Masdar Institute Student Wins Etihad Airways’ Fikra Competition

September 21, 2018

A Masdar Institute Master’s student has won the ‘Guest Experience’ challenge of the inaugural Fikra Competition for her innovative in-flight entertainment system that enables passengers to discover their destinations and plan their trips from the sky.

Lamis Abu Ashour, from MI’s Sustainable Critical Infrastructure Program, was awarded for her project, titled ‘Citywalk,’ during the Fikra Final Award Ceremony, which was held at the Etihad Airways Training Academy Auditorium on 23 May 2017.

Fikra is a UAE-based competition sponsored by Etihad Aviation Group aimed at fostering entrepreneurship and innovation across the country. The competition encouraged students to find solutions to some of the aviation industry’s major challenges, which it divided into ten categories.

Abu Ashour’s Citywalk was shortlisted from over 2600 ideas submitted in the first phase of the competition, becoming one of 20 applicants selected for the final round. After spending a month further developing her idea and preparing her final presentation during the mentoring phase, which was delivered to a jury that included Etihad senior management, Abu Ashour then beat out ten of the 20 shortlisted applicants, becoming the winner the ‘Guest Experience’ category of the challenge. As a winner, Abu Ashour has been offered a six-month internship with French-based Thales Group to have the opportunity to develop herself and her idea in a professional environment.

Dr. Abdulla Al Hefeiti, Interim Dean of Students and Dean of Library, Masdar Institute, said: “Congratulations to Lamis for her award-winning and insightful in-flight entertainment service idea. Lamis’ ingenuity and innovative thinking is a testament to Masdar Institute’s commitment to attracting and developing some of the world’s most promising problem-solvers. Lamis’ participation also reflects the Institute’s commitment to cultivating a research culture focused on fostering solutions for key UAE industries such as aviation. I am looking forward to seeing Lamis excel in her research and all of her future endeavors.”

Abu Ashour developed Citywalk as a way to enable airline passengers to plan their trip, essentially creating a personalized travel itinerary, while still in the air. The service will provide airlines with an additional revenue stream, by allowing companies to use the Citywalk space to place advertisements. Thus, the service would create more revenue streams for the airline while also enhancing the passenger’s in-flight experience, which will also help to create a more loyal community of airline passengers.

Etihad Airways’ recent revamp of its entire inflight entertainment system provided the perfect context for Abu Ashour’s Citywalk idea. The Abu Dhabi national carrier’s in-flight entertainment service now includes 120 movies, 280 TV shows, 16 radio channels, a 500-CD library and 30 to 60 games that are regularly revised to ensure passengers enjoy new and fresh content. Abu Ashour believes Citywalk would complement these existing entertainment features by providing passengers with an even broader range of value-added entertainment.

“While the original inspiration for Citywalk came from a personal experience, the idea evolved considerably during my mentoring phase. My mentor, Jamal Al-Awadhi of Etihad, was extremely helpful. I also had the chance to talk to specialized workers in the field and I was further enlightened about with insights into the exact field and working procedures,” Abu Ashour said.

Abu Ashour credits Masdar Institute in part for her success, citing Masdar Institute’s commitment to nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship among its students with the goal of supporting local industries and solving pressing challenges. She is especially grateful for the support she has received from her supervisor, Dr. Khaled Al Awadi, Assistant Professor of Engineering Systems Management at Masdar Institute.

Erica Solomon
News and Features Writer
28 May 2017