Attending GHC for the first time? Here are some useful tips!

It is October! It is the time when the Grace Hopper Celebration is started 🙂

In this blog post, I will be talking about my experience attending the Grace Hopper Celebration, and how you can make the most out of these three days, which are going to be for sure one of the best days of your life, especially if you are attending this celebration for the first time of your life!


I got the chance to attend the GHC in October 2015 , It was at Houston, TX at that time, and of course hosted at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which is a huge convention center to host all these women in computing (12,000 women at my time), who will be attending lectures, sessions and main keynotes during the event.

I was honored to get Arab Women in Computing scholarship to attend the GHC, with sponsorship of Qatar Computing Research Institute, which granted 6 Arab women to attend the GHC in fields of industry, academic, entrepreneurship and students.


ArabWIC Reception at GHC 2015

Attending this event was one of the best things happened in my life, it was the most diverse and huge event I had seen. I met huge number of women, from different backgrounds, where were there in one place, sharing same passion in technology.

If you are attending the GHC this year, and it is your first time, you are probably asking yourself how this experience is going to be different than previous conferences and events? But trust me , it is different. Therefore, I summarized few advises from my experience to help you make the most out of the event 😀

  1. You are registered officially now for the event, so you have your registration info printed, and you know where you’re going to stay, and of course you have your flight tickets reserved. I advise you to take a look at your hotel accommodation and check the distance from the event location to the hotel. However, because you will be spending all the days in the GHC halls, you won’t probably need to go around the event halls during the day, but for any reason you need to walk from the hotel to the event, there should be buses waiting for the attendees in front of the hotels taking you to the event location all days long, and the same on the way back from the event location to the hotels.
  2. When packing for the trip, I advise you pack light. Houston’s weather is hot and humid in October. However, it may get cold at night or inside the event halls, so bring a jacket. Other than that I suggest to bring light clothes and some layers. The dress code is formal or semi-formal, be ready to meet women from different backgrounds and sometimes you will get introduced to important people. Wear comfortable shoes, because you will walk a lot.
  3. Conference agenda: believe me it is huge! Therefore, you need to install the GHC app, which should be sent to your email as soon as the conference is going to start, install it, login, and start checking schedule. Also you can check other attendees and speakers profiles. In addition, it is time to customize your own event agenda. In the app, you can choose the sessions you want to attend, and add them to your own customized agenda, so you can access them easily from the phone, receive updates, find the room locations for these sessions and more information about them.
  4. Because the event sessions are so many, make sure to write down or follow the sessions you want to attend in the app. Also, always have additional alternative session to attend in case the first session you want to join is full. Believe me this happens a lot, especially if you are a student and you want to attend the speed mentoring tables.
  5. Main Keynotes: awesome place to be. On all the three days of the event, there are main keynotes, in the morning and in the afternoon. Make sure you go to most of the keynotes, unless there is an important session to attend.  It is inspiring, changing  experience and amazing. In the keynotes main room, you will meet thousands of women all in one main hall, and there are giant screens every few rows showing the main speakers talks, so don’t miss it. From 2015 year, I liked the most Megan Smith, Susan Wojcicki, and Sheryl Sandberg talks.
  6. Print out copies of your resume and bring your business cards.
  7. One of the best things to check at the GHC, is the Career Booth. It is useful in general , but be careful not to waste all your time there!In this place you have the chance to meet with high tech companies, so it is a great chance to meet recruiters if you are willing to find a great job at international company, such as FB, Google, Cisco, Twitter, Amazon, LinkedIn etc.
  8. Upload your resume! In order to have onsite interviews during the event, some companies look at the attendees resumes before the event, and they start sending emails including coding challenges, or potential initial interviews at the career booth. Therefore, make sure to upload your updated resume to the GHC database, once you finished the registration.
  9. Practice for the job interviews before the event! If you are willing to have an onsite job interview, you need to be prepared. Therefore, you need to review data structures and algorithms concepts, practice problem solving skills, and write code in your preferred language. You can check HackerRank and InterviewBits , these are useful websites.
  10. Note that, not all the interviews happens onsite in the event, however you can build connections and networks, and this will keep your resume in the companies email list, and they will continue to send information about jobs interviews and offers even after the GHC event.
  11. If you are interested in graduate studies, you can also find universities which promotes their technical graduate programs. Therefore, if you are looking into this opportunity, go to their place in the career booth and check what programs or scholarships they offer.
  12. Community events during GHC! I was honored to attend the community gathering event for ArabWIC (Arab Women in Computing) – ArabWIC Reception, where we had a chance to meet, discuss ways to improve Arab women skills and technical expertise, and to network and learn more about ArabWIC organization and activities. There were similar events for other communities within the GHC. Therefore, make sure to attend one based on your interest, you will find inspiring women to network with and to share same interests.
  13. Volunteering at the ArabWIC booth was very nice experience, I talked to many Arab women who attended the GHC, and we managed to have speed mentoring tables at the career booth, focused on industry, entrepreneurship and students helping whoever attended to find better answers to their questions.

