The "hopes, concerns and attitudes" of UAE national women were brought into focus recently at a workshop titled Women in UAE held at the American University of Sharjah.

Around 200 people attended the workshop, which was based on the findings of a study conducted by students of AUS in collaboration with the University of Michigan and the Pan-Arab Research Centre.

Professor Nada Mourtada-Sabbah was the moderator. She described the research as a "quantitative survey to better understand the hopes, concerns and attitudes of Emarati women".

Mark Tessler, vice-provost of the University of Michigan, was also present.

Student input

The international studies students, who conducted the survey shared their experience about working on the project.

They described how after heated discussions they decided on the objective of the research, the questions to be asked and how to go about conducting the research. The project, which has since developed into a course named INS 290
Research Practicum, began with designing a questionnaire in English and then translating it into Arabic.

The students then interviewed 386 students from AUS, University of Sharjah and the Higher Colleges of Technology.

The students said they had embarked on this project not just as an academic requirement. Sara Al Khalufi, one of the six student speakers, said: "This project we believe is not only a research survey but hopefully an initiative that will give way to
further extensive research, surveys, accurate data, and new approaches to policy-making."

Zayed University opens to expatriates Zayed University will open the Zayed International College at the Dubai Knowledge Village this September to expatriate students. Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and President of Zayed University, approved the launch of ZU's new project.

"The project indicates the efficiency and capability of Zayed University as an international university that can cope with
the challenges of the 21st century," said Dr Sulaiman Al Jasem, Director of Zayed University. Academic advantages Dr Al Jasem said that studying at this university has many academic advantages including its good academic atmosphere, which encourages excellence and good communication among students.

He also added that the university will conduct international lectures, research, surveys and studies, and it will include a
special research centre.

University programmes It is offering bachelor degrees in information systems and information technology management.

And it will provide courses in Arabic and Islamic culture, international affairs, international economics and other courses.


In the first batch, 200 students will be admitted. Female students who wish to study separately from male students
can join the university's main campus in Academic City.

When and where to apply? Applications should be sent to Zayed University's main campus in Academic City. The application procedures will start by mid-April.

What the study found The research findings were publicised by Jihad Fakhr Al Deen from the Pan Arab Research Centre and Dr Tim Walters of Zayed University. Fakhr Al Deen made some interesting observations in his presentation. n 40 per cent of respondents were concerned about not achieving their goals whereas just per cent were concerned about their marriage failing.

  • Right after graduation, 65 per cent of students wanted to work while just 6 per cent wanted to start a family.
  • Also, the average age of marriage of the respondents' mothers was 18.4 whereas that of the interviewees had risen to 23.5.
  • 53 per cent of the students considered their parents as their role model. This was supported by the statistics that 27 per cent of the students' mothers and 40 per cent of the students' fathers had either completed university or were postgraduates.
  • 20 per cent of the students wanted to give their children family security whereas only 2 per cent wanted them to have freedom.
  • 26 per cent of the students thought that a good college GPA (grade point average) was the most important factor in finding a job and 24 per cent thought "wasta" or good contacts were important.

Dr Tim Walters summarised the findings and said that
women required role models who had successfully balanced their work, jobs and family life.

The modern UAE woman describes herself as independent, ambitious and connected to the world through the media.

Also her priorities have changed in the past 20 years.

Although an overwhelming number of women want to marry, marriage is no longer the main priority. He concluded by
observing that universities and colleges need to develop better support systems for both students and alumnae.

The writer is a student of the American University of Sharjah