At 14, Neeam Al Harrasi is actively engaged in saving oceans from plastic pollution and is working to meet the challenges arising from the growing bans on single-use plastics all over the world, including in her home country, Oman.
In the 10th grade she invented a new type of bioplastic using natural elements available in Oman, such as rice water and fish scales. She hopes that using local materials would make the mass production of the bioplastics more affordable. She worked with her friend Do’aa Al Hashmi as part of a school project to develop a decomposable plastic that is of similar quality to industrial plastic. The first version of the bioplastic she developed was too weak but with trial and error she improved the bioplastic into a hard yet flexible material that could be used, for example, to make plastic cutlery.
I made it stronger over time after doing more research and learning that oil makes plastic weaker. I then tested out the new version of the bioplastic in my school lab to make sure it works better. – Neeam Al Harrasi, Omani Inventor.
Good ideas for the greater good
Neeam’s bioplastic innovation won first place in the “Cognitive Development Competition” that was held as part of Oman’s Science Festival in 2019. She was encouraged to enter the competition by her physics teacher Ms. T. Dhikra Al Harrasi, at Al Rustaq School in Muscat. She learned about the importance of protecting her intellectual property (IP) during the competition, which inspired her new passion for innovation and IP. Since then, she has filed a patent for her bioplastics innovation with the Intellectual Property Department of Oman. She hopes that her invention can be used in different parts of the world.
I want to learn more about IP in school too, as it is very useful to anyone who is creative and innovative… to anyone with a good idea really. –
Neeam Al Harrasi, Omani Inventor.
Neeam is WIPO’s first IP Youth Ambassador for Oman, and is first to hold the title in the Arab Region. She is committed to promoting IP education among young people through WIPO Academy’s Intellectual Property for Youth and Teachers (IP4Youth&Teachers) service.
My best advice to anyone who is starting to invent new things, is to not worry at the beginning. It is very normal that at the start, the invention won’t come out perfectly, so just keep at it and eventually you will get there. – Neeam Al Harrasi, Omani Inventor.
Neeam wants to become a chemical engineer in the future. Her favorite school subjects are chemistry, physics and mathematics. She looks up to many chemical engineering influencers on Instagram and dreams of following in their footsteps. Neeam credits her physics teacher and her parents for supporting and mentoring her throughout the invention process and the competition. They also advised her on how to balance her time between school and extracurricular commitments, as the innovation competition was held at the same time as her final exams. Neeam devotes a lot of her time for self-study as she enjoys researching different topics that help her come up with new ideas to improve the inventions she is developing with her school team.
The best part about innovating at school is working in a group, because it breeds innovative ideas since each group member has a different way of thinking. – Neeam Al Harrasi, Omani Inventor.
Neeam plans to continue reading books and watching videos of other inventors, particularly chemical engineers, so she can learn from them and their processes. She mentors her junior peers as they embark on their innovative journeys through the school’s extracurricular competitions. Her quest is to develop new innovations that can save the planet.