International universities come to UAE attracting Arabs, Asians

Students are seen at the entrance of the Middlesex University Dubai in this screengrab from a video posted on YouTube. (Middlesex video via YouTube)
Updated 14 September 2017
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International universities come to UAE attracting Arabs, Asians

DUBAI: Tough visa policies in the West have led to international universities focusing on the UAE as an alternative academic destination for many Arab and Asian students.
“Considering the fact that immigration policies in the US and some European countries have become stricter in the last couple of years, Dubai is a great alternate option,” Dr. Cedwyn Fernandes, director of Middlesex University Dubai, told Arab News.
“For most nationalities, a student visa is issued within two weeks, and the rejection rate is negligible.”
He said the UAE has emerged as one of the most important educational hubs in the world, and hosts around 27 international branch campuses from 12 countries — the highest number of international campuses in any country.
“As the host of such a wide range of internationally renowned branch campuses, the UAE attracts students from South Asia and surrounding Arab countries,” Fernandes added.
“Students in branch campuses study the same curriculum and obtain a similar degree to a student studying in the main campus. Some of the universities even provide an option for students to transfer to their main campus.”
Despite securing admission to Hennepin Community College in Minnesota, Abu Dhabi-based Adel Samir Hammoud’s student visa application to the US was rejected twice.
“It’s very frustrating,” said the 17-year-old Lebanese student who was born and raised in the UAE.
“I have no option other than to apply again next year. But this time I’ll opt for universities in the UK, and if I’m rejected I’ll continue my studies in the UAE. I can’t afford to waste my time anymore.”
According to Hammoud, many of his Arab friends face the same situation. “Things are becoming difficult in the West, especially in the US, which was once academic heaven,” he said. “Now we (Arab and Asian students) have to find alternative places to pursue our dreams.”
Fernandes said the reduced cost of education, a low crime rate and geographical proximity are other factors attracting students to the UAE.
Maryam Faisal, a 20-year-old Indian who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and moved to Dubai two years ago to study medicine, said: “Going to India for a degree was never on the cards because of the academic system there, which is very different from American and British education. And going to the US or UK is not just an expensive affair but also very far.”


New Iraqi coalition ‘in three days’

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, meets with Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr in Baghdad early Sunday. Al-Sadr, whose coalition won the largest number of seats in Iraq's parliamentary elections, says the next government will be "inclusive." (Iraqi government via AP)
Updated 21 May 2018
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New Iraqi coalition ‘in three days’

  • The Sairoon alliance led by the powerful Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won the May 12 election with 54 parliamentary seats.
  • While Al-Sadr can not become prime minister, he is playing a key role in the talks.

BAGHDAD: Iraqi political forces have made “remarkable” progress in talks to form the largest parliamentary bloc in preparation for a new government, politicians involved in the negotiations told Arab News.

The Sairoon alliance led by the powerful Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr won the May 12 election with 54 parliamentary seats.

Talks aimed at forming a new government started immediately after the official results were announced late on Friday.

The parliamentary alliance is expected to be announced in the next few days, and while Al-Sadr can not become prime minister, he is playing a key role in the talks.

Dhiyaa Al-Assadi, the head of Sadrist Parliamentary bloc, told Arab News they have initial agreements with several key political players including the current prime minister Haider Al-Abadi and his Al-Nassir coalition and the prominent Shiite cleric Ammar Al-Hakim and his list Al-Hikma.

He added they also have basic agreements with Vice President Ayad Allawi and his Al-Wattiniya alliance along with several Kurdish parties.

“The post of prime minister is not our main goal,” Al-Assadi said. “Our goal is to make the required reforms and correct the mistakes that dominated the political process since 2003.”

Shiite politicians involved in the talks said the nucleus of the alliance is Sairoon and Hikma and negotiations are underway with Al-Abadi and the pro-Iranian Al-Fattah list to join.

“The details are supposed to be settled soon and the coalition supposed to be announced within 72 hours,” Hikma spokesman Mohammed Al-Maiyahi told Arab News. 

The talks have focussed on deciding the form of the next government, its principles and program, sources involved said. 

Abandoning the power sharing government, which has been adopted by political parties since 2003, is the most prominent issue agreed by the negotiators.

“We have agreed to form a national majority government. A government that represents all of Iraq's contents (Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds) but does not include all the winning parliamentary blocs,” a senior Shiite politician told Arab News.

Rejecting foreign intervention in Iraqi affairs, writing a clear government program and pledging to implement it according to certain time limits, are also principles agreed between negotiators.

They decided not to nominate anyone for a ministerial position considered to have failed in previous posts or who has been involved in corruption. 

“The government program is initial and the nominated prime minister has to be committed to its details and its time limits,” the politician said. 

“He (the nominated PM) would be fired after a year, if he fails to meet the items of the government program and its time limits.”

The victory by Sairoon, an alliance of candidates from various affiliations, came amid low voter turnout with many Iraqis jaded by corruption and the lack of progress under recent governments.

Al-Fattah, which is headed by Hadi Al-Amiri, the commander of Badr Organization, one of the most prominent paramilitary groups, won 47 seats and came second. Al-Nassir came third with 44 seats, but its leader, Prime Minister Al-Abadi is still in a strong position to keep his job.

The negotiations need to form an alliance that consists of no less than 166 seats - half of the total in parliament plus one.