UAE's Fulbrighters hope to bridge cultural gap with US

From left -Amal Badri, Umeimah Abdul Aziz, Omar Al Busaidy Emiratis fullbright scholarship alumnus speak during press roundtable in Abu Dhabi.-Photo by Ryan Lim
From left -Amal Badri, Umeimah Abdul Aziz, Omar Al Busaidy Emiratis fullbright scholarship alumnus speak during press roundtable in Abu Dhabi.-Photo by Ryan Lim

Abu Dhabi - Amal Badri is a mechanical engineering student at New York University Abu Dhabi and will be a Fulbright scholar at Penn State University.



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Mon 20 May 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 20 May 2019, 9:54 PM

Emirati students, who will head to the US through Fulbright Foreign Student Programme, aim to change the misperception Americans have about the Middle East, they said during an interaction held at AMIDEAST in Abu Dhabi.
Omar Al Busaidy, who studied at American University in Dubai and will do his Masters in International Affairs at Florida State University, is excited about his 2019-2021 cycle when he will also witness 2020 United States presidential election.
"I understand Florida State University is very pro-Donald Trump. It will be interesting and going to be a huge experience. I want to change the image portrayed about the Middle East in general. We will go there as ambassadors of the UAE and hopefully, on return, will be ambassadors of America in the UAE. I aspire to bridge the gap. Think I have to take lot of extra kandooras and dates," said Al Busaidy, who is a member of the US and UAE Public Affairs Committee and a best-selling author and entrepreneur.
Al Busaidy is hoping the Fulbright programme will act as springboard for his career.
"I hope to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or as a think tank," he added.
Amal Badri is a mechanical engineering student at New York University Abu Dhabi and will be a Fulbright scholar at Penn State University.
"I will pursue my Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering. I will be focusing on nanotechnology. This is still uncommon in the UAE. After my Masters, I want to return and promote this field in the UAE."
Amal aims to develop a research centre combining biomedical engineering and nanotechnology in the UAE. By fusing both disciplines, she hopes to innovate next-generation medical devices that can be used under extreme environmental conditions.
"On top of studies, we will be ambassadors of the UAE. We will be promoting cultural exchange between the UAE and the US. We hope to enhance tolerance between both the countries," said Amal, who was the recipient of NYUAD's cultural ambassador award in 2018.
The third scholar heading to the US is Sara Alansari.
US a unique experience
One of the Fulbright Programme's success stories is Umaimah Abdul Aziz, who did her Masters in Clinical Psychology in 2010 with focus in health and trauma. "On my return, I concentrated on clinical psychology within aviation field," said Dubai-based Umaimah, who is working as a senior psychologist at Emirates airlines.
Umaimah refers to her experience in the US as 'unique one'.
"I was the only Fulbright scholar in my university. It was an opportunity to take my Emirati culture to a niche market where they had never engaged with someone with a head scarf in the mental health field. I went during Ramadan. It gave me an opportunity to introduce myself and my culture. On return, I had a cultural shock. In the US, you get to challenge sides of yourself that are protected in our home culture. For those going there, you need to find the best way to juggle two cultures," she said and recollected how people confused Dubai and Abu Dhabi with Afghanistan.
Number of applications rises
Fulbright Foreign Student Programme is funded by the US Department of State and AMIDEAST is managing it on behalf of the US Embassy.
"The whole cycle of Fulbright starts from December to June. So far, we have received 80 applications for 2020-2022 and the deadline is June 13. Last year we had 75 applications. The number of applicants has been increasing every year," Rula M. Dajani, country director, AMIDEAST, said.
"Last year, we had two and now three who have been selected. Since 2011, some 15 Fulbrighters have left for the US. Now, we have two Fulbrighters studying in the US," Rula added.
Who can apply?
1-Applicant must be an Emirati citizen. US citizens or green card holders are not eligible to apply.
2-Should hold a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution at the time of the programme start date
3-Need to have a strong academic background
4-Should possess leadership quality.
5-Be proficient in English and/or able to attend a long-term English programme prior to the start of the study programme
6-Preference will be given to students who have little or no previous experience studying or living in the US. Those with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com  


More news from UAE