Finally, thanks for all the inspiring amazing women I met at the GHC and at ArabWIC, they are all amazing friends and colleagues. 🙂 Special thanks to Sana’ Odeh, Kaoutar El Maghraoui, Eman Fituri, Manar Abu Talib, Houda Chakiri, Houda Bouamor, Farah Shammout, Soumow Atitallah, Soumia Djoudjou, Bouchra Bouqata, Yasmin Anwar and Balsam Alkouz.

I hope you find my information helpful and useful for you. If you attended the GHC before, or if you’re attending it this year, I would love to hear your experiences and adventure there. Come check more information about ArabWIC online and if you like to hang out with us, don’t forget to join ArabWIC FB group.









Mozilla Tech Speaker Meetup in Berlin!

One month ago, in September, I spent my weekend in Berlin City, visiting the continent of Europe for the first time in my life, attending the Mozilla Tech Speaker meetup, together with Mozilla Tech Speakers from many places around the world.

In this meetup weekend, we spent two full days working together as we presented our 5-minute tech talks to the group. We had the honor to be coached by Denise Graveline, who came from Washington DC just for the meetup, and to learn from her experience coaching top TEDed speakers. We were thrilled by her tips in response to all the questions that come to mind in the tech and public speaking world.

I was really inspired to meet these lovely faces, friends I was used to working with online and had never met before.


Below I will summarize our activities in these two days, and provide some useful tips I learned to improve my tech speaking and public speaking skills.

We started the days at a place called Betahaus, an awesome working space in Berlin, which has unique architecture and entrepreneurship culture; it is an open space which can be rented to host tech and business events.


We were around 30 tech speakers, and each had to deliver a 5 minute tech talk. We did the tech talks in the mornings, so we could have the rest of the day for other activities. We had the chance to get feedback about our talks from the coach Denise Graveline and from the other tech speakers as well.

In the afternoon of the first day, we had the chance to visit Mozilla Berlin Office. And we were lucky to meet George Roter and many other Mozilla staff there, introducing us to the latest projects which Mozilla has been working on actively recently.


On the second day, we had the chance to work on a biography session, improving our tech speaking bios. In addition, we created Mozilla slide decks to introduce Mozilla, Mozilla Dev Relations team, Tech Speakers Program and the Community and Participation team.

Here are a few tips I wrote about speaking, and hopefully you will find them helpful too.

  1. Introduce yourself at the beginning of the talk, but don’t speak too much, a line is enough.
  2. When starting the talk with a story, don’t prepare audience for the story, just start with it. Don’t add unnecessary introductions.
  3. If you start the talk with a story which is strong and funny, build rest of the talk on top of it.
  4. Don’t forget to make eye contact with the audience.
  5. Give your talk at a steady speed. Try to say 120 words per minute, which adds up to 600 words for 5 minutes.
  6. Use useful gestures and try to vary the tone of your voice over the timeline of your talk, based on your content.
  7. Always end your talk with an action: tell your audience what you want them to do.
  8. Use the Rule of 3, which recommends that you always mention 3 major points in your talk, or refer to 3 major points in your story. Similarly, while practicing your talk, focus on 3 main points about the talk, to help you remember them later.
  9. Pause between the main 3 sections of the talk for a few seconds.
  10. What to wear: when preparing for your talk, try to wear a color that does not blend with the wall color in the background behind the speaker’s podium, so you can be seen better on camera.
  11. When choosing the topic for your talk:
    1. Talk about something that interests you, also don’t make your talk too generic, and be unique in a way that makes this talk fit you.
    2. Talk about something you would like to hear and learn more about.
  12. Don’t stay still while talking on the stage, at the same time don’t move too quickly. In short, try to have your own unique style, and use the gestures that work best with your own style of talking.
  13. If you feel you have forgotten an important part of the talk, or you lose the main idea while talking, don’t listen to your brain, just continue the talk with whatever ideas come to mind that are relevant to the talk. This can help you recover the ideas quickly and continue.
  14. If you are organizing a group of talks in a meetup, it is good to have different talks styles and different time slots: 5 min, 8 min, 10 min, etc.
  15. If you are using slides for your talk, make sure to have one thought per slide.
  16. If the info you want to mention is on the slide, it should not come out of your mouth and vice versa.
  17. If you feel anxious about the talk, slow down while talking, try to take deep, slow breathes for seconds.
  18. Slow down while talking if you are not speaking in your own language.
  19. Finally, don’t forget to practice and prepare for the talk. This is so important you should consider it a top priority.

