UD new campus gets ready for September opening as 70% work completed

ud new campus gets ready for sep opening as 70 work completed UD new campus gets ready for September opening as 70% work completedDubai, UAE: His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chief Executive of Emirates Group, distributed graduation certificates to 114 students of the faculties of Management and Information Technology and Law during the 13th graduation ceremony of the University of Dubai at the Cultural and Scientific Association Auditorium in Dubai.

The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, Speaker of the Federal National Council; HE Majid Hamad Rahma Al Shamsi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University; HE Hamad Buamim, Director General of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Dr. Eesa M. Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai .

In his speech during the ceremony, HE Majid Hamad Rahma Al Shamsi said: “The high academic standing achieved by the University of Dubai is the result of sustained and committed efforts to develop the curricula and keep pace with the requirements of the times.”

Highlighting the major achievements of the university during the last year, HE Al Shamsi said University of Dubai now figures among 85 business schools which have extended their AACSB accreditation in business, offered by AACSB International, the longest serving global accrediting body for business schools. Also last year, the Faculty of Information Technology renewed international accreditation from the Council for Academic Accreditation of Engineering and Technology.

He pointed out that the university has also been awarded the British Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM-UK) Level 5 and Level 7 programmes, making it the first university in the Middle East to offer these certifications to its graduates of the Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, and MBA in Leadership & Human Resources Management. HE Al Shamsi also said the university has been ranked along with nine other universities from the UAE among the top 50 universities in the first QS University Rankings Arab Region report.

HE Al Shamsi said: “The launch of Dubai Plan 2021 has reinforced our commitment to the wise vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. We aim to stay ahead of the race and contribute to the growth of the country by focusing on innovation and excellence.”

Identifying the distinguished initiatives in this regard, HE Al Shamsi pointed out the memorandum of understanding with IBM Global to establish a Smarter Cities Institute and the announcement of a joint project with San Diego State University to establish a Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. He also said the university has launched new courses on subjects such as Islamic economics and Smart Cities, which are relevant to the future growth of Dubai’s economy.

HE Al Shamsi said the ongoing work on the new campus of the University of Dubai in Dubai Academic City reflects a major step forward in its journey. “I am pleased to reveal that 70 per cent of the work on the new campus has been completed. The new campus will accommodate 1,500 students. Its opening in September this year will be a major achievement for not only University of Dubai but also for the field of higher education in the UAE and the region,” HE Al Shamsi added.

Speaking on the occasion, student Ahmed Aljaziri called upon students to continue their pursuit for higher education. Aljaziri congratulated the parents of the students on the successful graduation and thanked the faculty and the University of Dubai for supporting the students in their educational process.

Another student, Sundas Ijaz, in a speech expressed pride in having the privilege of studying in an outstanding university as the University of Dubai , and thanked the parents for their support and encouragement.

The event was covered live by the University of Dubai ‘s social media channels.

© Press Release 2015

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Nahayan awards Abu Dhabi University’s strategic partners

nahayan awards abu dhabi universitys strategic partners Nahayan awards Abu Dhabi Universitys strategic partnersAbu Dhabi, UAE: In a ceremony held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi University recently recognized more than 75 of its strategic partners from various ministries, federal authorities as well as community organizations from both public and private sectors. Held under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region and President of Abu Dhabi University ‘s Board of Regents, and in the presence of H.E Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Vice President ADU ‘s Board of Regents, the celebration also recognized teams of faculty and staff who succeeded in securing international academic accreditation for ADU ‘s Colleges of Engineering and Business Administration.

During his speech. H.E Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan explained that this celebration is a testament to the maturity and advancement of the University as well as an embodiment of all the hard work put into its success on all levels. “The celebration is also a true representation of ADU ‘s deep pride in its relationships with its strategic partners who represent a positive force and valuable addition to the University’s success, through their continuous support for programs, students, faculty and staff. It gives me great pleasure to thank the University’s partners and sponsors for their initiatives and support which has had an important role in providing a rich and productive academic environment that stimulates students to excel and encourage them to work hard. To all ADU ‘s partners, I sincerely hope you continue your support for the University, which we appreciate, and cherish as well as consider an essential prerequisite for achieving excellence. Especially in providing various scholarships to all university students, led by the scholarship program of H.H Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which is a strong emphasis of His Highness’s confidence in ADU and its students”.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan added: “It gives me great pleasure on this occasion to point out that our nation has, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, placed great importance to the development of the potential and abilities of the nation’s sons and daughters. On this occasion, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, for his support of universities and higher education as an essential force in the advancement of our beloved country. We would also like to extend our appreciation and gratitude to H.H Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces for continuously advocating human development as the real wealth of this nation”.

