Among the new graduates of Heriot-Watt University Dubai was the first batch to graduate in the university's Built Environment and Business Management programme. Amelia Naidoo was at the graduation.

As 115 Heriot-Watt University Dubai students received their degrees, it marked the first batch of students to graduate from its undergraduate programmes in Built Environment and Business Management. It was, however, the third ceremony for graduates from its masters courses.

Bright futures

"I feel on top of the world," said Qasim Zubair, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Accountancy and Finance.

"It's a great feeling that after all my hard work and dedication I have received my degree and have made my parents very proud," he added.

Zubair was the first Dubai campus student to win the University Blues Award for his dedication and commitment to cricket. "Receiving recognition for my sporting achievement means a lot to me," he said.

Suzanne Chinner, a BSc in Quantity Surveying graduate, said: "I am so happy to have graduated. I feel that I have the world at my feet! My whole class has worked so hard and now we have all finally graduated."

Chinner said her time at university had been a "great experience" and that one of the highlights was meeting people from various cultures.

"I feel that my degree will open huge doors for me and I look forward to continuing my education and studying for my masters in the future," she said.

The ceremony

The graduation drew more than 500 students, friends, family and academic staff who together celebrated the talent, commitment and academic achievement of the students.

Professor Anton Muscatelli, principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, presided over the event.

Muscatelli said the new graduates ranked highly against their counterparts in Scotland, illustrating the quality and dedication of the Dubai branch of the institution.

He said the examination boards praised the Dubai campus, noting that students in certain disciplines gained higher average marks than students on the Scottish campus. Prizes were also presented for sporting achievements, through the esteemed Blues Medal, which was the first to be awarded to a Dubai campus graduate, and for academic excellence, through the Eric Gibb and University Prizes.

'Brightest and best'

Muscatelli said the university's professionally relevant degree programmes would help ensure Dubai has homegrown skills in key industries, allowing the economy to develop and grow. "We are delighted to celebrate the success and academic achievement of our dedicated students, who are amongst the brightest and best in the region," he said.

"Through our world-class research, our close links with industry, business and the professions, and our emphasis on the skills that graduates need, we ensure the currency of our courses so that our graduates are well equipped to go out and meet all of the opportunities and challenges that define modern employment."

Professor Brian Smart, deputy principal, executive dean and head of the Dubai campus, said: "At Heriot-Watt we are focused on delivering programmes relevant to the needs of this rapidly-developing region in order to ensure that the appropriate knowledge and skills are readily available in the Middle East.

"Our strategy is clearly aligned with the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015, launched in 2007 by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai."

Heriot-Watt was the first international university to open its doors in Dubai International Academic City in 2005, and is said to be Scotland's most international academic institution, with one third of its students on campus in Scotland being from outside the UK.

Prize winners

Eric Gibb Prize
- Bonny Joseph Dias (first year)
- Saeed Mohammad Wazed (second year)

Outstanding merit in the first year
- Sai Kiran Hemanth Avvas, Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
- Waqas Khan, BBA

Outstanding merit in the second year
- Mohammad Omair Fazal Khan, BBA
- Rujoom Qamar, BA in Accountancy and Finance
- Mohammad Hassan Shariq, Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering

Outstanding merit in the third year
- Kaushali Shroff, BBA
- Saira Tariq, BA in Accountancy and Finance

Sports Union Blues Winner for 2008
- Qasim Zubair, Bachelor of Arts in Accountancy and Finance for cricket