100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Dania Al Jaabari
57

Dania Al Jaabari

Industry: Culture and society

Designation: Maths genius

Country: Palestine

Age: 14

Palestinian Dania Husni Al Jaabari beat 3,000 participants from more than 15 countries in the Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic Competition in Singapore last December, to come first.

She had to solve 240 maths problems in six minutes to earn her crown. The Singapore Mathematical Olympiad is the largest and oldest mathematics competition in Singapore and each year it attracts thousands of students. Al Jaabari first joined a mental-arithmetic programme two years ago.

Aged 11, she travelled to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, where she competed with 2,500 children from all over the world and came second.

The mental-arithmetic programme is an initiative where students practise using what is called a ‘both-hand abacus mental-arithmetic’ teaching method. They are not allowed to use any outside help such as computers or calculators to solve the problems. Using only their minds to solve the mathematical equations quickly and accurately, the method helps train both the right and left sides of the brain.

“It is fun and I don’t mind spending several hours every day practising,” Al Jaabari has said recently. She also says her favourite subject is science and she is aiming to become a doctor when she grows up. Her achievements are made all the more memorable by the fact she lives in Gaza.