Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Pupils get a preview of world's top universities

First batch of pupils groomed for world's top universities under Sheikh Mohammed Scholars programme.

ABU DHABI // Darwish Al Marar has always wanted to study abroad.

His dream came a step closer to fulfilment when he was accepted into the Sheikh Mohammed Scholars programme, which is grooming its first 24 high school pupils for the world's top universities.

Darwish was nominated for the summer programme, which is run by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), by his teachers at the American International School.

"I thought it would be a challenge and it has," he said. "But I've learnt so much in these two weeks which I wouldn't have in school, like handling the SAT exam, and I've improved my English."

So far this summer, the programme's first batch has spent three weeks at the Abu Dhabi campus learning skills such as critical thinking, debating and public speaking, and is now spending two more in the NYU campus in Florence. Next year the 24 high achievers will go to New York.

The eldest of five siblings, Darwish, 15, has not travelled without his family before.

"Going away without my family will be an experience but I'll be doing that in two years anyway," he said.

Diane Yu, the programme director, said Darwish and the others had already grown in confidence.

"All but a few of them were shy and cautious," Ms Yu said. "Within a day or two, Darwish was actively participating in class and has been an outstanding student."

The programme had 67 applicants, mostly boys, aged between 15 and 17 from eight public and private schools.

Ms Yu hopes to involve an even larger pool of candidates next year, aiming for excellent pupils with ambitions to travel to top international universities.

Applicants had to write a paper on why they should be considered, submit letters of recommendation and have two interviews.

Ms Yu said the programme aimed to make pupils aware of what they needed to do to get into good universities in the US or Europe.

"It's to get them thinking and planning a bit so it won't be a crisis decision, but a thoughtful process," she said.

Noor Al Mehairbi, 16, admits she was nervous about the programme.

One of four girls taking part, she had never been in a classroom with boys before. She also attends the American International School, where boys and girls are separated.

"When I heard there were so few girls I was a bit scared," Noor said. "I thought I'd be too shy in the classroom but I've interacted really well. It's given me a good idea as to how it would be at university.

"It's been good to interact with the opposite sex and new people, especially as we're going to a foreign country where the culture will be very different."


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Sarah Geronimo. Courtesy: FLASH Entertainment

Sarah Geronimo brings her star power to Abu Dhabi this weekend

Ahead of her Abu Dhabi concert on Thursday night, we take a look at the Filipina singer Sarah Geronimo’s extraordinary career.

 Fatema holds a picture of her son Nurul Karim as she poses for a photograph in front of her slum house in Savar. Fatema lost her son Nurul Karim and her daughter Arifa, who were working on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed on April 24, 2013. All photos Andrew Biraj / Reuters

These women know the real price of cheap high street fashion

Survivors of the world's worst garment factory accident, struggle to rebuild their lives from the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse as Bangladesh prepares to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

 Visitors look at the medieval inventor Al Jazari’s water-powered Elephant Clock. The clock is on show at the 1001 Inventions exhibition at Sharjah Expo Centre. Photos Antonie Robertson / The National

1001 Inventions: in praise of Islam’s gifts to the world

Down the centuries, from camera obscura to designing a sail that allowed early seafarers to tack into the wind, Muslim scientists have made many significant contributions to science. Rym Ghazal and Asmaa Al Hameli visit an exhibition in Sharjah that celebrates those contributions

 Mumbai Indians fans cheer they team on the opening match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Earn cash back with the IPL cricket in the UAE

Dunia finance promotion allows cricket lovers to earn up to 6 per cent unlimited cash back on any spending they make on a day when an IPL match is played in the UAE.

 Iranian workers at the Iran Khodro auto plant in Tehran on March 18. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

Iran’s love of cars survives devastating sanctions

Sanctions and energy subsidy reductions might have hurt the Iranian automotive industry. But car makers at one factory are still optimistic, Yeganeh Salehi reports from Tehran

 This comparison image shown on Reddit annotated the objects with vehicles from the movies.

Disney confirms that Star Wars: Episode 7 is filming in Abu Dhabi desert

Disney yesterday confirmed that the filming of Star Wars: Episode 7 is taking place in the desert in Abu Dhabi.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National