One hundred-twenty students from the UAE and other GCC countries participated in the Fourth Student Gathering 'Ghars' programme, a 10-day programme inspired by 'Zayed's Vision'.
Students feel this year is different from previous ones due to the different learning experiences they have gained through seminars held by numerous ministers and role models nationwide. They also claim there are more workshops and programmes to learn from in this year's programme.
Zayed's Vision involves qualities which can be acquired through knowledge and perseverance and is mostly concerned with encouraging students to follow the vision of the late leader and founder, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who always encouraged patience, perseverance, determination and ability to see the future. He was concerned with enhancing the educational level of UAE citizens and encouraged ongoing knowledge.
General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and President of the Abu Dhabi Education Council, urged students at Ghars to strive to serve their nation. He said it is a duty to reciprocate for a country that has provided for its citizens and expatriates, happy and comfortable lives. "Faith and hard work shorten a period and achieving glory for a nation begins with the building of a human being," he said.
Participating students speak
Each year participating students at the Ghars event are selected through a voting process, a Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Secretary General and Rapporteur. Notes speaks with some of the students who received the largest number of votes and asks them about their achievements.
Ebrahim Ali Al Hosani, 19, Chairman of Ghars Student Council, is in his final year in Ahmad Bin Hanbal School, Sharjah. He says he has participated in Ghars for the last three years and has learnt new things each year.
"From my experience in the past three years at Ghars anything students request is met by officials. Ghars comprises students from all over the UAE, but once we meet each year we are all one nation under Ghars," said Al Hosani.
Al Hosani said he won the most votes in the 2008 Ghars event because he gained knowhow from previous Chairmen.
"Many of my friends were elected in previous years and one of my very close friends, whom I consider a brother, was once a chairman, so I learnt a lot from him. Over the years Ghars gave me a lot of confidence, courage, communication skills and ambition."
His ambitions and role models
Al Hosani wants to become a police officer or a construction engineer. He has a lot of role models, one of whom is Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, Minister of Labour, whom Al Hosani claims was an average person who succeeded through hard work and devotion.
Other role models for Al Hosani are Shaikh Zayed and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. "What I love about both of them is their seriousness and concern about benefiting society, generosity and intelligence."
The female deputy chairman
Asmahan Khalfan Al Wally, 18, Bahathat El Badya School, is the Female Deputy Chairman and represents more than 30 women in Ghars.
She knew she would win votes for 2008 because of her hard work.
"This is my second time participating in Ghars. I love it because we listen to other students' suggestions and convey the message to decision-makers, who try their best to fulfil our needs. One of last year's requests, which was to visit various ministries and have different leaders and government officials give us seminars and workshops to teach us how they reached their key positions, is now being met in this year's Ghars programme," said Al Wally.
Al Wally told Notes that her dream job is to become a presenter in the media and help other people through her experience and contacts; she also wants to represent UAE women and have interviews with public figures.
She feels participating in Ghars and being a Deputy Chairman has increased her confidence and devotion to learn more. As a child, she worked as a presenter for children on Sharjah TV.
"Our father, the late Shaikh Zayed, always concentrated on education and on encouraging youngsters to improve themselves and make a difference in society, and I feel his vision is being met by us today," said Al Wally.
Her role model is also the Dubai Ruler. "I admire Shaikh Mohammad for his devotion to complete various projects in the same time. He doesn't look at now, he thinks of the future and how the UAE will benefit. He loves modernisation and thanks to him he encourages young people like me to want to learn more and help develop the UAE too."
More leaders speak
Ali Abdul Rahem Al Hosani, 17, Al Wahda Private School, Sharjah, is the Male Deputy Chairman. It's his third time in Ghars.
"I was voted Deputy Chairman because I promised that I will voice whatever students want to communicate to higher officials. Thank God, they trusted me and now I am trying my best to fulfil their needs," said Al Hosani.
Like his father, Abdul Raheem Al Hosani, Ali would like to become an officer. His second choice would be managing a media company. "Media is a teaching school, you don't stop learning, and I like that."
His role model is Shaikh Mohammad, because of his commitment to the UAE and hard work. His second role model is his own father.
"We students feel, touch and smell Zayed's Vision. We live it everyday. He left men behind him and we will not fail him. He cared a lot about the future of the female citizens, and I can never deny the fact that UAE women are very important in decision-making, which was one of his main concerns as well," said Al Hosani.
Ayda Rous, Secretary General, 17, Hamdan Bin Mohammad School, Abu Dhabi, wants to become an officer like other members in his family.
"I see my cousins and uncles are very successful in that field and would like to follow in their steps. My second option would be to work as a presenter in the media because it is a beneficial job. My third option would be a professional football player, but I feel he is too old for that now, since they normally take football players from the age of 13 and above," said Rous.
His role models are General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, Dr Haneef Hassan, Minister of Education, and Ali Al Ka'abi, Minister of Labour. "Shaikh Mohammad has a strong personality and has a vision.
He cares about everything humane, including birds. He has a kind heart and I like that about him. As for Dr Hassan, I was one of the first students to meet him and he knows me by name. He seems to be a very interesting man and I heard him speaking many times and admire his charisma. Al Ka'abi is down-to-earth and helps us students a lot. He recommended that we read a number of books to learn from."
Rous feels that Ghars has made his personality stronger and he looks forward to gaining more votes next year. He feels Zayed's Vision is being met by students nowadays and explained that the late President of the UAE is an inspiration for all UAE students.
Khaled Humaid Al Mazrouie, 18, Khalifa Bin Zayed School, Al Ain, is participating in Ghars for the second time and is a rapporteur.
He finds this year's Ghars programme different from last year's since there is better organisation, planning, administration and conferences and workshops to learn from. He specifically learnt from the finance and inspection related workshops.
Al Mazrouie became rapporteur after winning 42 votes. He is mainly concerned with helping students achieve what they want. "Some students wanted football sports on play station games and I am trying to manage to get this for them at the Officers Club. I am also focusing on communicating with other students. We meet outdoors in the Officers Club and talk about different topics."
He would like to be a Government Minister when he grows up. His role model is General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, because of his strong influence on students, his support and care for them.
"His Highness Shaikh Mohammad is behind the Ghars programme. That for me is enough to idealise him. Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior is also one of my role models due to his strong, charismatic nature and confidence."