DUBAI // Abdulrahman al Suwaidi wants his home country to be give a better welcome to tourists.
So the 44-year-old Emirati from Dubai came up with a simple plan: put a box of tourist information brochures in every taxi at the airport and other places popular with visitors.
He drew up a one-page proposal, which he said would be "very cheap to implement", and entered it for the Manchester Innovation Award. But, he insisted, it barely crossed his mind that he could actually win.
"It was very unexpected," he said on Wednesday night after collecting his trophy and certificate from Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research.
The first runners-up were Aisha al Hamiz and Mariam al Hallami with their idea of creating a university-based entrepreneur "incubator" for young student Emiratis.
"The idea is not only to make a profit, but also to give back to the community and share in its growth, building a team of experienced students that are able to run a business, be a part of its economic development and provide employment opportunities for Emiratis," Ms al Hamiz said.
In third place were Fatma al Mazrooqi and Zahra al Dahmani, who came up with an innovative way of avoiding luggage hassles at the airport. Their plan would let passengers drop their luggage at checkpoints at malls prior to flights. The luggage would then be taken to the airport and checked in.
"We have big families here and we fly a lot, and we need another car just for luggage. It is such a big hassle," said Ms al Dahmani, a 30-year-old from Dubai. "With this, you can just go to the airport 30 minutes before your flight. It is so simple and everyone would benefit, especially young adults."
In fourth place was Amna al Fard. Her idea was to start an arts and crafts cafe exclusively for women.
"There is no place for ladies to go to here except clubs, which is really just a gym," she said. "This cafe would be a place for ladies to go just for entertainment, and they can bring in their arts and crafts, which will fill the whole cafe."
Marwan al Kindi's idea of creating the first tourist company focusing on true Emirati culture gained fifth place.
"The tourist companies here take tourists into the desert to watch belly dancing - this is not even in our culture," the 29-year-old from Dubai said. "We are a minority and they should know some of our traditions and about our lives."
Sheikh Nahyan introduced the five winners, who will share prize money of Dh350,000, and congratulated all the entrants.
The award, run by Manchester Business School, was established last year in the Asia-Pacific. This year it ran in Abu Dhabi to give Emiratis the chance to get creative.
Professor Michael Luger, the dean of the Manchester Business School in the UK and one of the judges, said all of the more than 100 entries could be used to create jobs in the UAE. Mr al Suwaidi is currently in discussions with the Roads and Transport Authority to put his plan into action early next year.