Meet The Finalists Of Dubai Startup Hub's Smartpreneur Competition 6.0: Manhat

"Our inspiration is the natural water cycle in geographical locations where water availability never requires human interference."

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Manhat is one of the top 10 startups pitching for prizes worth a total of AED150,000 at the finals of Dubai Startup Hub’s Smartpreneur Competition 6.0, which will be staged as part of Entrepreneur Middle East’s Enterprise Agility Forum 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai on January 20, 2022. Register HERE to be a part of the event. 

Manhat
Dr. Saeed Alhassan Alkhazraji, founder and CEO, Manhat

Dr. Saeed Alhassan Alkhazraji, founder and CEO of Manhat, a deep technology startup that provides sustainable water production solutions without desalination, found the idea that he’d turn into a business in nature itself. "Our inspiration is the natural water cycle in geographical locations where water availability never requires human interference,” Dr. Alkhazraji says. "Our solution contributes to the overall knowledge in the field by providing key insights into how we should produce water directly, without electricity and any additional products, on open water surfaces, which basically cover 70% of the earth surface.” 

Using his expertise as an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Senior Director at the Petroleum Institute at Khalifa University, Dr. Alkhazraji -who was also the first recipient of the inaugural Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Award for Scientific Excellence in 2017- was keen to contribute to solving the water scarcity challenge. "We have developed a technology to produce water directly from open water surfaces, and our business model is designed around providing water in coastline communities with irrigation being its main application,” he explains. "The challenge for us is the fact that we are working on a novel, physical science-based concept that requires optimization and research and development.”  

The Manhat Team. Source: Manhat

Having been selected as one of the finalists of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition 6.0 organized by Dubai Startup Hub, the entrepreneurship arm of Dubai Chamber, Manhat is now getting set for the contest’s finals that will be staged as part of Entrepreneur Middle East’s Enterprise Agility Forum 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai on January 20, 2022. For Dr. Alkhazraji, one of the challenges he foresees in this competition will be in communicating his startup’s vision. "I think that most of us understand the water scarcity issue to a certain extent, but explaining the nuances of this challenge will hopefully allow us to be effective in communicating and presenting our startup and its solution,” he says. "Being judged is always challenging, but startup founders develop thicker skins after each presentation, and that is exactly what they should focus on- learning how to adapt to feedback at each corner. Finally, knowing the room and appreciating the audience is immensely important.” 

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Besides preparing for the finals of the Dubai Smartpreneur Competition 6.0, Dr. Alkhazraji and his team at Manhat are also getting ready to embark on a new stage of the business. "We are currently preparing to launch a pilot scale test for our technology, which will allow us enough time and space to optimize it for specific applications,” he says. "In parallel, we are planning to conduct specific projects for clients in order to provide an alternative solution to their water needs in advantageous locations like islands.” 

Dr. Saeed Alhassan Alkhazraji, founder and CEO of Manhat. Source: Manhat

In his opinion, the UAE has already demonstrated to be a fertile and lucrative location to set up shop for entrepreneurs, and in support of this claim, he shares three insights about the local market. “Here, we have the flexibility of regulations, access to capital, and finally a large open labs for experimenting and testing futuristic ideas.” 

Due to his wealth of experience in developing a physical science-based startup that uses research and development as its key differentiator, Dr. Alkhazraji also advises entrepreneurs to know their intellectual property rights and how to protect them in UAE. "This is crucial for any business, but it is even more important for R&D based startups that need to understand how to protect their assets,” he explains. “Also, I’d advise them to choose their manufacturing strategy wisely. If you are building a physical device, you have to know how to protect your business, and so it is important to know what to manufacture where, and to manage this supply chain in an effective manner. Lastly, make sure to use the UAE government’s programs for supporting entrepreneurs, because these can be helpful in advancing your business." 

Manhat is one of the top 10 startups pitching for prizes worth a total of AED150,000 at the finals of Dubai Startup Hub’s Smartpreneur Competition 6.0, which will be staged as part of Entrepreneur Middle East’s Enterprise Agility Forum 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai on January 20, 2022. Register HERE to be a part of the event. 

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