Centre of Learning Faces Slowdown

Till a few years back, some lost travellers and stray camels were the only ones spotted in a wide stretch off the Al Ain and Al Ruwayyah road.

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By Afshan Ahmed

Published: Wed 17 Feb 2010, 1:10 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:07 AM

Now it is a daily destination for more than 12,000 students who on any normal day can be seen huddled together in conversation on benches, sipping the freshly brewed coffee at Costa, having a hearty meal at the food court, rushing to a lecture or challenging a mate to a game of darts in the student’s activity centre.

When Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) was established in 2007, it attracted some big academic names to provide higher education to the increasing number of youth seeking global education in the country.

Within two years, more than 32 institutions from 13 countries set up campuses in the 20-million-square-foot area. Along with attracting universities, the aim of the developer, TECOM, was to create a student hub.

Facilities including affordable eating options at a relatively new food court and a student centre that is a place to unwind came up fast but now Dr. Ayoub Kazim, executive director, Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village, says some student projects have been pushed back due to the economic slowdown.

The accommodation project that can house at least 2,800 students in studio and one-bedroom apartments has now been postponed from January next year.

“I have to acknowledge that there are still some major obstacles we are facing now but we are working closely with our developers to build the resources for the students,” Kazim said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times.

“The student accommodation will be completed by the end of 2011 or early 2012, depending on how the project moves,” he said.

What is also missing at DIAC is an outlet for physical activity, as cited by a number of students who were either at a food outlet or strolling with friends along the concrete pathways of the common campus.

Marnic Van Der Kramer, a media and marketing student at Murdock University, compares the facilities at the academic cluster with his hometown.

“Academic facilities are no less to what I have seen in Europe,” he said.

“But what we lack is sporting facilities like a basketball court and football pitches.

“Also, there are a large number of Asian students who would definitely like to have cricket matches here as well.”

Sporting infrastructure is in the pipeline but Kazim said such resource-intensive projects are being handled with prudence during the economic slowdown.

“I know that when universities market their programmes abroad, supporting facilities must be there,” he said.

“We are moving ahead and building them, but with an extended time frame.”

Ahmed Omer, a business management student at Heriot-Watt University, said he would like the management to work with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and make public transport more convenient.

“They must put up a proper shaded bus stop because it gets really hot waiting for the public transport in the blazing sun,” he said.

Kazim said DIAC is working with the RTA to provide sufficient public transport for students. “We encourage our universities to convey the message of utilising the public transport so that there is more frequency and improved facilities,” he said.

Talking about the future plans of DIAC, Kazim said the focus is on academic partner retention.

In the past year, while universities such as Heriot-Watt and Manipal University saw growth in student numbers, many others were hit by lesser enrolments.

“Some universities are facing challenges and I acknowledge that,” he said.

“There are plans to work closely with the partners and provide support services including student support.”

The management is planning to adopt a business sustainability model where they will offer free consultation services, sorting of legal, financial and labour issues and skill development programmes to the academic institutes.

“Other measures we have taken include the Virtual Education Fair with Bayt.com so that universities that face challenges can come onboard and tap into the student body that enrols,” he said. Owners also plan to get the entire campus Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified by 2012. In June last year, it was announced that Phase III of DIAC had become the first and largest Middle East LEED-certified academic facility.

The green initiatives help reduce energy consumption by 22 per cent and extend 30 per cent cleaner air within buildings.


Canadian Students Study Dubai Firm’s Business

A delegation of 15 students from the ‘Rotman School of Management’, University of Toronto, Canada visited the Lootah Technical Centre (LTC), a division of the S.S. Lootah Group as part of their two week study tour to the Middle East, recently.

“LTC adopts a unique business model ‘Where Education and Industry Merge,” said, Abdulmunam M. Lootah, CEO - LTC.

“We are very happy that reputed management schools choose to visit us and study our model.

As part of a leading national company, we are representative of the local business culture operating in a multi-national environment and the students received valuable insights from their visit. ”

The students received firsthand insight into the framework of the business environment in the region and the Middle East’s role in the world economy where they learned about market entry, partnerships, outsourcing and other legal protocols of doing business in the Middle East.

The LTC model includes incubating knowledge through applied education in strategic sectors such as space, aviation, engineering and alternative energy that are drivers of a knowledge economy.

The centre comprises of dedicated production workshops, advanced technology halls and central laboratories for research and development, occupying over 120,000 square feet.


Executive Leadership Programme for Women

Negotiating for Leadership is an intense three day executive education programme offered by the Dubai School of Government (DSG) in association with the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

The programme is designed to assist women in senior positions in developing the negotiation strategies necessary to lead effectively in today’s world. It is integrative and covers both general and gender and culture specific strategies

The aim is to empower women to develop negotiating skills and become successful decision makers and systematically improve as business leaders.

The programme will apply an experimental approach where the classroom will be converted into a laboratory to learn leadership challenges and try out strategies that would otherwise be risky to implement in professional life.

The faculty members include Dr Iris Bohnet, Professor of Public Policy Director, Women and Public Policy Programme, Harvard Kennedy School and Dr May Al-Dabbagh, Director of the Gender and Public Policy Programme at DSG.

Upon successful completion of the programme, participants will receive a certificate from Harvard Kennedy School.

The cost of the programme is Dh12,850.


· Women will be selected from throughout the Arab world representing the public, private and non-profit sector.

· Women in senior management positions

· Prior experience with negotiation on the job, but talented younger candidates can also apply.

· Advanced English language proficiency is essential.

· Diversity of applicants is a key feature of the programme.


Applications forms are at:


More details can be found on:


e-mail: execed@dsg.ac.ae

or call 971 4 329 3290


How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends

IT’S A quick 208 page read but will provide fuel for conversations with anyone, anywhere!

Small talk expert Don Gabor shows people how to communicate with wit, confidence and enthusiasm through his book How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends.

Learn how to keep the conversation going by asking the right questions, using body language effectively and avoiding conversation pitfalls.

Steal from the hundred opening lines, real-life examples and helpful hints to take your speaking skills to the next level.


High Risk, High Reward

IT TAKES honest effort to get where you want to be, and that’s something that I can’t stress enough. I get that it’s hard – I KNOW that it’s hard.

For some reason, I feel that I get distracted all the time when I study; as if I can’t concentrate on anything long enough to learn it effectively. But when you really want something, you must be willing to sacrifice other things that aren’t as important.

That’s why I’m here writing instead of having a fairly decent time mixing with my friends. It’s possible that they could be having a blast or they could be doing absolutely nothing of interest.

I’m putting everything I’ve got into my passion, because engaging in my passion is what makes me happy and ultimately brings some sort of goodness to the lives of others. I may not be having college-type fun, but I certainly don’t regret it. Playing it safe is easy and predictable, therefore the reward is low. Taking chances, challenging social stigmas, and being curious is high risk, but the rewards are well worth it. The rules you may have created in your head (socialise instead of learning something interesting on Friday nights, have a clean cut shave instead of a beard, graduate from college to be successful, wear similar fashions as the rest) don’t apply to those willing to take risks....

I’ve made high risk failures and mistakes my entire life, but I don’t regret ever making them. From those failures, I learn lessons. From those lessons, I teach others. When I teach others, they apply the same knowledge to their own lives.

It is the reward at the end that counts, and it is what most people are too blind to see through towards. The moment you lose sight of your goals, the obstacles become clear.Chukwuma John, a second year student blogs about college life @hilife2b

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