H.E Sheikh Nahyan went on to explain that Abu Dhabi University has reached an advanced stage in its academic journey, offering students 31 undergraduate degrees and 17 postgraduate degrees in addition to the prestigious DBA program. “The University is also committed to universal standards in all curricula and programs which was awarded with international academic accreditation for both the College of Engineering and the College of Business Administration, which acts as a furthering impetus in achieving international academic accreditation from WASC. I would like to congratulate the teams of faculty and staff who ensured this new success, and emphasize that we have yet many responsibilities that require us to work together in the noble cause of prepping the nation’s sons and daughters as well as ensuring that ADU contributes the renaissance of the nation”.

The ceremony included a video that highlighted Abu Dhabi University ‘s pursuit of academic accreditation from ABET and AACSB, as well as the role of its strategic partners and supporters. After honoring the University’s partners, H.E. Ali Saeed Bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, Chairman of the ADU ‘s Executive Board presented His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan with a token of ADU ‘s appreciation which was a work of art by the student Ali Abdul Rahim from Abu Dhabi Autism Center.

© Press Release 2015

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The world of Arabic books springs to life for children

the world of arabic books springs to life for children The world of Arabic books springs to life for childrenFrom the UAE to Morocco, the Arab world has been witnessing a different kind of Arab Spring – that of the publishing kind.

The region has the smallest reading audience in the world, according to a recent UN Arab Human Development Report, but it has witnessed the establishment of many specialised children’s publishing houses.

Before their emergence, children’s books were a neglected side business. As a result, generations of children in the Arab world were offered boring and visually unappealing books or translated books from the West that did not reflect their environment. (The one exception being Dar El Fata El Arabi, which was set up in the 1970s to bring attention to the Palestinian cause.)

At the forefront of this new literary spring are women. These female “literary activists” are hoping to encourage reading from a young age and improve literacy in the Arab world.

However, they face a tough task because there are many challenges, such as a lack of talented writers, copyright issues, poor distribution links and the indifference of the cultural ministries. Lebanese publisher Nabeeha Al Meheidli is considered one of the pioneers of children’s publishing. She started the Dar Al Hadaek house more than 20 years ago to publish Arabic books for children that are written by Arabs.

“The Arab children have the right to have books that reflect their current reality, history, culture, and respect their intellect,” she says. Ms Al Meheidli is adamant that she does not want to translate from other languages. “We have tried our best to linguistically use a language that does not discourage the child from reading and use illustrations reflecting the Arab aesthetic tradition that is echoed in the child’s real world,” she says.

Dar Al Hadaek has published 350 titles, some of which have won local and international awards. One of its award-winning books is Creatures on the Ceiling.

It’s the story of Kareem, a poor boy who lives with his parents in a modest home. Through his vivid imagination, Kareem’s bedtime becomes a time of joy and wonder as he explores the magical world of his room’s ceiling.

Another trailblazer in this field, Amina Hashim, set up the first publishing house, Yanbow Al Kitab, for children in Morocco in 2004. Mrs Hashim focused on promoting Moroccan heritage through her books.

“We need the younger generation to have an insight into their rich history and only then will they have pride in their heritage,” she says.

One of Yanbow Al Hayat’s books, Mama prepares couscous, encourages children to explore Morocco’s cuisine.

Because Moroccan teachers did not know how to encourage reading, Mrs Hashim took on the task of training them to interact with children’s books. Her organisation holds training workshops in schools, particularly in the rural parts of Morocco.

“It is not enough just to publish the books, you also need to stimulate children’s curiosity to read them,” she says.

Dubai-based Safa Azmi runs Wahat Al Hekayat, a publishing house whose mission is to introduce Arabic to children in a simple, attractive and poetic way. Ms Azmi ventured into literature after realising that her bedtime stories were not only popular with her children but their friends as well.

“When my children were growing up I rarely found any nice Arabic books for them. So I ended making my own stories, which my kids loved,” she says. After one of her stories won a local award about 15 years ago, she left her job as a dentist to start writing full time. About four years ago, she set up her publishing house.