I hope you enjoyed my blog. Big thanks to the Mozilla team who helped make this event awesome! Havi Hoffman, Dietrich Ayala, and Michael Ellis.


See you in future Mozilla events! Keep rocking the open web 🙂



The Best of: TechWomen 2015

Writing about life experiences is something very interesting. Before anything else, it proves to myself what I’m capable of, this is something brings happiness to my heart and shows self respect. Moreover, as I’m considering now my passion in life “Learning and Giving”, I’m working entirely to bring this into life!

Today I’m writing about “Best talks and sessions I attended during the TechWomen” program in the Bay Area, CA.

TechWomen program is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is an exchange professional mentoring program to help inspire and empower next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia.

I finished TechWomen program early of November 2015, after an amazing 35 days of professional mentoring at Mozilla Company, and attending lots of interesting talks and sessions hosted by Silicon Valley tech companies.

Here, I will mention two main sessions we had a chance to attend, hosted by two special companies. And in the coming blogs, I will write more about other sessions and events.

Program Orientation at Symantec

It was my first time ever visiting Symantec Headquarter in Mountain View, CA, and we met there with two awesome speakers who inspired us all with their wisdom and stories.

2015-09-30 08.47.43

Sheila Jordan, the Senior Vice President and the Chief Information Officer for Symantec. Sheila spoke to us about Personal Branding. Through her professional experience and her life journey, she was an inspiration to all the TechWomen group, giving us tips about how to work on our personal branding, and marketing plan, how to find our skills combination and how to be different and unique.

Rushton Hurley, gave us a special inspiring talk about Education and Educational Technologies. One of the best talks I ever attended. If you are in Education sector and looking forward to learn more about this, check the following website: Next Vista for Learning which provides resources and tools for teachers to look into.

One of the inspiring stories which Rushton mentioned is the Austin’s Butterfly story, which I believe is an important story in the learning process that the teachers should listen to, and then explain it to their students.

The other inspiring story he mentioned is called Heart Houses, and it tells the story of school kids trying to make a difference through their art!

Finally, Sue Austin: Deep sea diving … in a wheelchair.

Action Plan Workshop at Theranos.

We had been very lucky this year in the TechWomen program to be hosted by Theranos, for an action plan workshop.

Theranos, is a health-technology and medical-laboratory-services company based in Palo Alto, California. Founded by Elizabeth Holmes, who is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, who is working in field of high tech and health. We had a great chance to meet with her, hear from her startup experience, hear more about her passion and what steps took her to make the health information easily accessible for everyone by simple blood test that you can actually take at home with simple blood tests tools. More about Theranos.

The first session was about Brand Marketing and Social Media, given by Patrick O’Neill Chief Creative Officer at Theranos, and Jodi Shelley Director of Consumer Insights and Planning at Theranos. This one was focused on creating brand love, and reaching to customers by creating a caring product, engage with customers and understand their needs. After that, when designing a brand, to understand what is your message and how to communicate it effectively. A powerful brand has purpose, memorability and relevance.

Two famous brands stories had been discussed, Apple brand story and Unilever brand new video which touches the hearts, “Why bring a Child into this World?”.

The next session was about Agile Methodology, given by Cathy Simpson, who is a Scrum Trainer and Coach at Agile Learning Labs.


