Saudi Arabia: School adopts fingerprinting system for students

saudi arabia school adopts fingerprinting system for students Saudi Arabia: School adopts fingerprinting system for studentsManama: A school in Saudi Arabia has resorted to fingerprinting to monitor the attendance of its students.

Mohammad Al Fateh Middle School in the western area of Taef is the first school in the kingdom to adopt the fingerprinting system for students.

“We decided to use modern technology to check and follow the commitment of our students to school attendance,” the management said. “We have had the approval of the education district and its general director Mohammad Al Shamrani launched the project,” the management said in remarks carried by local daily Al Sharq on Thursday.

The fingerprinting system allows parents to be updated about the arrival and departures of their sons via messages sent to their mobile phones.

Students in each of the classes in the school will have access to three machines to have their fingerprints scanned.

The school will also install 24 cameras to monitor the movements of the students and act promptly in case of misbehaviour or troublemaking situations, the management said.

The school is attended by 400 students.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been pushing for measures to curb rising levels of absenteeism and tardiness among students, especially in middle and high schools, after they reached alarming levels.

In October last year, Kuwait decided to use class attendance to determine students’ grades.

Under the decision, students who do not present valid excuses for missing classes are punished by having their lack of attendance counted against their grades.

The decision was made following reports that indicated that students tended to prolong their days off by not showing up for classes just before or after holidays.

The education ministry had pushed for years to tackle the phenomenon of student absenteeism.

© Gulf News

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PSU from Saudi Arabia emerges overall winner of EEG contest

psu from saudi arabia emerges overall winner of eeg contest PSU from Saudi Arabia emerges overall winner of EEG contestDubai, UAE: The Prince Sultan University from Saudi Arabia emerged overall winner of The Emirates Environment Group’s (EEG) Inter-College Sustainability public speaking competition 2014 on November 27.

The inter-college competition saw students from across the Mena region taking part in spreading environmental awareness through public-speaking.

More than 60 student teams from universities in Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi and Egypt took part at the competition’s 14th edition, which took place at the Knowledge Village conference centre in Dubai on November 26-27.

The event was a platform for university students to share ideas, projects and presentations about preserving and protecting the environment.

The two-day event brought together hundreds of students. Trophies were given to the winners in each of four categories: ‘Green Economy: commitment and responsibility,’ ‘The more technology we develop, the more pollution we create,’ ‘How can our curriculum protect our environment,’ and ‘Who’s responsible for food wastage.’

Gulf News spoke to Nadia Nasib, first place winner under the category topic ‘Who’s responsible for food wastage?.’ The Emirati senior university student at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management said her presentation focused on the causes of food wastage especially that Dubai is moving towards becoming more sustainable leading up to Expo 2020. “It’s important to look at who is to blame… And the answer to that is the distributors,” said Nadia. She explained that while distributors have the buying power over buyers, they should supply their products depending on a buyer’s inventory. “What happens is that food is constantly distributed and shelves are overstocked.”

Omar Al Hamadi from Al Yamamah University in Saudi Arabia tackled another environmental issue affected by the education system. Coming in at second place under the category topic ‘How can our curriculum protect our environment,’ Al Hamadi focused on ways to improve the curriculums taught in universities and schools in Saudi Arabia. “I lived in Canada for a while, and I felt the difference in teaching methods when I came back to Saudi Arabia. I think the curriculums can be improved my making them more project-based, and through the application of knowledge and critical thinking,” he explained. The Saudi senior university student said the competition has not only helped him spread environmental awareness to hundreds of other students, but has also helped him with his stage fright. “It has definitely helped me develop my public speaking skills and it’s an experience I will remember before my next presentation.”

The first place winner in the same category, Sarah Al Mowanes from Prince Sultan University in Saudi Arabia, shifted her focus to children who are left out of the curriculum and are therefore not exposed to environmental awareness. “We focused on people who do not have access to schools like those who cannot afford an education or those who are drop outs, and we have even made a YouTube channel for them that talks about environmental education,” said Sarah. The Saudi senior student said this was the second time she was participating in the competition.

At the closing ceremony, the overall winners of the competition were also announced. The Prince Sultan University took home two trophies, one for first place and one for third place. Al Yamamah University in Saudi Arabia came in second place.

© Gulf News

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Emirati masters student Ahmad Sami Fakhr Al Deen student shines

emirati masters student ahmad sami fakhr al deen student shines Emirati masters student Ahmad Sami Fakhr Al Deen student shinesDubai, UAE: Heriot-Watt University honoured the first Emirati student with an award for ‘Best Performing MSc Real Estate Management & Development Student’ on Tuesday during the university’s graduation ceremony.

