Expat began UAE journey as KG student, is now managing director at same school

'My dream is to continue to contribute to the development of this amazing country and by making great progress in the education sector'



By Muneer Ansari Parayil (Managing Director of International Indian School Abu Dhabi)

Published: Thu 25 Nov 2021, 2:12 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Nov 2021, 2:26 PM

As the Year of 50 celebrations continue across the UAE, I am prompted time and time again to contemplate the future; what do the next 50 years of progress look like?

Having lived in the UAE for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the transformation of the education sector in the country. My journey started as a KG student and now I am the Managing Director at the same school in Abu Dhabi.

My family has always been into education — it’s built in my DNA. My father was a college professor and established one of the first private schools in Al Ain in the year 1982. From him, I learned the importance of education and the value it adds to one’s life. Having that background inspired me to leave the stability of my IT job and set up our own educational management company.

Having experienced the education system in this country first-hand, I understand what student life was back then in the 80s. Living and studying together with a multinational community during my school days was an experience like no other. The UAE is my homeland. Thanks to the Almighty, and the great Rulers and leaders of this amazing country for all the support and privileges that we enjoy while living here in the UAE.

I remember our National Day celebrations back when I was a student. Times were simpler. There was no social media, yet the patriotism and love for the country was stronger in our hearts than ever. As a student, we used to carry UAE flags and walk around the neighbourhood visiting our Emirati friends’ houses and wishing them a happy National Day. We used to actively take part in all the parades and events organized in Al Ain City and Abu Dhabi.

Today, National Day celebrations are larger than life, with various themed campaigns, such as the ‘Year of the 50th’. To celebrate the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, our school — the International Indian School Abu Dhabi — set a Guinness World Record for the largest medal ever created. I would say this was one of our greatest achievements because the world record was not just for me and my school, but an achievement for the UAE as well. This Guinness World Record highlighted the great achievements and progress the UAE has made in the last 50 years.

The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan used to say: “The real spirit behind progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities.”

We used to listen to him on the radio and watch him on TV channels talking about reaching space, the importance of education, and what this nation could achieve through education. To now see the UAE reach Mars, to become one of the safest countries in the world, and to be one of the most technologically-advanced in the world makes me hopeful for the future.

I wanted to be able to give back to this community that had enriched my life in a multitude of ways, which motivated me to set up new schools and a pre-school here in the UAE.

It gives me a great sense of pride to be able to serve the country that has nurtured me, by providing education to the community and by catering to it’s needs. I feel fortunate and blessed that I could be of service in a sector that our beloved Father of the Nation deemed as one of the most important components of this country’s success.

My dream is to continue to contribute to the development of this amazing country and by making great progress in the education sector, including higher education.

So, to answer the question: The future is the UAE.

The progress and development that the education sector here in the UAE has undergone is phenomenal. The quality of education, the facilities available and the overall standard of education in the UAE today is remarkable, as compared to the humble resources we had in the ‘80s and 90s. Today, the UAE has one of the best educational policies alongside dedicated infrastructure facilities, technology, and healthcare for students.

A solid educational sector means that not only is the country dedicating its resources towards building a skilled, talented workforce, but it is also attracting global talent for its growing industries. Experts from various industries and disciplines, as well as innovators and scientists from all around the world are choosing to make the UAE their home.

With the setting up of Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, the great vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who believes in the transformative power of knowledge and scientific thinking — is becoming a reality soon in the UAE. Such initiatives are an open invitation from the UAE to the world to unleash AI’s full potential.

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Most recently His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai - announced that Dubai aims to convert 60 per cent of the emirate into nature reserves under the Dubai 2040 Urban Plan is the latest example of how the UAE is going green.

These innovations are based on a people-first approach, in line with the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed to make life better, safer and easier for the people.

Instilling the essence and importance of a green economy, food security, environment and sustainability initiatives through the education system will be a focus for us as part of future education in the UAE.

Another 50 years with these values intact would be very positive for all of us.

These innovations are based on a people-first approach, in line with the vision of the late HH Sheikh Zayed - to make life better, safer and easier for the people.

Instilling the essence and importance of a Green Economy, Food Security, Environment and Sustainability Initiatives through the education system will be a focus for us as part of Future Education here in the UAE.

Another 50 years with these values intact would be unimaginable, albeit very positive for all of us.

This article is part of the “The UAE’s 50” series, featuring stories and journeys of people who call the UAE home. You can share your personal stories in the UAE via www.uaeyearof.ae

Muneer Ansari Parayil (Managing Director of International Indian School Abu Dhabi)


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