NU-Q students to use competition money to start company

Meghan Morris

Four students from Northwestern’s campus in Qatar will start an online digital production company after winning the equivalent of about $8,240 for the project.

The NU-Q students – Ashlene Ramadan, Rana Khaled, Melanie Fridgant and Shannon Farhoud – won second place in a QITCOM innovation competition in early March. They will use the money, 30,000 QR, to develop media focusing on Arab news, according to an NU news release.

“The idea came up when we started realizing the importance of visual media and its impact on the world,” Farhoud wrote in an email to The Daily. “There is a high interest in what is happening in the Arab world from foreign audiences and there isn’t enough productions made to satisfy that interest.”

The group previously produced an Al-Jazeera award-winning documentary shown on National Geographic Music. Three of the girls are journalism majors and one is a communications major. Farhoud said the company will be trilingual in English, Arabic and French.

“We have already had an impact with the documentaries we created but now we have a financial and legal support to create projects and work like we always wanted,” Farhoud wrote.

In addition to the prize money, Farhoud said, ictQATAR, the organizer of QITCOM, will give the women office space for two years and will “sponsor and legalize the company.”

“We enjoy telling other people’s stories,” Farhoud wrote. “As this is our passion, we want to keep on doing this in our careers.”

In the future, Farhoud said, the winners hope to increase the company’s global reach and visibility, and hire “more filmmakers and journalists from the Arab region.”

“We are extremely proud to see our students using the skills and knowledge they acquired as undergraduates to forge a new path in storytelling and entrepreneurship here in Qatar,” NU-Q Dean Everette Dennis said in the news release.

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