Ahmad Sami Fakhr Al Deen, 35, who works at the Director of Development at Jumeirah Group- Dubai Holding- for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, was also the first student to complete the programme with distinction.

Despite having a full-time job, the student, said he was able to graduate with flying colours by organising his time schedule.

“It was tough at times, I remember once I had to fly early morning to attend a meeting then come back at 4pm to the UAE to sit in for an exam. I was lucky to have a supportive company; I couldn’t have done it without their encouragement.”

After completing the programme, Fakhr Al Deen now has a total of three master degrees.

The exceptional student also believes that one should not only pursue education without enhancing their skill, which is why he started working at the young age of 16.

“My first job was as a waiter. I worked while pursuing my higher education at the American University in Dubai, and earned Dh1,800 a month. I worked at a relatively low salary not because I needed the money but because I believe that you should not take education without enhancing your skill.”

He also wanted to prove to himself and others that there is no shame in work no matter how low the salary is. Because of hard work from a relatively young age, he managed to become the youngest manager at his company, at the age of 24.

Speaking on his achievements Fakhr Al Deen said: “On the occasion of UAE’s 43rd National Day, I would like to dedicate the achievement to our beloved UAE’s Leaders and Citizens, who only deserve and aim to be number one”.

More than 615 students graduated from Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus on Tuesday.

Professor Ammar Kaka, Vice-principal and Head of Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus said the university has a “significant numbers of exceptional performing students this year and it has been testament to the additional programmes and opportunities.

“We will have even more new programmes to announce in the coming weeks and we hope this will attract more students in the Middle East for future years as Heriot-Watt’s Dubai Campus continues to expand its presence in the region.”

© Gulf News

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ADEC approves first trimester exam schedules for the 2014-2015 academic year

adec approves first trimester exam schedules for the 2014 2015 academic year ADEC approves first trimester exam schedules for the 2014 2015 academic yearAbu Dhabi, UAE: The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) approved first trimester exam schedules for the 2014/2015 academic school year.

The exams will cover grade six to grade 12 in public and private schools (MoE curriculum), adult education centres and home schools across the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

In public schools, grade eight and nine tasks exams will be held on December 16 and 17. As for grade 10 and 11 (literary and scientific sections), tasks exams will be held from December 14 to 17.

Grade 12 literary section students in Abu Dhabi schools (public schools, morning and evening adult education centres and home schools) will be examined from December 7 to 18. In addition, grade 12 (scientific section) students will be examined from December 9 to 18.

In private schools, exams among morning adult education centres (Abu Dhabi, Al Wathba and Education Care Centres) for grade six to nine, will be organised from December 14 to 18. As for grades 10 to 11 (scientific and literary sections), exams will be held from December 10 to 18.

For evening adult education centres and home schools exams, Adec has already announced the schedule last week.

In the evening adult education centres, exams will start on December 7 to 11 for grade seven to nine, while for grades 10 to 11 (scientific and literary sections), exams will end on December 15.

As for home schools, exams will start on December 7. Grade seven exams will end on December 15. Exams for grade eight, nine and eleven (scientific section) will end on December 16. Grades 10 to 11 (literary section) exams will end on December 18.

To access exam schedules, please visit

© Gulf News

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Ministry of Education and Microsoft Join Efforts for Education Transformation

ministry of education and microsoft join efforts for education transformation Ministry of Education and Microsoft Join Efforts for Education TransformationAs part of its efforts to facilitate the adoption and integration of technology in the education process, Microsoft Bahrain, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, hosted a series of workshops over 3 days to discuss “Education Transformation” with representatives from the public and private education sectors.

Commenting on this initiative, Nawal Al Khater, Assistant Undersecretary for Planning and Information, Ministry of Educationsaid “Educational reform is a vital part of Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 and we are really pleased to have Microsoft, a global leader in the ICT sector as our technology partner. We highly value their support in keeping our team up to date with the latest technologies and applaud their continued investment in the Education sector locally and globally.”

“We are really excited to meet with the education community in Bahrain, listen to their challenges and introduce them to the latest solutions available to help them do their jobs more efficiently and achieve their learning objectives,” said Sherif Tawfik, General Manager for Microsoft in Bahrain and Oman. “At Microsoft, we assume our responsibility to provide Education institutions the needed training resources and building the local community to support the teaching of 21st century skills that prepare today’s Bahraini youth for the competitive future workforce.”

The two-day workshop, held on 24 and 25 November under the theme “A Transformation Framework for Education: Critical Components and Conversations for the 21st Century” was attended by over 30MoE staff members. This workshop discussedthe critical components needed to drive large-scale education transformation and technology deploymentand introduced the participants to the latest technical solution designs.

