x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Umm al Qaiwain weighs launching new university

The campus, the first in the emirate, could open in 2011 if it proves to be feasible, officials say.

Zubair Hanslot, the academic director of the University of Bolton campus in Ras al Khaimah.
Zubair Hanslot, the academic director of the University of Bolton campus in Ras al Khaimah.

Umm al Qaiwain may soon join the other emirates in offering its residents a university. The proposal comes in response to a growing demand for a nearby institution, officials said. Students elsewhere in the UAE often travel long distances to attend university, even commuting from Dubai to Ras al Khaimah.

Mohamad Mohammad, an Emirati who lives in Umm al Qaiwain, said he had asked his son to wait until the new facility opened rather than attend a university in another emirate. "We don't want him to travel long distances for education, as the roads are not safe," he said. Another resident, Mauza Mohammed, said she did not like her daughter living in Al Ain, where she is enrolled at university. "We are always worried about our daughter staying very far, as she is a girl and our darling," she said.

The emirate's education zone is studying whether to launch the new institution on orders from Sheikh Saud bin Rashid, the emirate's Ruler, according to Abaid al Qauod, the zone's director. He said the study would consider issues such as whether to set up a new school from scratch or work with a foreign university to launch a branch campus. The study would be completed by the end of the year, which would allow a university to open in 2011, officials say.

Sultan Rashid al Khalijia, the head of the Umm a Qaiwain Health Authority, said the possibility of opening a university had been discussed several times at meetings of the emirate's Executive Council, of which he is a member. "His Highness has already promised that [the emirate] would provide land for the university and once the feasibility study is completed by the education zone, the Ruler would show us this land."

Zubair Hanslot, academic director of the RAK branch of the University of Bolton, said that any university in Umm al Qaiwain should try to attract students from outside the UAE. "That way you're bringing in more investment from outside the UAE into the emirate and you're providing the opportunity for the local population to get a perspective from other parts of the world," he said. ykakande@thenational.ae dbardsley@thenational.ae