However, it has not been a smooth ride for the publishers. Mahmoud Hassonah, from the Arab Children’s Book Publisher’s Forum in Sharjah, says many publishers found it difficult to expand their offering of books because of weak sales.

Another hurdle is the lack of reliable figures about sales, book production, and difficulties with regional distribution, he says.

The average print run of a new book is between 1,000 and 3,000 copies, according to Ms Al Mehaidli. To add to the publisher’s misery, a high percentage of published books are never sold.

Many of these children’s books can only be found in libraries in the UAE, and are still not on sale in bookshops.

Ms Azmi, whose books are popular with teachers because they aid in teaching literacy, says publishers need support and proper distribution channels to ensure that their books are available outside their countries of origin.

Aware of parents’ inability to buy books in Morocco, Mrs Hashim initiated a grassroots campaign to distribute books to needy children.

“‘One child, one book’ is an initiative to distribute books to orphanages, associations and public schools across Morocco. So far we have distributed 100,000 books,” she says.

Despite all the hurdles, Ms Al Mehaidli is optimistic about the future for children’s books, as more publishers, especially women, are joining the fray.

Today the library of Arab children is richer thanks to the efforts of Ms Al Mehaidli and her peers.

© The National

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QU signs agreement on environmental research with Cefas

qu signs agreement with uks cefas QU signs agreement on environmental research with CefasUnited Kingdom-Qatar co-operation has been further strengthened with the signing of a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on environmental research, development and the exchange of academic staff and students.

The five-year agreement was signed by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, UK (Cefas), and Qatar University ( QU ).

The partnership aims to strengthen research and education at both institutions, enhancing collaboration and mutual understanding between academics and students.

Areas of co-operation are expected to include environmental education programmes, joint research activities and publications, exchange of staff, scholars and students, exchange of academic information and materials and participation in seminars, conferences and academic meetings.

Separate agreements detailing specific institutional activities, for example with the university’s Environmental Studies Centre (ESC), are expected to follow.

Mike Waldock, chief executive officer, Cefas, said, “This new academic partnership heralds an important new era for UK-Qatar collaboration in the fields of environmental studies, marine science and research. We very much look forward to working in co-operation with our Qatari partners to deliver mutual benefits for both organisations, our countries and most importantly our shared global environment.”

QU president Prof Sheika Abdulla al-Misnad said, “Following the successful seminar in April hosted by the Environmental Studies Centre at Qatar University for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science of the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, I am pleased to announce that a memorandum of understanding has been signed between ESC and Cefas to begin a scientific partnership and collaboration.

“Cefas is the leading government scientific body on marine science in the UK and is renowned internationally for its evidence-based scientific guidance on the marine environment. Cefas has active projects in the Gulf region and its partnership with ESC will benefit not only Qatar, but the GCC region as a whole.

“ESC’s collaboration with Cefas will provide invaluable access to Cefas laboratories and expertise for staff and students at Qatar University , and will stimulate greater scientific exchange and endeavour between Qatar and the UK. In short, this is a major opportunity that will lead to many excellent research opportunities within a strong, scientific framework.”

© Gulf Times

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Arab universities still face ranking challenges

arab universities still face ranking challenges Arab universities still face ranking challengesAbu Dhabi, UAE: Problems with funding, ineffective data collection at an institutional level and a preference to publish research papers in Arabic instead of English remain the major obstacles facing universities in the Middle East hoping to climb international rankings.

Despite several UAE institutions making it into the Times Higher Education rankings for the Mena region for the first time this year, other universities will struggle unless these issues are addressed, according to academics.

Speaking at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, Dr Said Saddiki, associate professor of international law and international relations at Al Ain University, said that although regional universities publish a lot in Arabic, their standing remains weak because researchers’ citations are still low.

“Measurements don’t depend on the publications, but the citations. The English language is favoured,” he said.

In international rankings, citations are measured in English and the top journals are published in English.

The Times Higher Education, QS and Shanghai rankings look at different criteria, with each weighted differently. These range from number of citations to research activity, international student body, quality of student life and range of programmes offered.

In the Times rankings for the Mena region, UAE University was 11th, American University of Sharjah 17th and Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi 20th.

Abu Dhabi University, UAE University and the American University of Sharjah have all made it into the QS rankings in the 400+ category. A mandate by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education ensures that the majority of classes are taught in English.