Nabil Khalil Saleh, eLearning Implementation Director at the Ministry of Education applauded Microsoft’s relentless efforts in supporting the education community in Bahrain and encouraged the players from the different educational institutions to benefit from these sessions that shed light on different global learning trends with a focus on the Gulf region and the lessons derived from these initiatives.

The “Education Day 2014″ workshop held on 26 November, attracted professionals from public and private schools as well as higher education institutions from across the Kingdom; this one-day think-tank session provided participants insights into the latest technologies that can create a smart learning environment to meet the needs of today’s students. During the course of the day, speakers from Microsoft Education and Tablet Academy highlighted the role that technology plays in pedagogy to deliver an enhanced learning experience to the students and support the teacher’s beyond the walls of the classroom.

The workshops were delivered by international experts such as Aidan McCarthy, Director of the Global Digital Learning Strategy team for Microsoft Corporation’s Worldwide Public Sector organization and Wole Moses, Education Devices Lead, Worldwide Education team at Microsoft Corporation; both veterans flew in to Bahrain specifically to deliver these sessions.

To conclude, Sherif Tawfik reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to supporting the development of the education system in Bahrain; he said “We believe that education is a very important investment in the future of individuals and nations and a vital component to achieve sustainable social and economic success. Consequently, we will continue working closely with the Ministry of Education and all educational establishments in Bahrain towards achieving the educational reform as part of the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030.”

© Press Release 2014

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IDP Education offers IELTS preparatory support across Middle East

idp education offers ielts preparatory support across middle east IDP Education offers IELTS preparatory support across Middle EastDubai, UAE: IDP Education, a global leader in student placement services and a proud co-owner of the internationally recognized IELTS test recently organized a series of its IELTS Masterclass sessions around the Middle East region – in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Istanbul and Cairo.

Conducted by an IELTS Expert, IELTS Masterclass is a 90-minutes class designed to support test takers aiming to achieve an IELTS band score of 6 or above. It is intended to help IELTS test takers improve their understanding of the IELTS test requirements and assessment criteria and also aims to encourage IELTS test takers to take a long term approach to improving their English skills through practice and through English language classes.

Since its launch in November 2012 in the Middle East, the IELTS Masterclass has attracted hundreds of IELTS test takers seeking to enhance their test taking skills to achieve their target scores. “The IELTS Masterclass was very helpful. In the reading section, I learnt how to skim the passage and I found that the most useful” said one candidate who attended the class in Cairo.

IDP Education is committed to continuing its support to IELTS test takers by offering IELTS Masterclass in the Middle East. To find out more about upcoming IELTS Masterclass sessions, please visit

© Press Release 2014

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Guest tops for Jumeirah College

guest tops for jumeirah college Guest tops for Jumeirah CollegeDubai, UAE: Rachel Guest of Jumeirah College was the standout athlete in the girls’ under-16 qualifiers at the CBD Youth Athletics Competition 2015 held at the Dubai Police Officers Club earlier this week.

Guest won the 400 metres and 800 metres heats to lead the qualifiers into the final round of the competition to be held early next year.

The Jumeirah College student clocked a time of 1 minute, 09.05 seconds in the 400 metres run and then finished the 800 metres in a time of 2:57.88 to earn her qualification to the finals.

Joining Guest on the final day in January will be the 4×100 metres relay quartet from Jumeirah College and Kayla Cokaya who went on to record the best time of 13.32 seconds to win the 100 metres for under-16 girls.

Defending champions Our Own High School Dubai also came up with a few good results led by Aarya Sivakumar’s 13.55 seconds in the 100 metres heats. And the Our Own relay team will be worthy challengers to the Jumeirah College after they clocked a best time of 56.08 seconds for a showdown between the two institutions in January.

As per the rules of the competition, the qualifiers will advance for a final round in January to vie for a total cash prize of nearly Dhs500,000. Individual performers will get cash awards depending on their placings, while the educational institutions also stand to win from the fund depending on the collective results of the students.

Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman, Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the CBD Youth Athletics Competition’s vision is to create, foster and develop an interschool contest while also bringing together local communities.

Organised by the Dubai Sports Council (DSC), the fourth edition of this annual competition is expected to have participation from more than 2,000 students from over 85 schools in Dubai competing in six age categories.

The preliminary qualifying rounds for the boys were held on November 17 and 18 and the girls qualifying concluded earlier this week. The grand finals for both boys and girls have been scheduled for January 24.

