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4 - 7 DECEMBER 2023


Design The COP UAE



In November 2023, the United Arab Emirates will host the 28th United Nations Climate Change ‘Conference  of the Parties’ (COP28) in Dubai. Thousands of people from all over the world, including heads of state, climate experts, scientists and campaigners, will come together to agree how the world can tackle climate change and achieve net-zero.

Our planet’s built and natural environment needs the best STEAM talent, both now and in the future, so it’s imperative that children and young people are inspired to get involved.

Launched in March this year, award-winning social enterprise ‘Class Of Your Own’ joined forces with Heriot-Watt University and The Big 5 International Building & Construction Show to bring a unique competition to the youth of the UAE.

We challenged teams age 11-18 to design ‘The Centre for Our Planet’ (“The COP”), an exciting space where children and young people can explore the STEAM of climate change.

Heriot-Watt academics, students and AEC professionals from across the UAE have already been supporting registered schools, one of which is Dubai British School - and class teacher Nichola Fisher is delighted:

In image: Heriot-Watt University's Linsey Thomson with Dubai British School pupils


"At Dubai British School, we look for projects and experiences that will inspire our students and build 21st century learning skills.  The COP challenge has done just that and been a fantastic project to enrich the education of our students.  To make it even more 'real life' to hear from professionals and gain one to one support has proved invaluable. It has been a great way to promote STEAM based careers too, roles for both males and females alike. We have now have quite a few students interested in pursuing architecture, engineering and construction in the future!”

Graduate Structural Engineer Tasneem Zedan was in attendance at the Dubai British School event with colleagues from Buro Happold and was inspired by the opportunity to work with Class Of Your Own:

"If we want to build a better world for everyone, then everyone must help build it" this requires the emergence of a wide range of holistic and creative designers of the future that we currently battling to sustain. It has been a pleasure helping Class Of Your Own and Herriot-Watt increase awareness on built environment careers all while getting to see all the exciting ideas and thought structures put into the COP competition. I hope to have inspired half as much as I was!”

With more schools signing up and the holidays looming when we anticipate many children will want to take part with their friends, there’s still chance for you to get involved. Perhaps you could offer webinars offering hints and tips, visit schools when they return in September to critique ideas. You might have children of your own and want to mentor a team throughout the Summer.

The challenge closes on 30th September with judging taking place on Thursday 10th November. Winners will be invited to showcase their designs at The Big 5 on 7th December 2022.

Do get in touch with the team if you’d like to help by contacting [email protected] – let’s join together to educate the future of Construction!

In image: Buro Happold volunteers (L) Rhea Khoury, (C) Pooja Ganatra and (R) Tasneem Zedan


*Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics