(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) After four intense and exciting days, the winners of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 - the world's largest vocational skills competition have finally been announced, during an unforgettable ceremony held in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening.
More than 10,000 people filled Yas Du Arena stadium, cheering for their favourite teams and for those who competed during WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2016, which was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The ceremony began with UAE National Anthem, before a memorable speech by Mubarak Saeed Al Shamsi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ACTVET) who highlighted that the UAE Capital was proud to have welcomed the 100,000 visitors for the week-long event, adding that Abu Dhabi is the Middle East's heart of hospitality.
He honoured all the competitors and thanked them for inspiring young Emirati students from across the UAE to compete with the best of their abilities.
"You're here not to learn, you're here so we can learn from you."
China led the medal table with 15 gold medals, 7 silvers and 8 bronzes. Korea came second on medal points with 8 golds, 8 silvers, and 8 bronzes. Switzerland was third on points, winning 11 golds, 6 silver, and 3 bronze. The UAE, won three Medallions for Excellence.
The winners called on stage proudly wore their flags, some cheered and were all smiles, while others shed happy tears for their great success.
Although there were no winners from the Arab nations in the skills categories, Al Shamsi said every single competitor is a champion.
"Never forget, whether you leave here with a medal or not, you are already the best in the world," added Al Shamsi.
Biao Song, from China, was awarded the Albert Vidal award - the prestigious award granted to the competitor who achieved the highest score overall across all skill competitions, an award that is named in memory of WSI's founder.
The Best of Nation awards - awarded to the competitor who gained the highest points and/or highest medal ranking among their national or regional team - was decided by each individual member.
Two Emiratis, Ibrahim Alraeesi and Hamad Alremeithi were awarded the Best of Nation award, among international competitors.
The prizes for the winners have not yet been announced, however.
Simon Bartley, WorldSkills President told Khaleej Times that the prizes for the gold, silver and bronze winners differ from one country to the other.
"Every country gives different awards."
The gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to the highest-ranked participants in each skill competition. Medallions for Excellence were also awarded to competitors who achieved above-average scores in their skill.
WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017's massive success WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 saw more than 100,000 visitors from the UAE and from around the world, 1,300 skilled youngsters from 60 member countries and regions, 51 skills competitions.
The competition, which first began in 1950, also saw some Royal visitors, including His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Tolerance, Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the Chairman of Ajman Municipality and Planning Development, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Sultan bin Khalifa.
Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Abu Dhabi Police, also visited the competition during the week and stopped by at the Abu Dhabi Police stand, which not only had stunning luxury police vehicles surrounding it, but also highly impressive innovations created by Abu Dhabi Police, that are used for maintaining safety and security in the community.
Counsellor Dr Hamad Saif Al Shamsi, UAE's Attorney General, Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education also visited the competition during the week and spoke to the young students and competitors from around the world.
The Emirati competitors, who trained for more than a year for the competition, were the largest team of students from the competitors of the Arab region, with 34 students that participated in 31 categories.
More than 135,870 square meter was used for the competition and the estimated cost of the equipment alone stood at almost Dh95 million.
How winners are determined The process of how judges determined the winners were based on the WorldSkills experts marks on the competitors' work, which they feed into the Competition Information System (CIS).
Any discrepancies in results were addressed by the director of skills competitions and the CIS administrator. Once the marks were entered into the CIS, they are locked, and the provisional results for individual skills competitions are generated.
The WorldSkills CEO, David Hoey, confirmed the process and results, before presenting them to the board of directors for review, prior to the skill management teams signing off the results for each skill.
"It costs a fair amount of money to host the competition, but the economic return and the legacy is well worth the investment, if built right," the WorldSkill CEO told Khaleej Times.
"You look at the young Emiratis here who are opening their eyes to different skills and opportunities for their future - that is a legacy itself," he added.
The results were ratified by the WorldSkills General Assembly and sent to the WorldSkills results web service.
President of WorldSkills speaks to Khaleej Times Simon Bartley, President of WorldSkills, spoke to Khaleej Times about the why it is crucial to have a set of skills that one can carry in the future.
"There is 25 per cent of youth unemployment in Middle East and that is an unacceptable level of unemployment. You have disappointed youth and social issues - so they have to get jobs, but we know they are more likely to get jobs, if they have skills."
He said the skills need to be relevant to the workplace of "today and tomorrow."
"That's why it's important we run competitions like this, because it gives something to young people that they can talk to their parents about - young people who are looking for something that is actually their passion."
Bartley stressed that the future will be based on entrepreneurs and small businesses.
"This is different from 20 years ago, when people went to work for the government, the armed forces, or Ford Motor Company, or a very large company - the future for young people is going to be entrepreneurial."
The WorldSkills President said he was impressed by how the UAE set up the competition.
"I'm impressed with the entire competition and I'm impressed by the excellence of the young people, their dedication, their speed, their accuracy and total commitment to winning."
The 45th WorldSkills competition will be held from 18-23 August 2018 in Kazan, Russia.