Among stiff competition from a variety of strong applicants, these candidates stood out. Find out what makes their story unique and check out who was voted for the most inspirational story for the 'People's Choice Award'.


Mr Hamad Alyafei


Mr. Hamad Alyafei graduated from the University of Derby with M.A in Business Administration Global in 2018 and with a B.Eng (honours) in Electronics & Communications Engineering from London Metropolitan University in 2000.

As an Engineer from the year 2000 to 2014, Hamad played an important role in building up the modern telecommunications infrastructure of Qatar, been appointed as Senior Manager Transmission Network in Ooredoo. Delivering many major projects, such as FOG cable, QATAR-UAE Marine Cable, and FLAG International Cable, projects which protect and secure Qatari International Traffic for data, internet, and more.

Hamad also worked on upgrading the infrastructure to be able to handle the fast growth of mobile network demand and internet fiber-optic speed. Hamad was the first Qatari to test and deploy DWDM technology in the middle east, helping rural areas by deploying a British technology in microwave connection to Stritch telecommunications to Qatari houses anywhere in Qatar with affordable and sometimes free services.

In 2014, Hamad move to the oil and gas field sector taking over the Training & Nationalisation Manager role, where he is directly responsible to deliver qualified engineers and various disciplines who would be responsible for multi-billion-dollar state of art petrochemical facilities.

In 2018, with a close relationship with the University of Derby, Hamad launched the first full-time MBA program designed based on British Curriculum and directed to global business administration requirements leading to CMI certification. The program was successful with its first batch receiving 16 Qatari managers followed by another 14 students.

During his time in Ooredoo, Hamad has shaped many engineers and prepared them for leadership roles, participating in many career fairs, enrolling many students in the British education system to help shape their education from college until degree level. 

Hamad is currently opting to do a Ph.D. in the education sector which would increase the knowledge and ability to teach in universities and be a pillar in shaping Qatari's minds.

Dr Marc Owen Jones


Dr Marc Owen Jones is an Assistant Professor in Middle East Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, which specializes in tackling the growing scourge of digital disinformation. Marc graduated from Durham University (Ph.D., MSc) and Cardiff University (BA Hons) specialising in Government and International Relations. Durham University gave Marc a unique balance of pastoral and academic experience that formed the basis for the critical skills needed to fuse an academic career with human rights advocacy. 

After graduating with a 1st from Cardiff University, Marc spent a year in Sudan teaching English and improving his Arabic, before getting a CASAW full scholarship to do an MSC in Arab World Studies, a course taught across the Universities of Damascus, Edinburgh, and Durham, earning him an MSc with distinction, and received a number of prestigious scholarship offers, including from UPenn and Leicester University. Instead, choosing to stay at Durham after being awarded the ESRC/AHRC Ph.D. scholarship.

Marc began his Ph.D. in 2011, with a thesis on documenting the history of political repression in Bahrain.  Helping him set up and becoming the director of an NGO called Bahrain Watch. The team won hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding from organisations such as HIVOS, Lush, and Access Now for pioneering forensic research on human rights.  Among many successes was preventing millions of tear gas canisters from being shipped to Bahrain from South Korea and tracking the use of spyware to harm human rights activists.  

In 2016, the Ph.D. thesis won the prestigious Best Thesis Award from the Association of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Studies. At only 32 years of age, Marc secured a permanent post at Exeter University's Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. Which led him to receive the department 'above and beyond award', and was nominated by the Students' Guild for best and most innovative lecturer. This made Marc noticed and was headhunted for his current position at HBKU, where he won the faculty excellence award two years in a row since joining in 2018.

Marc’s pioneering work on disinformation and digital technology has helped expose malicious influence campaigns targeting people across the globe. Having written 15 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, edited two books, and published his first monograph with Cambridge University Press, been cited in over 70 op-eds, including the Washington Post, the New Statesman, CNN, the Guardian, and in 2018, featured as the New York Times 'quote of the day'. Also, appearing in numerous documentaries, news, and radio shows, including on the BBC, LBC, Al Jazeera, and Deutsche Welle.