This competition that has been growing since it was first launched in 2011. Last year’s competition attracted more than 1,800 athletes from 82 schools from across Dubai.

© Gulf News

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May tree twist on National Day

may tree twist on national day May tree twist on National DayAbu Dhabi, UAE: A school has combined the traditions of its home country with those of the UAE to mark National Day.

At the German International School on Wednesday, parents, teachers, pupils and dignitaries joined to take part in a special ceremony.

It involved giving the German tradition of dancing around a “Maibaum”, or May tree, a UAE twist by using palm branches, which are a symbol of this country.

The performance was planned by Emirati artist Azza Al Qubaisi, who said she was making a cultural statement through her work.

“Many people come to live in UAE and leave without even touching the palm tree, which is an icon of this country,” she said.

“On National Day, I always choose to work with palm branches. I worked on them for the 40th National Day and have decided to use them ever since.”

The German International School invited Al Qubaisi to be a part of the celebrations. She conducted workshops for three weeks at the school.

The palm branches were created by pupils, with her help.

“The beauty of the project this year is that it is a mix of two cultures – German and Emirati,” said Al Qubaisi, adding that the artwork was made of recycled materials.

Al Qubaisi will be marking National Day at her house by decorating it with palm branches in the colours of the UAE flag.

Doerte Christensen, headmistress of the school, said: “The presence of Azza Al Qubaisi at the event brightened the ceremony. So many people were engaged together as a community.

“She is a prominent Emirati artist and she offered to hold workshops with the students. She did a lot of work with them, the results of which are displayed in the foyer.”

The ceremony included more than 200 children who danced, sang, and acted.

The German ambassador to the UAE, Dr Eckhard Lubkemeier, was also present at the festivities.

He said: “I don’t get to spend much time with children but it is great to see them so happy today.

“We celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall and today we are celebrating UAE’s National Day at the school.

“For many of us, this is our home and we thank the Emiratis for their warm welcome.”

Vera Dudden, a German who has been living in Abu Dhabi for five years, said this year’s National Day celebrations at the school were the best she had seen.

“The performances and organisation are really good. It was very different when I came here five years ago.

“The presence of the artist made the event more special,” said Ms Dudden, whose children study at the school.

© The National

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London Business School launches Dubai entrepreneur mentor scheme

london business school launches dubai entrepreneur mentor scheme London Business School launches Dubai entrepreneur mentor schemeDubai, UAE: Aspiring entrepreneurs at London Business School can now benefit from a new mentoring scheme launched in Dubai following a successful 18-month run with the School’s MBA students in London.

Launched at an event in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) by Kamalini Ramdas, Professor of Management Science and Operations and Deloitte Chair in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the ‘Entrepreneurship Mentor in Residence’ scheme gives entrepreneurial students and alumni access to year-round mentorship from four successful business personalities in the region.

Three former alumni – Genny Ghanimeh, Mohamed Nassar and Tommy Wakefield Smith – join Aman Merchant to sit the School’s first Dubai-based mentoring panel. Students, who currently have remote access to London-based mentors, will now have direct access to mentors up to twice a month for one-on-one consultations.

Jane Khedair, Head of Entrepreneurship, Career Services at London Business School, said:

“Premised on the success we have had in London, we are thrilled to launch the Entrepreneurship Mentor in Residence programme here in Dubai with four prolific entrepreneurs each with their own areas of specialisation.

“There really is no substitute for sitting across a desk from someone who has the experience and insights aspiring entrepreneurs need especially in those first few, daunting months. Students and alumni will now have the opportunity to benefit from mentors who each have considerable regional experience and know-how.”

Mohamed Nassar, who graduated with an MBA from London Business School in 2012 before setting up his own company, spoke to students at the School’s Dubai Centre:

“Dubai represents a fantastic place to launch your business – it is one of the few places in the Middle East where you can truly succeed by your own merit. In Dubai we are so used to importing ideas or products from the West or the East, I think now is the time to start making them our own.”

Students were addressed by keynote speaker Saygin Yalcin, Founder of, before asking the mentors-in-residence for their insights and guidance.

London Business School’s Dubai Centre is based in the DIFC where it teaches its Executive MBA programme, aimed at experienced professionals with an average of ten years’ work experience.

© Press Release 2014

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HCT Wins Arab Computer News Technology Awards for Third Consecutive Year

hct wins arab computer news technology awards for third consecutive year HCT Wins Arab Computer News Technology Awards for Third Consecutive YearAbu Dhabi, UAE: The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has won a major award for its electronic textbook implementation initiative at the 2014 Arab Computer News (ACN) Technology Awards.

