Abu Dhabi charting a new course

Abu Dhabi charting a new course

ABU DHABI — The advancement of education, particularly higher education, is an integral part of the ‘Abu Dhabi Vision 2030’, which aims to reduce the emirate’s reliance on the oil sector as a source of economic activity and focus more on knowledge-based industries.

By Olivia Olarte

Published: Tue 29 Dec 2009, 2:19 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:27 AM

To realise this vision, it is imperative for the future leaders of the country to have access to quality education at home that would enable them to compete in this global economy.

To equip the young Emiratis for higher education, the Abu Dhabi education sector has amended its curriculum to put more emphasis on English language as the medium of instruction. The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) recently hired a thousand native English-speaking teachers from Canada, the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand to teach English, Math, Science and IT in English language at public schools across the emirate.

Demand for Doctoral programmes increases

More than 90 per cent of the master’s degree-holders in the UAE are keen to pursue doctoral programmes, according to an independent survey commissioned by the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD).

The study, conducted by Bayt.com, also found 72 per cent of participants, including expatriates and citizens, think a doctorate would boost their career.

Business and industry experts endorsed the results at a roundtable organised recently by UOWD to involve corporate and government entities in the process of designing and delivering the university’s new doctoral programmes expected to be launched in September 2010.

Approximately 74 per cent of the respondents came from the private sector and 14 per cent from the government sector.

Slim Saidi, director, Arthur D. Little, Dubai, said the UAE industry has reached a state of maturity where research has become critical and the introduction of doctoral programmes important.

“Programmes like the DBA and PhD are very much needed as local industry has reached a stage where there is a strong need for researching professionals and employees capable of doing environmental scanning and business intelligence, developing innovative business models and conducting sophisticated market studies,” Saidi said.

“English is the international language of business and science and is central to Abu Dhabi achieving its vision Demand for Doctoral programmes increases of economic growth and diversification. We need to improve the quality of schools in Abu Dhabi so that our students perform above the international average and support the workforce with the right skills. To this, we need to make some fundamental changes across the entire system now,” Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, director-general of ADEC, had said earlier.

And to bring quality education to the UAE capital, the government has partnered with several international institutions.

In May 2006, under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Paris Sorbonne University officially opened its first overseas campus at Umm Al Nar in Abu Dhabi. It provides courses in arts, languages and social sciences.

Two years later, Paris Sorbonne University - Abu Dhabi (PSUAD) relocated to a new, purpose-built campus on Al Reem Island following a special ground-breaking ceremony on January 15, 2008 officiated by French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

In partnership with Agence France-Muséums, PSUAD will be offering a Master’s degree in ‘History of Art and Museum Studies’ starting next academic year. The scope of the programme includes History of Art, Archaeology and Museum Studies.

This year, two major launches happened with the arrival of two renowned names in Abu Dhabi’s higher education landscape.

INSEAD, the leading international business school, launched its world renowned Executive MBA (EMBA) programme for the 2010-11 academic year in October. The EMBA aims to attract executives, family business owners and entrepreneurs who wish to advance their management skills on its campus in Abu Dhabi.

In December, Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed was again the official figure that launched the downtown campus of the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).

According to officials at NYUAD, the new campus will be comprehensive, degree-granting, liberal arts and sciences college with select graduate and professional programmes and an institute of advanced research.

It will admit its inaugural undergraduate class of 100 students, drawn from the top high school students around the world, in August 2010.

The downtown campus will house all major academic cultural activities for NYUAD until the completion of the residential campus at Saadiyat Island in 2014.

Asked why NYU chose to establish its satellite branch in Abu Dhabi, Hilary Ballon, deputy vice-chancellor of NYUAD, told Khaleej Times, “We were interested in building a comprehensive programme, and Abu Dhabi was interested likewise in our vision of creating a superior institution. It’s really about common goals, common commitment to creating one of the outstanding universities in the 21st century.

“We are developing a liberal arts and science programme which stresses a broad education across a range of field. It is not a technical training. It is not focused on building a set of skills, it’s teaching people how to think.”

John Sexton, president of NYU, echoed Abu Dhabi’s vision when he said, “Preparing the next generation of global leaders requires a new approach to higher education.”

By bringing in quality institutions in the emirate, the government emphasises its intention of becoming a hub for higher education in the region.

As for the local universities, they have made several advancements of their own in terms of introducing new programmes in their respective curriculum as well as establishing research centres.

The United Arab Emirate’s University (UAEU) in Al Ain started offering the Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) programme this year.

The Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR), meanwhile, will in future offer degrees in Engineering, Logistics and Management, Life Sciences and Homeland Security. The university is also developing an international centre for research and development to ensure that research becomes an integral part of the university.

Zayed University announced last week the launch of the first class in its Graduate Certificate in Diplomacy and International Affairs. The class included 23 male and female students. The programme seeks to create the next generation of diplomats who has adequate knowledge and understanding of world affairs and ready to contribute to the development of the UAE.

Zayed University is also currently developing its new campus at the Capital District which covers an area of 213,000 sq m that could accommodate up to 6,000 students. When completed in 2011, the new campus will comprise state-of-the-art academic and research facilities designed according to the highest international standards.

Noting the prime importance of education in the development of the country, Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education andScientific Research, said in October, “The UAE education sector is working to be at par with the universities in other parts of the world... to this effect, we are reviewing and refreshing all programmes in our universities because education is of prime importance in the development of the UAE.”

He added that the UAE is bringing into the country the best courses from around the world and incorporating them in the universities here.



Need to decide where to study or what tests to take?

This week learn about studying Architecture in the UK, courtesy the British Council.

UK innovation and design are world renowned and architects are called upon for high-profile projects throughout Europe and beyond.

Architectural training is highly practical as well as theoretical and artistic, involving at least two years professional experience in an architectural firm.

Professional bodies, like the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), oversee the entire training process to ensure high standards, a close connection to industry, and protect the reputation of British-trained architects.

It takes around seven years to become a UK-trained architect and combines academic study with periods of professional experience.

A BA, BSc or BAach in architectural studies takes three years. It will include studying design, sustainability, history and cultural studies. You will be able to build a portfolio and enter a dissertation in year three. You can practise as an architectural assistant.

A diploma or second degree will take two years and you will qualify for the RIBA Part 2 professional qualification.

At least one more year of experience in architectural practice is needed before you can sit for the RIBA Part 3 examination — the final stage in an architect’s education.

An architecture degree will cost around Dh55,000 per year.


An A-level or equivalent, and 5 GCSEs including Mathematics, English language and a separate science subject are required.

Other entry options include foundation courses in art and design and the International Baccalaureate.

If you are not a native English speaker, you will also need proof of English level through an IELTS test.




Architectural Registration Board:



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