In response to what he sees as “Westernised criteria”, Bayan Hani Harab, a former professor and now education consultant, called for the creation of Arab rankings compiled by Arabs.

“We need Arab criteria, evaluating ourselves in our own language. We need to classify ourselves rather than have those outside classifying us.”

However, Dr Saddiki said this was not a solution, because universities still want to be placed on the international stage alongside the world’s brightest and best.

“If we rank ourselves, we may not offer a service to the universities that are competing with international universities,” he said. “We need to include international criteria.”

Dr Saddiki said funding was an ongoing concern because “there is a lack of comprehensive policies to reach international standards” blaming a “weakness of participation” by the private sector to fund research. “More than 90 per cent of funding comes from the public sector.”

In the US, most of the investment in universities comes from the private sector.

Arab universities, said Dr Khalid bin Hamdan from Abu Dhabi Police, are too focused on quantity and not quality.

“We are interested in grades, the individual rather than group work. The support of our countries for higher education, if we measure that support compared to western countries, is very weak.”

Suha Sayed, from the Office of Scholastic Donations, said key data was often lacking, which means submitting applications for rankings was difficult.

“At UAE University two years ago there was a conference regarding this issue of rankings and the most important issue was the subject of data. It’s very hard to get data. We were really surprised when it comes to the universities whether in the UAE or other Arab countries, they don’t have any consistent, well-managed, clear data.

“Getting information from universities is hard, it’s a real challenge.”

© The National

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United Arab Emirates University honours partners and graduates

united arab emirates university honours partners and graduates United Arab Emirates University honours partners and graduatesAl Ain, UAE: United Arab Emirates University has honoured its strategic partners and praised its former graduates.

At the ceremony on Wednesday, which was held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak, Minister of Higher Education and chancellor of the university, 58 federal, government and private organisations were honoured.

Dr Mohammed Al Baili, the vice chancellor for academic affairs, conveyed Sheikh Hamdan’s greetings to all partners and thanked them for their support that contributed to the UAEU’s achievements in the past year.

He said this included an improved global ranking, having 31 registered patents and 12 other patents in the process of registration, as well as 1,114 essays by professors.

Dr Al Baili added that many of the university’s Emirati graduates had gone on to improve the country’s scientific and cultural scene.

“The UAEU operates within a well-developed strategy to reach the set goals of scientific and academic excellence,” Dr Baili said, noting that many graduates have become pioneers in their fields.

The ceremony featured a presentation on the UAEU’s 2014-2016 plan, describing its vision, mission and objectives on the academic and administrative levels. Guests also heard a musical performance that chronicled the university’s history.

The university was founded in 1976 by the late Sheikh Zayed, Founding Father of the UAE, and about 14,000 Emirati and international students are enrolled. It is ranked the top research university among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

© The National

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Meet the CBSE top students in the UAE

meet the cbse top students in the uae Meet the CBSE top students in the UAEDubai, UAE: At first glance, science stream student Adya Kiran from the Indian High School in Dubai appears to have scored the highest grade in the UAE — 98 per cent — in the Indian Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE).

“It feels great to come on top. I am proud of myself. I would like to thank my parents, teachers and God. I started studying from grade 11 and I had to deactivate Facebook and WhatsApp in order to stay focused on my studies. All the hard work that I put into studying has paid off,” Kiran said.

She hopes to pursue a career in computer science engineering and is waiting to find out if she has been accepted in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), one of the most prestigious universities in India.

Shruthi Suresh Iyer from Indian High School in Dubai came second in the UAE and the science stream with 97.8 per cent.

Other students placed in the top realms of their respective academic streams.

Ashly Maria Saju from GEMS Our Own English High School, Sharjah, ranked first in the commerce stream with 97 per cent.

In the humanities stream, Vidya Vijay from Delhi Private School, Sharjah and Aneika Sequeira tied for first place by scoring the highest in the UAE with 94.8 per cent.

The UAE high achievers were determined based on information received by individual schools across the UAE — tallying a definitive list of top students was difficult on Monday, given no official master list was issued by educational authorities.

On the other hand, Vidya Vijay, who came on top in the humanitarian stream in the UAE with 94.8 per cent, also said she was very surprised with her grade. “The biggest challenge for me was the history exam so I was shocked when I got 97 per cent in it,” she said.