Finally we had a chance to had a session about Making an Effective Pitch given by Andrea Barrica, Venture Partner at 500 Startups. In the following, some summarized tips to help making an effective pitch:

  1. Know your goal, know your audience. Hint: prepare more than one pitch.
  2. Tell a strategic story. Takes from 30 – 90 seconds. Taking into consideration this question: how does my story help me achieve my goal?
  3. Less is more! Be selective about details, it is about the other person.
  4. Know your special Sauce ! (Your team, your cause, your technology, etc).
  5. 20:1 rule! Practice 20 minutes loud for each 1 minute you want to present.
  6. You should have an authentic presence, yet quite powerful.



What does it mean to be a Mozillian?

On this day, 31st of Dec, as I’m leaving 2015 year and saying a proper good bye, I couldn’t come up with new resolutions for the upcoming on the corner new year 2016. It is not easy at all, to think about things that you want to definitely be doing all the coming 12 months of your life.
I have a lot and a lot of ongoing projects and I’m putting all my efforts into them, but looking back to 2015, trying to remember the most amazing things I loved and I did, I can honestly say: it is two main things, being an intern at Mozilla, and being a mentor at NYUAD hackathon.

And here I go, as I have told my story on being a mentor in NYUAD hackathon previously, now it is time to tell a story of the beautiful days I’ve spent being an intern at Mozilla. 😀

Let me tell you the story of how I got there. Yes It is something very unique. I always wanted to get the chance to work for a big awesome web company. So how about having this dream coming true? For a whole month (October 2015) I was a mentee and intern at Mozilla and my mentor was Rina Jensen who I was shadowing and learning from her experience, and working with her on my own project which is Education for Refugees. I got the chance to be an intern there by getting accepted in the TechWomen program 2015, an initiative by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which is by itself a very special and prestigious program that gathered 99 women in tech from 19 countries, and yes I will write a separate blog about it, mentioning all amazing events and site visits we had in October.

What to remember from those times? Or the proper question should be: What things I never forgot about being a Mozillian?

  1. You always belong. Being a Mozillian means you always belong here, you are welcomed to be part of this community all the time. Just come with new ideas and bring your efforts on the table and you’ll be up and ready.
  2. The awesome Mozilla spaces. (They are every where!) Do you know how awesome to visit a Mozilla space every single day? I simply love these posters on the walls!
  3. Rina Jensen. Yes, my awesome mentor! Who I spent most of my time there with her, learning from her experience, she gave me resources, inspiration, thoughts, ideas and opened my eyes on new fields in user experience and user research, a field I always enjoyed and wanted to learn more about it, and while being there I enjoyed attending meetings with her team and learned methods and techniques in User Research.
    2015-10-27 16.37.00
  4. Mozillians Mentors: Larissa Shapiro, Rina Jensen, Lizz Noonan, Marcia Knous, Rachel McGuigan, Krupa Raj, Lindsay Saunders, and Ilana Segall. These are the awesome fairies who made our time at Mozilla awesome and beneficial. They organized a lot of meetings for us with different departments and people at Mozilla. We had the chance to meet Mozillians from different projects and departments, in HR, global engagement and diversity team, User Experience team, Virtual Reality team, Branding and Marketing, top management, Spacing and Events, IT and Developers. They opened the place for us, they encouraged us to ask questions, and look for details. We felt like we have been in our home companies, we have been truly Mozillians.
  5. Mozillians TechWomen fellows, yes we were 6 TechWomen mentees at Mozilla, distributed between San Francisco space and Mountain View space. Ayah Soufan, Esraa Abdelhalim, Lara Ammar, Mutriba Akhmedova, Kumba Musa and me, each one of us is unique, different, and I learned from them listening to their professional and personal stories.
  6. Executive Chairwoman of the Mozilla, Mitchell Baker! Yes we had an exclusive internal meeting with the Chairwoman at Mozilla. She is very inspiring person, we talked with her about our experience as inters, we offered ideas and suggestions, we talked about our projects when we got back to our homes and daily work. Each one of the us the inters had ideas and projects to work on when we got back.
  7. Mozilla Reps: We had the chance to meet George Roter who is leading the Participation Team and Emma Irwin who is a Community Development Team Mozilla Rep. George spoke to us about the participation team and the role they play at Mozilla, and he spoke to us about the power of people and the open internet. In addition to that Emma spoke to us about the Mozilla Reps, a program to empower the Mozillians volunteers who would like to be a reps for Mozilla in their region, and also about WebMaker, which is a software allows webmakers to create content and understand how the web works.
  8. community! I used it to find Mozillians (either the employees, reps or the volunteers) from around the world, who helped me to collect info and thoughts about the project idea I was working on while I was at Mozilla.
  9. Work Meetings! The way the meetings are done at Mozilla, how each one is arranging their daily work with meetings and the punctuality of time. Especially my mentor Rina, she is the perfect in leading meetings and get things done 😀
  10. Rally for the user! Yes, building all these awesome tools considering the benefits for the user. Even though I couldn’t attend that event, it was very important to me to read about it, and know what Firefox is bringing to the user is really something unique, and how to give back the control and security to the user.
  11. Web developers :D. Yes I met with developers, Dev Tools developers, UI designers and other people. I was happy to interview them and learning about how they do their jobs on a daily level, how they deal with releases, products defects, working under pressures, working with other developers around the world either in the same time zone of different times zones.

