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Meta Celebrates The Winners Of First Global Spark AR Challenge In The MENA Region The MENA region's first Spark AR challenge was held in collaboration with the UAE Coders HQ, the Museum of the Future, and Lenslist, with Emirates Airline and Accenture serving as strategic partners.

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His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama with the winners of MENA region's first Spark AR Challenge

Meta, the parent company of social media network Facebook, has announced the winners of the MENA region's first Spark AR challenge, in collaboration with the UAE Coders HQ, the Museum of the Future, and Lenslist, which also had Emirates Airline and Accenture serving as strategic partners.

The announcement was done at an event held at the Museum of the Future to mark the completion of the three-week competition. Creators and developers across the world submitted more than 400 augmented reality (AR) effects to showcase their creativity and innovations using the latest Spark AR features.

The participants were challenged to create AR effects around two themes: "Mobility of Tomorrow" for Emirates Airline, and "Opportunities of the Future" for Accenture. Its judging panel consisted of experts from Accenture, Emirates Airline, the Museum of the Future, Lenslist and Meta.

His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications

Spark AR is the software platform developed by Facebook that allows users to create AR effects across Facebook and Instagram. With the platform, developers can create and manage effects that can be used on any face or environment using the front and back camera and try face filters, virtual products, add music and sound effects, and more.

In 2018, Meta added features to include AR experiences, automatic language translation and artificial intelligence tools on Facebook and Instagram, ramping up efforts to create computer-generated experiences, as well as allow social-savvy brands to connect to the audience in an immersive way.

Gathering global and regional experts in the digital field, the event awarded the winners of the Spark AR challenge, as well as gave attendees the opportunity to immerse themselves into the winner's augmented reality (AI) and virtual reality (VR) experiences. In addition to cash prizes amounting to over US$50,000, the winners also have a chance to have their AR effects used on Emirates Airline and Accenture's social media channels.

His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama with the Meta team led by Fares Akkad, Regional Director, MENA

"The future is for all of us to create," said H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, on how partnerships and collaborations were vital to drive AI adoption, create new opportunities and strengthen the UAE's position as a global digital economy. "We are all changemakers, and the UAE proudly welcomes innovators from around the world who want to be part of our attractive, competitive, collaborative, and fast-changing digital environment. Augmented reality has enormous potential to transform how we interact with one another and build deeper, more meaningful relationships in the future."

Also, Fares Akkad, Regional Director, MENA at META talked about the enterprise's vision for the metaverse and the opportunities for businesses, consumers, developers, and policymakers, while Chris Barbour, Director of AR Business Development and Partnerships at Meta noted, "Spark AR is an important step on the road to the next computing platform. This is a future where people will no longer have to choose between people or screens to deepen connections."

The event also hosted a fireside chat between Dr. Sana Farid, Industry Specialist & Chair of the VR/AR Association, and Rashed Al Suwaidi, Associate Project Manager at the Artificial Intelligence Office on how immersive technologies is shaping the future. It also had a panel discussion on the metaverse and upcoming new business models for enterprises and creators alike. It featured speakers Keenan Hamza, VP Technology Futures and Innovation, Emirates Group; Asma Shabab, Senior Manager for Innovation, Accenture; Mariam Al Muhairi, Senior Projects Manager, Dubai Future Foundation; and Joelle Awwad, Head of Policy Programs & Partnerships, Meta.

Related: Dubai's New Virtual Asset Regulation Law Comes Into Effect

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