Here in the UAE we hear so much about the future of my home country – our Rulers’ vision and the growth and development it entails.
Less audible are the thoughts and feelings of the young UAE nationals who will help to lead the country’s development tomorrow.
As one of the new wave of UAE-educated technical graduates, I’d like to share my rationale for choosing to be part of the country’s knowledge economy ambitions.
Two years ago, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. Then, my aim was to gain further skills and begin a successful career. My concern, like that of many young graduates, was that I would only be able to find such an opportunity overseas.
I did not want to have to leave my country to pursue education as was done by so many Emiratis before me. The UAE is my home as it has been the home of my ancestors.
I wanted my own young son to grow up knowing of his heritage and benefiting from the beauty of family and culture.
When I heard of a new research institution being opened in Abu Dhabi, I was curious to see if it truly was offering a world-class educational experience. Would it really help me to become a competitive and professional engineer who could hold my own in local or international companies?
A visit to the campus convinced me this university was focused clearly on training technical professionals in fields that the leadership was developing.
I enrolled in the engineering systems management course because it combined engineering with management – the former being my own intellectual passion, while the latter relates to a great economic need.
With the country’s many large and complex development projects, there is a huge need for engineers trained in strategy, operations and systems thinking.
During my master’s degree studies I focused my research on the search for ways to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from petroleum refineries, an important issue for all petroleum producing economies.
I presented my research at the World Future Energy Summit and made it the focus of my graduate thesis.
Now, having graduated, I am back at the point of assessing what to do next. For me, the answer has been to study further and so I have enrolled for a doctorate at the Masdar Institute.
By learning how to do applied operational research for mathematical optimisation that solves real world problems, one becomes empowered with a tool that can help solve many problems, such as optimal planning and scheduling.
The Government has identified nine pillars of the Emirate’s social, political and economic future. Two of them – building a knowledge-based economy and making the most of the UAE’s and Abu Dhabi’s resources – are directly related to Masdar Institute’s focus and my own PhD studies.
With the work that is being done today, I am confident my 2-year-old son will grow up in a UAE with a diversified, knowledge-based economy in which a highly educated population from a mixed background pool their experience and loyalty towards advancing this community.
I also hope he will receive the education and training he needs to join one of the critical industries, where he can accomplish great things without compromising future generations’ welfare or his ancestors’ legacy.
With each year, I am optimistic that more and more of my Emirati brothers and sisters will join me in advanced technical studies.
I urge them to look closely at what our country has accomplished so far in its brief modern history for inspiration to help to develop the country further.
They should see also they are being given every opportunity to contribute to its future with education, training, internships, placement – anything that can help them reach their own potential.
The future will only be as bright as the minds of today’s youth. We must all do our best to give back to the country that gave us so much, and to preserve and build on what Sheikh Zayed started.
Noura Ahmed Sultan Al Dhaheri is among the inaugural graduates from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. She will be pursuing her doctorate at Masdar Institute this autumn