Vijay has been accepted at Christ University, where she hopes to pursue a triple major in English, psychology and journalism.

Anika Sequeira, who also got 94.8 per cent in the humanitarian stream and was also accepted at Christ University for the same major, advised students to revise all their class work.

“Students who want to do well in the CBSE exams should not try to meet others’ expectations. They should set their own standards and try to meet them,” Anika advised.

Ashly Maria Saju who came first at the UAE level in the commerce stream with 97 per cent said she studied seven to eight hours a day for her CBSE exams.

“All the time spent studying was definitely worth it. The biggest challenge was balancing time between studying, friends and family. I started my accountancy course in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.”

© Gulf News

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Emirati students will attend US universities’ space programmes

emirati students will attend us universities space programmes Emirati students will attend US universities’ space programmesAbu Dhabi, UAE: The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre will send students to American universities this summer as part of the UAE’s Mars Mission Hope.

They will undergo an intensive programme in space sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Colorado Boulder that will help them along a career path as Emirati scientists and engineers.

“We don’t have a proper career path for scientists,” said Omran Sharaf, the centre’s project manager of the Emirates Mars mission, at the second day of the Global Space and Satellite Forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

“Anyone in physics or chemistry ends up teaching or working in a laboratory.”

He added that “through this mission, they can still focus on mathematics and chemistry and contribute significantly to the development of the nation.”

He said he hoped more students would be sent abroad.

“The mission will establish different activities in the UAE that will create knowledge to use in different sectors, like better understanding the Earth’s atmosphere or in health care by developing biomedical equipment or to detect certain types of diseases,” Mr Sharaf said.

“This will create new opportunities for UAE scientists and engineers to hopefully get into the private sector and start businesses to support our activities. So, instead of hiring engineers, we can subcontract Emirati engineers and it will create a sustainable strong science and technology sector that has a direct contribution to our economy,” he said.

Creating that sector in the UAE, building local scientific capabilities and supporting a knowledge-based economy in the country is a significant objective of the mission.

“To have continuous growth, we need to have an established science and technology sector within the UAE,” Mr Sharaf said. “The Government identified this gap in the science and technology sector through establishing the UAE Space Agency and the centre which will help support that.”

The goal will also be to restore the Arab region as a major knowledge centre, as it once was in the past.

“The UAE thought it would be a first step to restart that,” he added. “Getting to Mars isn’t the main objective, it’s a means to a bigger objective. The region was very active a long time ago in giving to humanity through knowledge, and the Mars mission is one of these initiatives.

“Many things are happening within the region currently so this mission is a mission of hope to the region and the youth within the region that there are other options available and you can be a better contributor to the world and humanity.”

Dr Mike Mcgrath, director of engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, said the UAE mission was gaining world attention.

“Over the course of coming here, I experienced something quite different than the US which is an optimism, an attitude and an approach that recognises the difficulty of space but still looks forward to the challenge,” he said. “One of the biggest differences is working with the people involved and the focus and motivation of the people. It’s the level of teamwork that’s been possible that’s different to what we experienced in the US and we have not worked on anything like this before.”

James Crocker, vice president and general manager of Space Systems Company International at Lockheed Martin, said passion among young engineers was crucial.

“It’s more than just the ability to do the maths right,” he said. “Planetary and space exploration are the most complicated, difficult and challenging things that humans have attempted to do. But at the end of the day, when you’re successful, you change the way we think of the universe, it will change the way people think of you and what you think of yourself and that’s what exploration is really about.”

© The National

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Child development centre hopes to help more Emiratis after move to new Dubai home

child development centre hopes to help more emiratis Child development centre hopes to help more Emiratis after move to new Dubai homeDubai, UAE: Mariam Khamis believes there are no limits to how much her daughter Khadeya can achieve.

Khadeya, who has Down syndrome, was first enrolled at the Dubai Early Childhood Development Centre when she was six months old. Now, aged five, the Emirati attends pre-kindergarten at the Collegiate American School in Dubai along with mainstream pupils.

Her success has been a revelation for Mrs Khamis.

“I had the wrong idea that Down syndrome children die early, but when I came here I saw how they are nurturing children in a natural environment, and teaching us to help her live like a normal person. Now I don’t see any limits for her. She is the sunshine of my house. For me the centre is like Khadeya’s family.”