In addition to reaching millions of people through the media, Marc often called to consult and advise ambassadors and legal experts on issues of gulf politics and disinformation.

Marc is currently writing his next book with Hurst/Oxford University Press (2021) on the topic of disinformation in the Middle East and training the new EU team in disinformation tracking techniques.

Prof. Dr Samer Ahmed

Dr. Samer Ahmed graduated from Cambridge University with a Ph.D. in Engineering. Samer has gained many skills during his study in Cambridge. He believes that the most important one is critical thinking and how to think out of the box to find innovative solutions for any problem that he faces, which is the unique thing about the education at Cambridge University.

As a professor at Qatar University, Dr. Samer sought new unconventional teaching methods to engage and interact with his students. Therefore, coming up with an innovative idea to deliver a course in a form of an animation video game. The innovation was well received and obtained Dr. Samer the Qatar Innovation Promotion Award in 2015. In addition, received a $100,000 grant and joined the accelerator program to develop the idea from conception to execution. Dr. Samer is also currently establishing a company to develop similar games for other courses. 

In addition, Dr. Samer is currently developing technologies and inventions to significantly reduce emissions produced from internal combustion engines and, in particular, Diesel engines by using one of the contributing emissions as a renewable fuel source – that being biogas fuel from Qatar’s high organic waste production. This technology would economically save around QAR 12M every year for the diesel fuel to run the waste-collection trucks and environmentally, improve Qatar’s air quality. An agreement between the Qatar University and the Ministry was signed to convert one model truck to work with biogas prompting the project successfully and created a great impact in the media. Currently, the Ministry is trying to build a station for this fuel to be used on a wide scale.  

The idea also won Dr. Samer and his Cambridge colleagues at Newcastle University the only UK-Gulf Institutional Links 2016 Award offered to Qatar.

Moreover, Dr. Samer is now communicating with major automotive companies around the world to present his patent “A smokeless exhaust tube” that is capable of eliminating completely smoke emissions produced from diesel vehicles and equipment. which can significantly improve the air quality in Qatar and globally. 

Dr. Samer Ahmed’s research about understanding the mechanisms of spark ignition of turbulent flames has also been used by major aviation companies such as Rolls Royce to develop cleaner jet engines for airplanes. 

Mr Ekram Ali Syed


Ekram Ali Syed graduated from London South Bank University LSBU with an M.Sc. in Building Services Engineering and attributes his leadership and critical thinking skills exclusively to LSBU, leading to a gratifying path of continuous professional development of his own and others. Starting from 2006 in Dubai, Ekram was involved in numerous high-profile projects such as Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Metro, and the world's tallest tower Burj Khalifa. During this period, Ekram remained focussed on his Professional Development Plan, and achieved Chartered Engineer status CEng, with the Engineering Council of UK, in Jan 2010. 

The Chartered Engineer status took Ekram to a whole new level, landing him the opportunity with White Young Qatar to successfully establish and develop a new MEP [Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing] Engineering department. In another two years, he was able to expand his portfolio to include Sustainability Design as well. Ekram and his department of over 50 design engineers have been instrumental in designing various projects from the Commercial, Government and Military sectors; including projects such as General Head Quarters,  and Military Police Camp, and major projects for Qatar Armed forces, along with Palaces for the Royal Family.

Ekram subsequently achieved the International Professional Engineer credential, through the Engineering Council of UK, in 2014 and became the Chairman of CIBSE Qatar Chapter. His involvement with CIBSE has further expanded his abilities and contribution to the MEP Industry, raising Engineering standards, and always kept him focussed and committed to continuous professional development CPD. Also, received an award for the Sustainability Initiatives in Qatar, and delivered CPD presentations at various MEP seminars. With an active career of over 20 years in Engineering, Ekram is now pursuing his second M.Sc., this time in Psychology, via distance learning from Northumbria University, UK, since Jan 2020. His intent is to further expand his capabilities to connect and develop deeper relationships and create new opportunities.

Ekram is promoting Design Thinking, Sustainability, and Innovative solutions in all projects, and is actively Mentoring Engineers and encouraging the professional development of others, raising the overall Engineering standards since 2011.