Twenty Emirati students from public high schools across the UAE were selected last summer for the Bidaya Scholarship, an academic scholarship that covers the full university tuition of outstanding UAE nationals.

Fifteen females and five males from all seven emirates made it to the final list. A total of 125 students were interviewed before the final decision was made. Those students are now specialising in various majors at the American University in Dubai (AUD), the American University of Sharjah (AUS) and the University of Sharjah.

Students chose dentistry, interior design, media, accounting, computer science, paediatrics and marketing.

Sultan Al Obeidly is now a first-year electrical engineering at AUS. While at the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Secondary School before graduation, he attended the road show that Bidaya held and learned more about the programme.

Bidaya not only offers students tuition and living cost coverage, but also leadership training and provides students with a qualified mentor who can guide them through choices at university, related to their future career.

"The programme is very unique. It has both an academic and a leadership programme, which helps you become more of a leader in society. We feel they are very interested in our cases and really motivate us to become better at what we study and do…. My average is 97 per cent. I got two recommendations from my professors, wrote a letter stating my goals in the future and applied," Sultan said.

Next thing he knows, he got accepted in the programme.

"I am very proud of myself. This gives me a reason to always be an outstanding student and be productive in society," he said.

Bidaya, Arabic for 'beginning', was established in April 2007 by Zabeel Investments and Nakheel, under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. Today, there are 40 students benefiting from this scholarship and there will be more in the coming years.

Applicants must be UAE nationals, high school graduates between 17 and 18 years old, with an average of 90 per cent and enrolled at a public school in the UAE. UAE national students interested in Bidaya scholarships can check out the website