Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Meet the 12-year-old Gaza IT geek


From the Electronic Intifada - Twelve-year-olds across the world like their computers. But few take it to the level of Mohammad Alhaulimy.

From a young age, Mohammad has shown a passion for computers, coding and technology, a passion that has been indulged by his family, and which has seen him receive support from other countries and invitations to conferences around the region.

Mohammad built his first mobile application, World Savers, at the age of 9. He sought to raise awareness about global issues such as wars and pollution in a game format. It didn’t go far, and has now been forgotten, but it was a first challenge for the budding coder.

“I wanted to create something of my own, a game or a video … Something that I would appreciate,” Mohammad said as he stared at his Mac.

He attended an International Computer Driving License, ICDL, course when he was 7, to secure the global computer skills certification. But he soon found it was not challenging enough.

“The courses I attended never satisfied me. I turned to the Internet and YouTube searching for what I’ve missed in courses,” he said, as a Facebook notification popped onto his screen.

Mohammad’s family was supportive from the beginning. Luai Mohammad Alhaulimy, Mohammad’s proud teacher father, bought his son a brand new laptop at the age of 10 to encourage him to improve his skills.

His mother Elham, believes her son has a unique and ambitious character that will lead him to success. Yet she worries about the time he spends in front of the screen, where “he sits focused for long hours.”

“I am afraid that his health might be affected. He is my only son,” said Elham. “But I am happy we have a little genius in our house.”

Mohammad’s potential was soon recognized elsewhere. In 2014, he took part in the Microsoft Imagine Cup student technology competition, where he, along with another Palestinian from the West Bank, beat off competition from 500 others to make it through to the final round. more