Sixteen teens from Jerusalem’s PICO Kids Ambassadors program traveled to Dubai on December 5 for a groundbreaking five-day summit with peers from the United Arab Emirates.

The Israeli and Emirati teens teamed up for a makeathon at the Dubai Future Foundation to create workable solutions to the water scarcity crisis. They developed prototypes for ideas including desalination facilities, vertical farms and portable bottle caps with integrated filters.

PICO Kids Ambassadors and peers from Dubai at a makeathon for water scarcity solutions. Photo by Barak Alkobi

Representing the multicultural diversity of Jerusalem, the visitors also toured cultural sites and innovation centers and met with Emirati entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders.

“We are all really the same, we were just born in different places in the world,” said a student from Dubai’s Taaleem School.

Another student added, “It’s been an absolutely amazing experience and an opportunity that you can’t get anywhere else. I’ve never met an Israeli before in my whole life. It’s time for peace and if we talk with each other, especially the youth, things will change.”

PICO Kids Ambassadors at the Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park Innovation Center. Photo courtesy of PICO Kids

Over the next three years, PICO Kids aims to create dozens of delegation exchanges, reaching hundreds of kids, said Elie Wurtman, cofounder and managing partner of PICO Venture Partners and founder of PICO Kids.

“Children have a particularly unique vantagepoint to act as innovators and conceive of new ideas in ways that adults might not be able to,” said Wurtman.

“The Abraham Accords have presented a historic vision for collaboration between Israel and the Gulf countries, and it is only natural that the collaborations that we are already seeing on commercial and investment fronts should now be realized among our youth as well.”

Now in its eighth year, PICO Kids is an afterschool science, technology and social entrepreneurship program for 4,000 first- through 12th graders from 60 schools. They get hands-on experience with advanced technologies such as 3D printing, coding, photography and graphic design.

PICO Kids Ambassadors, founded four years ago, has sent delegations to global partner communities in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

To prepare for the PICO Kids Ambassadors mission to Dubai, the 16 student delegates went through training and workshops with experts in the fields of diplomacy, design thinking, public speaking, English and Arabic lessons, storytelling, branding, group dynamics and entrepreneurship.

The mission’s partners were the Taaleem Schools, Target Global, Concert Together for Israel and the US-based Abraham Accords Peace Institute.