The Fifth Students Camp organised by the Ministry of Education brought together the creme de le creme of UAE national students to prepare them for international competitions and conferences to be held this year.

Participants came from all over the UAE for the one-week event at the in Etisalat Academy.

The camp included computing workshops, Arabic language classes and arts and craft courses.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will sponsor the students to go to Saudi Arabia for Umrah at the end of the camp.

The competitions they will go for

"Top computing students will be representing the UAE in the International Olympiad in Informatics in the Ukraine and the regional Computing Competition in July," said Alia Al Murr, head of the camp's media committee and Arabic language supervisor at the Ministry of Education.

"Top Arabic language students will be participating in the Arab League's Arabic Language competition in Cairo in March. Art students will get a chance to attend the Arab Children's Congress in Amman also in July."

The goals

The meeting of minds sought to at hone students' skills, enhancing their education and prepare them to take part in international events.

According to Al Murr, the students went through a tough selection process before they were chosen for the camp.

"Schools have to choose their top students, who had to compete with their peers in the same education zone, then on the UAE level. At the end we chose the best ones. We hope that in the coming years there will be a stronger presence from female students," she said.

Female participation this time included 18 students.

During the camp students sat for two days of leadership and strategic thinking seminars followed by regular classes.

Nine computing students took 30 credit hours of programming and C++ classes.

Ten art students were required to finish 48 credit hours in plastic art, while 36 students sat for poetry reading, creative writing and public speaking courses that add up to 37 credit hours.

"We grouped students from grade four to six together in one team. Those in grades seven to nine were placed in another. Participants from grade 10 to 12 were put in a separate group. We wanted to make sure that the students are on similar levels," said Al Murr.

Name: Asma Mohammad Karam
Participation: Arabic language workshop
Grade: 12
School: Jameela Buhaired Secondary School, Kalba

"This is the second time that I have participated in the camp. It's a great opportunity to learn how to become a leader, independent, creative and capable of representing the UAE internationally. We have national talent and this camp is one way to enhance our capabilities.

"During my participation [last year], I had the opportunity to attend the Arab Children's Congress in Jordan where I met students from all over the Arab world. I am in the science track at school, but I am very interested in the Arabic language. You never know, one day I will be a doctor and a published poet."

Name: Ahmad Abdullah Al Dusari
Participation: Art
Grade: 11
School: Hamdan Bin Rashid Secondary School, Dubai

"I am more interested in pencil and charcoal drawings. Most of the time, my work revolves around portraying nature and people. I like the camp because I feel encouraged to try different things and meet new people. It's a very nice idea."

Name: Hussain Ali Salim
Participation: Computing workshop
Grade: Nine
School: Othman Bin Al A'as Preparatory School

"I think the camp is a great way to learn to depend on myself and make more friends. This is the first time I am participating and I am hoping to learn more from this experience. My interest in computers started last year. I have taken part in poetry reading, English, mathematics, science and acting competitions before, but computing is something I am very interested in and would like to pursue further."

Name: Saoud Al Nuaimi
Participation: Arabic language workshop
Grade: Eight
School: Al Tafawouq Model School, Al Ain

"This is the first time I am taking part in the camp. I think it's a great idea and I had fun. In the seminars and classes we sat for lectures, but we also got to participate in debates and discussions. The professors were also great because they did not make us feel bored. The other day two and a half hours passed in class and I didn't know it."

"I learned how to develop my personality, how to turn the negatives in our lives into positives, how to plan ahead and how to apply true Islamic values to life.

"I think I am really good in terms of public speaking and poetry reading, but this camp has helped me find ways to enhance my understanding of grammar."

Name: Ahmad Sulaiman
Participation: Arts and craft workshop
Grade: 11
School: Al Dahma' Model School, Al Ain

"This is the second time I have taken part in the camp. Last year I do not think I put my 100 per cent into the work, but this year there is so much competition and I am planning to give it my best.

"The idea of the camp is great. I have learned a lot. For example, I know now about the nine schools of art. I learned about the different styles. I am more into impressionism. Almost three quarters of my work is within this school.

"I have taken part in many competitions in the UAE. I came in first at the Al Ain level and second at the national level.

"I was inspired with what Emirati artist Abdul Qader Edrees once said: 'If you want to be known internationally, start locally.'

"All of these famous artists started by representing their culture and traditions through their artwork and this is what I am doing."