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Lubna Al Qasimi: Students Are Key To Our Nation's Prosperous Future

18 Sep 2018

H.E Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qassimi, President of Zayed University, affirmed the UAE continuously stands for harmony, compassion, and tolerance, these are the traditions that the Leadership and people hold dearly, and were often stressed by our late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to whom the nation pay tribute this year on the 100 anniversary of his birthday.

This came during her opening notes at the 20th Zayed University Convocation Ceremony, which was held yesterday (Tuesday) at the university premises in Abu Dhabi.

“I’d like to seize this opportunity and renew our appreciation to our government lead by the President, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to whom we express our deep gratitude for his solid and continued support.  To HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, for the inspiration, direction, and follow-up his highness provides to the University so it can achieve distinction. And to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, for his wise directives and wide-ranging support of the University.”

“We also cherish with profound esteem and gratitude HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs for his support of the University’s mission, and HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Education and Human Resources Council, for his patronage of the University and all the higher education sector to deliver the qualified graduates who contribute to the current and future prosperity of the nation.”

Her Excellency also remembered and prayed for the heroic martyrs and saluted the armed forces who put their lives on the line for peace and stability in the region.

The ceremony was attended by Prof. Reyadh Al-Mehaideb, Zayed University Vice-President, and Dr. Abdel Mohsen Onsy, Associate Provost and Chief Academic Officer, deans, faculty members, and staff from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai campuses.

H.E Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi stated that the university, this year, has its largest enrollment yet at 10,500 students, supported by slightly above 600 full-time faculty, staff, and administrators, including around a hundred who joined since our last Convocation.  Among the new faculty and staff are 9 Emirati faculty, and 33 Emirati staff. “We now have 50 UAE national faculty members, demonstrating to the young generation that the doors of success are open to them in any field,” she said.

She further extended her sincere gratitude to all faculty and staff coming from 80 different countries, with best qualifications, skills, and talents that will help Zayed University fulfill the stated vision as “The leading university in the region for excellence in educational innovation, research, and student leadership development that serves the changing needs of the nation in economic, social and cultural advancements”.

Throughout its 20-year history, and in addition to providing high quality education, Zayed University has contributed to instilling in its students a sense of duty and responsibility to family, country, and a peaceful world.  

“Our students serve patriotically in the armed forces, in the police, and in different public and private organizations.  They provide benefits to others through volunteer work, both at home and abroad, including at such high-profile events as the Special Olympics,” Lubna Al Qasimi said.  With education should come an understanding of our limits, but also a desire to push against those limits.  

“No one knows more about pushing against limits than our wonderful Students of Determination. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, People of Determination, is a formal title that was designated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in recognition of the hard work and dedication of differently-abled people.

He specifically emphasized education as one of the keys to success for People of Determination.  “I am proud to say that Zayed University is a national leader in providing innovative services center to ensure that Students of Determination have the full benefits of a university education. I take every opportunity I can to tell people about the amazing Assistive Technology labs we have on both campuses, and the wonderful work that our Student Accessibility Services department is doing to carry out the directive of His Highness.”

Zayed University continues to develop new programs and finds more ways to make a positive impact on the nation and the world.  There are plans regarding the Dubai campus expansion, which will bring new classrooms and laboratory spaces and introduce new programs to male students at this campus.

The university is in various stages of developing new and exciting programs in different disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels, which will materialize in the next few years. These developments are all part of a dynamic university that redesigns its programs to meet the changing needs of society.

“Next to the academic programs, nothing is more relevant to the nation’s development than its ability to innovate through research and development to create better value and new types of small and medium enterprises.”  This is so important that in 2014 His Highness the Prime Minister announced the National Innovation Strategy.  The government’s innovation strategy is built on the belief that building human capital is far more critical than urban development, and that a world-class education system is one of the primary foundations for fostering innovation.

We promote innovation in the UAE not simply by training the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.  Universities themselves should be dynamic centers of research, innovation, and creativity, where an idea can develop into a product, a business, an invention, a work of art, or a piece of original research.  

The UAE government has identified seven broad sectors for innovation: energy, transportation, technology, education, health, water, and space.  “With the range of expertise at Zayed University, and our creative and active community we can contribute to all of these areas.  In this regard, I am especially pleased that Zayed University has aligned its curriculum to train students to become innovators and has established a new Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, with the participation of a wide range of disciplines,” She added.  

She appreciated the work that the students have done to bring increased visibility and respect to Zayed University.  Zayed University students already proudly represent their families, their university, and their country in a variety of ways: through research presented internationally, through artistic displays, or through athletic competitions.  “I often hear from employers in both the public and private sectors that they are eager to hire more Zayed University graduates.  Our alumni continue to move into positions of greater responsibility in government, business, health care, media, and education, and to make important contributions in culture and the arts.”  

She pointed out that there is something very distinctive about universities.  “I have led ministries, I have run businesses, I have worked with governments and NGOs, and with almost every other type of organization imaginable.  In my experience, however, universities are special in ways that make them uniquely important for the future of any country.  Every institution of course has goals, projects, policies, and resources.  Zayed University is no different.  But let me describe why I believe being at a university—and Zayed University in particular—is especially important.”

Zayed University is a community of more than 11,000 people, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators.  Only around 3% of those people are involved in support services and management of the university.  Everyone else, thousands of people, faculty as well as students, are here to learn, to discover new knowledge, to disseminate knowledge, and to use knowledge to understand the lessons of the past, solve the problems of the present, and create a future that allows individuals and societies to thrive.  

For some of you this is your job, but for most of you this is also your passion.  That is what makes a university so special.  The world of knowledge, ideas, innovation, creation, teaching, learning—this is our world.  It is the most exciting work there is, because it is work that transforms.  It transforms individuals, and it transforms societies.


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