ABU DHABI // With the current economic crisis looming, there is one asset that Dubai is anxious to invest in - its Arab youth. Representatives from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation are in Abu Dhabi today to offer students the chance to study for a master's degree at a top university. The foundation is partway through a 14-country tour promoting its "Pioneers" and "Fellows" scholarship programmes, which pay for graduate students to study at universities in North America, Europe and the Middle East.
The Pioneers programme allows students to stay in the Arab world, while Fellows lets them study in western universities, such as Harvard, Cambridge, INSEAD, Stanford, Yale and the University of Chicago, as well as at regional schools such as the American University of Beirut and the American University of Cairo. The foundation has already visited 10 countries in the Arab region, including Lebanon, Morocco and Algeria. The delegation will be in Abu Dhabi today, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Hamdan Street, at 7pm, before continuing its tour in December in the Gulf region.
Mustafa al Ansari, the vice president of operations at the foundation, said the tour "aims to familiarise Arab youth with the opportunities of the Pioneers and Fellows scholarships." Mr Ansari said attendance at the promotional sessions were more than double what was expected. "We had students sitting on the floor at many of our sessions because there was no more space available. The quality of the applicants has also been very impressive."
The foundation, which operates on a Dh27 billion (US$10 billion) personal endowment from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has funded 51 Arab students since its establishment in May last year. Almost 20 per cent of those were Emirati. There are 100 places available for both programmes. The scholarship covers the recipient's tuition, housing, textbook costs and travel expenditures, as well offering the dependent a monthly living stipend that is based on the living costs of each country.
"The most important prerequisite is that the students demonstrate a commitment to the Arab region and its development," Mr Ansari said. "We are in desperate need to work on empowering the future Arab generation in order to create knowledge-based societies, and elevate research and knowledge-based solutions in our societies. We also want to promote the importance of cross-cultural understanding." The foundation requires its recipients to work in the Arab world upon graduation, in order to avoid the "brain drain" to other areas of the world when some of its most promising minds immigrate to the West for better academic and work opportunities.
Those who wish to be considered for a scholarship must first secure an acceptance from one of the foundation's partner universities, a full list of which is available at www.mbrfoundation.ae. firstname.lastname@example.org