Finally, I can honestly say that while writing all these words, I kept smiling, remembering all the previous awesome moments of being at Mozilla. And so, at the end I really send my thankful words to everyone helped me making my dream coming true, my mentors and TechWomen team, and I promise to keep putting all my efforts in continuous learning and inspiring next generations!

Photo Credits: special thanks for Mutriba Akhmedova, Lizz Noonan and Larissa Shapiro.

NYUAD ArabWIC Conference 2015 – UAE

قبل شهرين من الآن ، كنت على موعد مع رحلة جديدة، لكن هذه المرة كانت رحلة مختلفة عن غيرها من الرحلات!

سافرت إلى دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة للمرة الثانية، حيث دعيت لحضور مؤتمر النساء العربيات في مجال الحوسبة والتكنولوجيا لعام 2015 والذي عقد بالشراكة مع جامعة نيو يورك أبو ظبي، في حرم الجامعة في مدينة أبو ظبي.

كانت هذه ليست المرة الأولى التي أعرف عن هذا المؤتمر، فقد كنت خلال سنة ونصف قبلها على علم ومعرفة كاملة بمنظمة النساء العربيات في مجال التكنولوجيا Arab Women in Computing. كنت أتابع أخبارها على حساب المجموعة على فيس بوك، وأتابع أخبار السيدات العربيات المتميزيات في هذه المنظمة سواء في المجال الأكاديمي أو المجال المهني ، وكنت قد عرفت عن المؤتمر لأول مرة في عام 2013، من خلال اشتراكي في القائمة البريدية لموقع المنظمة.

ما لم أكن أعرفه هو تلك التفاصيل المهمة حول المؤتمر والمنظمة، لماذا أنشأت؟ وماذا تسعى لتقدم بشكل متميز للمرأة العربية؟

هذا فعلا ما لمسته وتعرفت عليه بشكل أكبر خلال المؤتمر الذي كان يومين كاملين في مدينة أبو ظبي.

هذا المؤتمر تم إنشاءه بدعم من جامعة نيو يورك أبو ظبي، وبرئاسة وتنظيم البروفيسورة سناء عودة من جامعة نيو يورك وجامعة نيو يورك ابو ظبي، وهي المؤسسة لمنظمة النساء العربيات في مجال الحوسبة والتكنولوجيا. هذه المنظمة أنشأت لتكون حاضنة للمرأة العربية المهتمة في هذا المجال، لتوفر الدعم والمساندة والإلهام والتحفيز والتغطية الاعلامية للمرأة العربية وإبراز دورها الحقيقي الذي لعبته ولا تزال تلعبه في مجال التكنولوجيا والحوسبة في العالم العربي.

المؤتمر كان على مدى يومين كاملين، في اليوم الأول كان هناك جلسة امتدت لمنتصف النهار لتناقش واحدة من أهم الأنشطة البحثية التي بدأت فيها المنظمة وهو بحث يدرس دور المرأة العربية في المجال الدراسي والمجال المهني في التكنولوجيا في مختلف الدول العربية ويعرض احصائيات وارقام واقعية حول حال المرأة العربية في مجال الحوسبة.

NYUAD 2015 Conf

هذا البحث الذي يستمر العمل عليه للسنة الثالثة، ستكون نتائجه النهائية عما قريب، وسيظهر في بحث كامل يعرض حقائق عن دور المرأة في المجال التقني والحوسبي في العالم العربي، ويعرض الكثيرمن الفرص التي بإمكان المرأة العربية العمل عليها، وأيضا بعض المشكلات التي تواجهها.

