and a judge of the competition. “Their strategy brings volunteers along the journey by creatively integrating the metaverse with real-life conservation work, highlighting the contribution of each individual and illustrating how digital innovation can mobilise people
for good.” 

The academy also conducted sessions featuring Leo Burnett Dubai creative director Giorgia Fattoracci, Google creative strategy lead Ali Cheikhali and TBWA/RAAD chief innovation officer Jennifer Fischer. In an interactive session, communication consultant Bina Mathews offered further insight into
individual growth. 

Held by the Dubai Lynx team, Young Lynx Academy is a free academy designed to support young talent and help them move to the next level of their careers. Creatives under 32 participate in the annual two-day event featuring career-enriching activities such as keynote talks from regional creative leaders and the 24-hour hackathon. 

Dubai Lynx takes place in March. 

Winners’ words

Mariam Samy, senior strategic planner, Wunderman Thompson 

“The academy honestly exceeded my expectations. The talks organised were super insightful and a great chance to learn from the big names in the industry. It was also a great way to get to meet the talent out there from other agencies that we normally wouldn’t have got a chance to meet, let alone work together with.

The competition was challenging but super fun nonetheless. It was interesting to see how each team tackled the brief and the different resolutions presented.”

Sachi Ediriweera, senior experiential designer, VMLY&R Commerce

“Around four years ago, I was mostly into event design and worked backstage at Dubai Lynx. That was my first brush with what Dubai Lynx represented, and I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to be part of it. Fast forward a few years, and here we are with a win at Young Lynx Academy.

The academy had some amazing speakers and, importantly, helped us meet some amazing like-minded individuals. The competition was intense and fun. As we were paired with those we had met on the same day, it was a testament to the power of teamwork. Of course, our team’s win made the experience all the more memorable.”

Mary-Anne Trant, senior art director, Lightblue 

“Inspired by several captivating talks in the morning that not only built-up courage and excitement but equipped us to nail the hack brief! It was an amazing experience and an absolute honour working with a bunch of such talented creatives. The entire experience, from brainstorming and ideation to constructing the deck and presenting it to the audience, really clarified the importance of teamwork.

I’ve always believed in pushing every brief – challenging the creative into uncomfortable territories. During the hack brief, we really worked as a team to do just this. Every idea we had, we thought, ‘How can we elevate this? How can we take it one step further to really resonate with our target audience?’ And I guess it worked.”

Nourhan Khalidi, motion/graphic designer and artist, Boopin

“I really enjoyed it and it was a really great experience as it covered several aspects of the world of creativity and advertising. And it was really helpful to meet different creative minds from different agencies and ages.”





Malaka Shoukair, commerce content specialist, Publicis Groupe

“A memorable experience filled with insightful creative thinking, enticing competition and brilliant talent. An experience I’m extremely proud not only to have taken part in but also to have won.

To be completely frank, the brief we received was challenging and had many layers. This, however, helped in pushing our creative boundaries as much as possible to come up with an idea that is fun, engaging, and persuasive enough to get in the minds of our identified target audience.”