Zayed University Abu Dhabi's annual Spring Festival is raising money for cleaners. Dina El Shammaa reports.

Z ayed University (ZU) students showcased their talent through artistic and cultural activities at their annual spring festival last week. Held at ZU's Abu Dhabi campus, the festival, titled ZU Got Talent, was inaugurated by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and President of Zayed University.
The opening ceremony was marked by a band show by the Abu Dhabi Police, horse riders and a floral arrangement by the ZU Student Council highlighting the spring festival logo.

A variety of items including handicrafts, food, cosmetics and clothes were on display during the festival. Twelve students displayed handmade items while 24 manned booths stocked with a variety of products.

"Many students participated voluntarily in this festival. Every student has made an effort. Their products are the results of creativity and innovation," said Amal Al Khoury, activities coordinator, ZU.

Money to cleaners

According to Al Khoury this event is one among many initiatives ZU has organised. The proceeds will be donated to cleaners who Al Khoury said work over 12 hours a day for a modest income. "This is the first time we have collected money for cleaners, as usually it goes to children with special needs . We hope this helps make their lives better," she said.

ZU has invited experts in various fields to coach students during the festival. They include a painting teacher from the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, a makeup artist from Paris Gallery, a student who volunteered to hold a photography workshop, and a member from the Heritage Club who is teaching a course on etiquette.

Amna Al Belouqi, a 20-year-old majoring in Information Security and secretary of the Student Council, who was among those who met Shaikh Nahyan, helped organise the opening ceremony.

"I was mainly handling the opening ceremony when Shaikh Nahyan arrived. I got vendors and sponsors to join us at the festival and helped the girls design the spring festival poster," she said.

Al Belouqi said the event is a fun exercise in which students can share ideas. They also receive certificates of appreciation for their efforts.

"I have four photographs on display: a butterfly garden picture, Nemo the fish, a picture of a man working and a picture of a mountain scene. I priced all four pictures at Dh250. Students and parents can view and buy them," Al Belouqi added.

Lap-top covers

Khadija Al Marzouqi, 21, is studying Public Relations and Advertising and is in her third year at ZU. She is selling lap-top covers that her sister-in-law makes. They range in price from Dh150 to Dh170. There are also boxes of vine leaves for Dh10 and oriental dresses for women.

"I am learning how to deal with people and want to learn more about the market. My sister-in-law makes the items and I sell them. Shaikh Nahyan was surprised to see the lap-top covers, since they come in different shapes and colours and look a bit exotic. But that's the name of the game – to be different and creative," Al Marzouqi told Notes.

Khaloud Al Subaihi, 21, an Environmental Health major, is representing the Arabic Creative Literature Club. During the festival the club invited writers and poets to submit their work, which were uploaded onto a website. Three winners were announced at the end of the festival.

Business students Laila Budebes, 18, and Noora Al Awadhi, 20, are selling marshmallows and fruits with chocolate topping for D10 each.

"My greatest dream is to have my own business when I graduate, where I can have various chocolates, books, ladies garments for sale," Al Awadhi told Notes. "If my clients would like any of the products they simply need to fill out a card and I will hand deliver the product to their door. I got this idea from one of my business professors and I hope to implement it."

Budebes plans to master in human resources and would like to work in a company when she graduates. She feels she needs to learn more about company policies and the workforce before thinking of setting up a private business.

Both girls said they try to participate in as many clubs as possible and enjoy collecting funds to help children with special needs. Last year they were involved in raising money for breast cancer patients. Both said they will keep on donating for worthy causes.