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Two accomplished sisters excel at game design

Al-Bdour sisters
Sham Al-Bdour (left) and Jana Al-Bdour. (Photo: JNews)
AMMAN — Sham Al-Bdour is 19 and her sister, Jana, is 15. However, their CVs are long for their age, and they give credit for their achievements to the way their parents raised them and nurtured their talents.اضافة اعلان

To start with their latest achievement, the two Jordanian girls are now the youngest entrepreneurs, with a videogame start-up, Sakura Games. Their track record has more to tell about their abilities. These young women have tried more than one career path before settling down in the game design industry.

When Sham was 14 and Jana 10, they were the youngest journalists working with the Qatar News Agency. They have also worked as journalists and producers with many news agencies and local press platforms such as Sawalif News Agency, Hawa-Amman, Jordan Al-Youm, and others. As part of their job, they conducted several interviews with different local figures, especially those concerned with children’s affairs.

They also worked in dubbing TV shows into Arabic and worked on a voiceover project for UNICEF, demonstrating a talent for voice and acting.

For their parents, all was going according to a plan, the two sisters and their mother told Jordan News.

“Since our childhood, our parents have always stimulated us to try different fields so that we would be able to define the appropriate future career for ourselves. As you know, many young people have ambitions in certain fields, but they study other subjects and then work in a completely different industry,” Sham says.

“My husband and I acted out of our duty to identify and nurture the creative potential of our daughters. Sham was distinguished from an early age by her tendency towards writing, while Jana was more into technology,” said Rana Abbadi, their mother.

Already the siblings have decided what their future should look like.

In 2016, when Jana was only 9 years old, she entered the realm of programming. Today she is fluent in more than 5 programming languages. “Sometimes I write to the company that produced the software that we use to report existing errors,” Jana says. When she was 10 years old, she created her first website. Jana’s passion for programming was contagious as far as her sister was concerned, thus Sham jumped onto the bandwagon.

Today Sham is an internationally certified programmer, a holder of the prestigious Autodesk Maya certification in 3D graphics and animation. Autodesk has produced many well-known films for Disney and Pixar. The young woman is one of only three Jordanians who have earned this recognition.

In 2017, through the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, Sham and Jana became acquainted with the gaming industry before they started Sakura Games. As Sham says, the main goal of Sakura Games is “to create educational games” that are more engaging, making education less of “a burden for students”. The small enterprise has created 20 games so far, including titles like “Car Girl Garage” and “Crimson”, which won international prizes. “Crimson” is an interactive teaching game that is designed for children from 1–5 years, who learn letters, numbers, colors, and shapes in Arabic and English for Arabic-language children.

The road was not easy. In the early days of Sakura Games, the written content about the games industry in Arabic was almost non-existent. The entrepreneurs also faced fierce competition.

But their hard work paid off. The young businesspeople now enjoy people’s support and international recognition, as they, for example, twice won the second place in the Big Indie Pitch Award.

Today, Sham is a first-year university student. She studies computer science and is one of 50 students who have received the “King Abdullah II Technical Education” scholarship at Al-Hussein Technical University, one of the initiatives of the Crown Prince Foundation. She says that she has big dreams. She hopes she will have the opportunity to use her talent in presentation and journalism, along with her experience in the game industry, to produce press materials specialized in technology and the game industry. As for Jana, she is in the ninth grade and aspires to receive enough support to excel in networking and white-hat hacking and develop augmented and virtual reality games to make a difference in the quality of children’s education.