في الجلسات الأخرى خلال المؤتمر، أعجبتني الجلسات الحوارية ، والتي تناولت مجموعة من المواضيع منها:

جلسة تتعلق في المجال البحثي والأكاديمي: جمعت عدد من الطالبات العربيات المتميزات في التعليم العالي، في مجال الحاسوب ، واللواتي يدرسن في جامعات عالمية سواء في برامج البكالوريوس أو الماجستير أو الدكتوراة.

جلسة في المجال الريادي: جمعت ريادات من مشاريع مختلفة، ومسؤولات من حاضنات ومسرعات أعمال عربية مثل Flat6Labs وFastForward وPotential.

أما الجلسة التي شاركت بها، كانت حول العمل في قطاع الحوسبة وتكنولوجيا المعلومات، فقد جمعت هذه الجلسة سيدات يعملن في قطاعات مختلفة في الحوسبة حول العالم ومن شركات مختلفة، وقد شاركن تجاربهن حول الصعوبات التي واجهنها، وكذلك أهم قواعد النجاح بنظرهن.

الكثير من الكلمات الابداعية، والمشاعر المتأججة التي تحفز في داخلي الرغبة القوية في السعي قدما نحو تحقيق حلمي، سيدات متميزات كل منهن ساهمت في البحث العلمي، أو المجال الريادي، أو العمل المهني في كبرى شركات البرمجة حول العالم، وأخريات أسسن منظمات ومؤسسات بحثية أو مهنية تساعد المرأة العربية.

كل منهن وهي تروي قصتها، تعرج على نقاط تحول وتغيير في حياتها، وتخبرنا من خلال قصتها، كيف يجب على المرأة العربية أن تكون مرنة، مؤمنة بحلمها، وفي ذات الوقت قادرة على التعامل مع المشكلات التي قد تحول في لحظات معينة من حياتنا من قدرتنا على تحقيق رغباتنا وطموحاتنا المهنية والحياتية.

كتبتها أنا آلاء شاهين في 16 يوليو 2015

My participation in NYUADHack 2015!

Yup! I had been to one of the most amazing events!

“NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World” 2015!

Three weeks ago I was in another country, visiting the UAE for the first time in my life, attending very special event. I was part of an exceptional event for hacking the technology to use for Social Good in the Arab World. This awesome event is called “NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World”. (For more info: )

I can honestly tell you it is one of the transitional experiences in my life. Over 110 students from all over the world with professional mentors coming with different skills and backgrounds, gathers all at New York University Abu Dhabi, in one of the most awesome cities in MENA region, Abu Dhabi, to hack software and hardware and work on developing technology solutions to help the MENA region solve its problems.

Check the “First ever aerial group photo of ‪#‎nyuadhack 2015 participants!”

ParticipantsParticipants in the Hackathon!

The efforts have been added to this event are exceptional. Weeks before the event everybody was working side by side just to make it happens perfectly. I had the chance to be a mentor in this event, which means to be responsible for a team of students side by side with other Arab and international mentors. Moreover, weeks before the event I have the chance to work both in Software and Ideation committees preparing software tools, ideation strategy, ideation themes and other info to help students get ready for the hackathon. At the same time, everyone started to engage and talk informally in the group on Facebook and share ideas and knowledge.

On the day arriving to the city of Abu Dhabi, my heart couldn’t stop beating knowing that I’m visiting a city I was dreaming to go to. Abu Dhabi is a lovely city; there I always wanted to see New York University, Masdar Institute and Masdar city, and finally the Grand Mosque (Sheikh Zayed Mosque).

Sheikh Zayed Mosque


IMG_0084Sheikh Zayed Mosque; Photo Credit is for@Ayah Soufan

Attending an event I wanted to attend two years before and finally had the chance to be part of it. Amazing Arab tech women finally I got the chance to meet in person and of course meeting the awesome Prof. Sana’ Odeh (@sanaodehny) from New York University.

On the day of the event, we arrived early in the morning to the university. The first day is really awesome, all are happy, energetic, and lots of ideas are flying around. People sat together talking and introduced themselves to each other.

The event kicked off with lightening talks! There was a group of inspiring speakers talks about API tools. Other inspirational talks about Social Good in the MENA region delivered by 3 awesome entrepreneurs: Abdallah Absi (@abdabsi) founder of Zoomal, Kamel Al-Asmar (@kamelasmar) founder of Nakhweh, Dina Sherif (@Dinasherif) founder of Ahead of the Curve and many other people.

