After near-fatal car accident, Emirati makes it to Harvard

After near-fatal car accident, Emirati makes it to Harvard

Abu Dhabi - The car accident left him paralysed for almost four years.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Thu 3 May 2018, 10:55 PM

Defying all odds, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi, Abdulla Al Jefri, has achieved what not many can even dream of.
He is the only Emirati who has been accepted to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's for a Master in Public Administration degree this year. Also, the achievement came after he had to get back to normal life following a car accident that left him paralysed for almost four years.
Only last month, he was selected for the Edward S Mason Programme and received the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship, which is given by the UAE Government only to UAE students who get through Harvard.
Abdulla had his share of struggles and sufferings, that led to his success story. "I was a simple Emirati teenager who was not worried about the future; all I wanted was to get a bachelor's degree." But everything changed when Abdulla had a near death experience in a massive car accident in August 2003, when he was just 19 years old. "I was told I may not be able to walk again and had only a 30-40 per cent chance of getting back on my feet. The UAE government sponsored my treatment in Germany and after four long years of treatment, surgeries, rehab and physiotherapy, I finally started walking. This is when I decided that if God has given me a second chance at life, then I should live it differently and make my parents and my country proud," he said.
At the age of 26, Abdulla had no degree and no job. People's taunts and his ambition to make his parents and country proud instilled in him a passion to get into the world's best school.
"I took up the lowest paid job at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department and at the same time, pursued a degree at Al Ain University of Science and Technology, after which I went on to get a Masters in Law from the Paris-Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi. I scored excellent grades at both schools and while at it, got two promotions in four years at work," he said.
Although motivated and driven, Abdulla didn't know the way forward to Harvard. But guided and mentored by Dubai education consultancy Hale Education, he got accepted not only in Harvard but also by Columbia University and George Town university.
Peter Davos, founder of Hale Education, said Abdulla is an extremely focused and persistent individual. "He is an example for all students, particularly Emiratis, because through his persistence and hard work, he has shown that anything is possible," Davos said.
"Our family teaches us to have a dream but never teaches us how to achieve those dreams. My first message for Emiratis is to have a clear vision of your goals and be persistent and passionate about it. Our government has given us a lot, therefore we have to take it to the next level. They asked me at Harvard about my dream and I told them that the UAE founder Sheikh Zayed's dream is my dream," Abdulla said. "His dream was to make the UAE the benchmark. Therefore let's create a positive change and be a role model for other countries. I failed a lot, but I learnt a lot from my failures."
Abdulla is now an attorney for government cases for the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, one of the most prestigious jobs in the country. He is the youngest appeals court lawyer and was the first government attorney to win an Intell-ectual Property Case in the Sup-reme Court.

More news from