It is the third year in a row that HCT has been honoured for its technology-focused initiatives at the prestigious annual awards.

The UAE’s largest higher education institution won the award for its eTextbook Implementation Project, which adds to its Education Implementation of the Year Award and Public Sector Service Implementation of the Year Award, won respectively at the 2013 and 2012 Awards.

The award is a result of the HCT implementing a bold initiative in the 2013/14 academic year to provide more than 150,000 eTextbooks, which are compatible with mobile devices, for free access by its students. The project will see the online resources eventually replace the HCT’s reliance on printed textbooks.

The Arab Computer News (ACN) Technology Awards are part of an annual event that recognises outstanding work in the field of Information Technology carried out in the Middle East region. As the Middle East’s most prestigious IT industry awards they celebrate world-class projects and implementations, leading vendor contributions and outstanding individual efforts.

Dr Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, said it was pleasing to see HCT rewarded for undertaking initiatives which enhanced students’ learning capabilities and enabled exemplary teaching and learning environments through the innovative uses of technology.

“This award is another wonderful example of the Higher Colleges of Technology’s ongoing commitment, as a leader of technology integration, to the implementation of innovative technologies and practices throughout our colleges, which result in HCT achieving excellence in education and equipping our students with the skills and knowledge to achieve their best in this technology-focused world,” Dr. Kamali said.

“This complete e-Textbook implementation strategy across the HCT system is a world-first initiative and it is another aspect of HCT’s dedicated technology integration strategy where our students are provided with ‘anytime anywhere’ access to their learning resources, which we have shown engages, retains and stimulates students on their educational journeys at our colleges,” he added.

“The HCT continues to embrace and integrate cutting-edge technologies and student-centred education practices so as to ultimately equip our graduates with the necessary skills for in-demand careers,” Dr Kamali said.

HCT’s Chief Technology Officer, Saif Salem Bamadhaf said that as a result of its technology integration strategies HCT teachers are able to innovate in their classrooms and laboratories by leveraging mobile technologies, while several best practices including flipped classrooms, innovative assessment strategies and in-house digital resources have emerged.

“With the successful implementation of this innovation initiative the HCT is well on its way to becoming the UAE’s number one higher education institution for applied, technical and technology-focused learning,” Mr Bamadhaf said.

Mr Bamadhaf added that the benefits of the eTextbook implementation included ‘anytime-anywhere learning’ for students; enhanced teaching and learning; rich and improved reading experiences; sustainability and an improvement of overall efficiencies with no cost to the students to access the materials.

In awarding the first prize for HCT’s e-Textbook strategy the judges considered the following submissions by HCT:

Green Initiative: Instead of using paper in printed textbooks, the eTextbook strategy is an environmentally friendly initiative where more than 20,000 students can access all their textbooks online for more than 7,000 course offerings every semester

Delivery Logistics: Previously HCT received paper textbooks centrally and then distributed them to its colleges. It was a large logistical challenge to ensure all students and teachers had the correct books for their courses each term. With the eTextbook model students and teacher gain access to the books instantly when they are enrolled in a course.

Just in Time Order: Prior to eTextbooks, HCT had to order books from publishers at least 90 days before the start of a semester, which could result in changes needed to match the enrollment numbers. With the eText book model HCT subscribes to the books as students and teachers are added to the course.

No More Lost Books: With physical books there used to be cases of students losing their books or forgetting them. With the eTextbooks students have access to all their text books anytime and anywhere.

No More Heavy Books: Students do not need to carry textbooks weighing from 5-15 kg every day. Instead they carry a light iPad which has all their e-books on it.

Higher Engagement: With paper books students could bookmark and highlight text, but with eTextbooks students can share their highlights and bookmarks with other students and teachers. They can start discussions with classmates and teachers in order to gain a better understanding of a topic. Teachers can also highlight important sections in the text for home works and exams.

Activity Tracking: With the eTextbook solution teachers can track and monitor the activity of their students. This helps teachers to focus on students who are not fully reading the text and help such students proactively before the exams.

The award was received by HCT representatives, Mr Saif Salem Bamadhaf (Chief Technology Officer), Khalid Tariq (Head of Enterprise Systems Development), Varghese Varghese (Senior Manager, IT Services), Waseem Baig (Manager, IT Planning and Coordination) and Anvaj Aliyarukutty (Infrastructure Services Analyst).

HCT was also a finalist of the CNME ICT Achievement Awards 2014 for the following two projects:

Disaster Recovery using Exadata and DataGuard Technologies (nominated by Oracle)

Lync and Office 365 Implementation (nominated by Microsoft)

© Press Release 2014

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