First based in Academic City, the centre moved to a custom-built facility in Al Manara just off Sheikh Zayed Road on Wednesday, where it is hoped staff will be able to accommodate the 100 Emirati children on a waiting list for places by the end of the year.

“Our ultimate aim is that in a six-month period we will have no waiting list, and we clear all the 100 children waiting to join,” said Khaled Al Kamda, the director general of the Community Development Authority.

The centre, a CDA initiative, provides free assessments, counselling, speech and language and physiotherapy for Emirati children identified with a range of special needs, including Down syndrome and autism, from birth until six years.

The facility, which cares for 70 children, has two physiotherapy and 15 therapy rooms to aid its aim of involving parents.

“The parent is a part of our programme because we find people tend to forget the impact on the family, so the job of our psychologists and psychiatrists is to help parents handle the children and to take a load off them. When we give knowledge to parents to be implemented at home, we can gauge the progress here,” Mr Al Kamda said.

The facility was inaugurated by Sheikh Mansour Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Supreme Committee to Protect the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Mr Al Kamda said parents should have their children assessed early. “One issue we are facing is that sometimes parents don’t believe they and the child need help. This is denial.

“They go from doctor to doctor thinking a prescription or injection will make the child better.

“First, the parents have to accept, seek help and stay with a long-term programme because this is not like flu that you can take some medication.”

Six more therapists will soon be recruited to the 20-strong staff to cope with increased capacity, while the centre also has plans to take physiotherapy, and speech and language consultation and assessment services on the road, with two mobile rehabilitation vehicles conducting sessions across the emirates. These services are free for Emiratis.

“This is our outreach to the community, and will reach even rural areas,” said Sheikha Dr Alia Humaid Al Qassimi, the CDA’s director of social programmes and inclusion.

“Our aim is to work with the family because they are the key, they decide the goals and we work with them to identify the barriers, and go past.”

© The National

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Zayed University study gives snapshot of opinions on polygamy

zayed university study gives snapshot of opinions on polygamy Zayed University study gives snapshot of opinions on polygamyAbu Dhabi, UAE: A student at Zayed University has sought to provide a snapshot of current opinions on polygamy through a survey of Emirati men and women in various emirates.

Mariam Al Zaabi interviewed 70 men and 130 women from across the country and, although the sample is small, she found about four fifths of the men she spoke to in Abu Dhabi and two thirds in Dubai said they agreed with the concept, compared with less than half in the Northern Emirates.

Ms Al Zaabi, 21, who is graduating in international relations, said reasons for this were debatable. “You would think people would assume that due to the urbanisation of Abu Dhabi and Dubai they would be less accepting of polygamy, but from the research, this is not what we found,” she said.

Only one in 10 women said they would accept polygamy. Most say monogamy was more stable, as the Islamic rules of justice to each wife were not easily fulfilled and polygamy caused marital problems.

Men who preferred monogamy say more than one marriage cost too much money and time, and it would be difficult to ensure justice to each wife.

The Quran ruling in verse three of Al Nisa’a says: “Marry the woman of your choice in twos, threes or fours but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, then only one.”

“A popular joke is that guys in the UAE memorise the first part of verse three, and women remember the second part, so it’s like none of the population is reading the verse fully, or as it’s intended to be read,” Ms Al Zaabi said.

Male respondents in their mid-30s to 50s tend to be more influenced by religion than finances, and both sexes agree polygamy could be justified if the first wife had fertility problems.

Dr Natasha Ridge, the head of research at Al Qassimi Foundation for Policy Research in Ras Al Khaimah, said a study she conducted on 200 male high-school pupils in 2007 and 2013 showed 20 to 25 per cent of families in RAK were polygamous.

She was investigating the high rate of male Emirati dropouts, about 12 per cent, which she said were often a result of a polygamous father.

“Polygamy means less time for the father involved and it may also mean that when he is involved, it is more as a disciplinarian than a positive influence,” Dr Ridge said. “It can function similarly to a divorce, as a disrupter of family life.”

Ms Al Zaabi’s supervisor, Habibul Khondker, said her research was valuable. “It addresses an important sociological issue – the impact of social change and modernisation on the institution of family in Emirati culture. As the UAE society is undergoing rapid progress, such research can add important insights to the understanding and assessment of modernisation of Emirati society.”

© The National

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