Lightening tech talks were so much useful! They were all introducing new technologies or APIs that the students can use during the hackathon or they can build up a research using it later on. Some examples such as: Firebase and Meteor, also lightening talks about Data Visualization and Data Science.

Then we started with the ideation themes, mentors from the event gave 3 to 5 minutes about the main themes the students can work on: health, education, civic development, environment, refugees, economic mobility and jobs, in addition to hardware hacking using sensors and wearable devices.

Me is giving a lightening talk
That’s me, giving a 3 minutes talk about Health Theme; Photo Credit is for@Ayah Soufan

To get more insights about what happened in the hackathon look to the hashtag #‎nyuadhack on Twitter.

Here are random Photos from the Action there!












My Team #Farfesh; Photo Credit is for@Ayah Soufan


To meet the students and the mentors in this hackathon: and

How to Register for this Hackathon Next Year?

This hackathon is open for students from all universities to participate in. Also the professionals can be mentors in this event. Both Applications for mentors and students will be open usually each year between Nov and Dec. To get info about the application please keep following the Hackathon Facebook Page: ( and check their official website:
Also, the hackathon is very supportive for outstanding students from the MENA region in computing fields and they will get a chance to be accepted.

My Experience with #Farfesh (CheerMeApp) and Tips to succeed in a hackathon!

The hackathon was a three days event. The students choose an idea to work on after the ideation and team formation finishes. In this hackathon each team should have at least one Arab mentor and one international mentor with group of Arab and International students. The most important thing is really to work with new people and have a diverse team in which will enhance the work and more importantly prevent the Groupthink phenomena (which was a new thing I read about before the hackathon, and I totally agree with it: )

I believe in my team #Farfesh, we were able to have a diverse team, dynamic and everyone has a reason why they want to work on this idea. #Farfesh (CheerMeApp) is basically a web app which searches the content on the internet and brings the happy positive content to the users who need to cheer up and listen to good stories which inspire them to do more great things. Moreover, the users can post their own happy stories to cheer up others.

Few tips I would like to mention here to enjoy and succeed in a hackathon:

  1. Why to work on #Farfesh?

I’ve learned that the first question you ask to yourself once you joined a team – especially in a hackathon – is: why do you want to join this team? Why do you want to work on this idea? What differences does it make to you? And what differences are you going to bring to it?

  1. Gather the team members’ thoughts and ideas about the idea!

Get your team members to speak about their thoughts, feelings and ideas related to the idea you’ll be working on. This will get everyone all on the same page especially at the beginning and will review each one expectation.

  1. Brain storm together before writing any line of code.

It is very important at the beginning that the team members think about what they are going to build? Who will use it and Why? By doing this, you will be able to identify lots of things about your idea. Think as much as you can and write down with your team all the ideas and the scenarios that will benefit the user of this product. Do not pre-judge the ideas, just think with your team and write everything.

  1. Now it is time to know what to build!

After all the team members know what and why they are building this, they can decide what should be in this product!

  • Build the most important feature of the product.
  • Have a “must have” and “nice to have” list, and work on the must to have one first.
  • Work on the wire-frames! Go through the pages you want to build and the functionality goes in each one. Draw the most important layout helps you arrange the work and the design early in the process.
  • Decide the three components of the project and the APIs you’re going to use, such as: how is the data will be stored? What database to use? What is the structure you need for the database and what are the entities? Then what is the business logic to build? What are the most important actions in this business logic and what code should be written in each one? Finally have a look to the design needed for the wire-frames and let the designer work on that.
  1. Clear rules and tasks! Help each team member to have a clear role and task to work on. Keep them focus on what to build (the must have list first).
  2. Review the progress. Agree all on a time during the hackathon, every few hours of each day for example to review what you have built and you need to do next.
  3. Finally, use APIs and technologies that help you prototype your idea into a real product and build the most important features first. Decide if you’re going to build a web app or a mobile app, then search the tools and the APIs which can give you the most out of it in two days. We used Meteor for our web app (, and the students in the team were able to use JavaScript and MongoDB to build it with CSS and HTML for the design.

At the end, I really would like to thank my awesome team #Farfesh, I was really happy to work with you all: @Geoffrey Litt, @Ahmed Ali, @Hieu Hoang, @Abdelrahman Al Harahsheh, @Paula Dozsa, @Jumana Sultan and the awesome cheerful girl @Houda Bouamor.