The National Programme for Coders will provide 500 training opportunities to undergraduates in local, regional, and international companies in the UAE and abroad. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Some 20,000 students will learn coding at eight UAE universities under the new National Programme for Coders, it was announced on Wednesday. It comes in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to activate the role of national universities in supporting the talents of coding in the UAE.

The National Programme for Coders will provide 500 training opportunities to undergraduates in local, regional, and international companies in the UAE and abroad.

Participating universities

The list of participating national universities includes the Higher Colleges of Technology, Khalifa University, Zayed University, University of Dubai, Abu Dhabi University, Mohammad Bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence, American University in Dubai and the University of Sharjah.

Virtual libraries

The programme will also launch three digital libraries in collaboration with Amazon, Huawei, and IBM, to give undergraduates in the UAE the opportunity to learn how to use various programming applications and apply them practically, as well as to introduce them to the coding techniques and tools used in various sectors and markets.

These digital libraries provide important resources for undergraduates, enabling them to view various areas of specialised digital content and benefit from global experiences in coding-related technology such as artificial intelligence, data science, designing digital platforms, creating electronic applications, cloud computing services, 5th Generation technologies, and blockchain.

Coding as an edge

Noura Bint Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, who is President of Zayed University (ZU), said: “Coding has become a significant requirement for fresh graduates that may bolster a candidate’s employment opportunities. Through this strategic partnership, we will be able to equip ZU graduates and the youth in the UAE with the necessary skills that will provide with them a competitive edge in the employment market.”

Universities key partners

Omar Sultan Al Olama

Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said the support of national universities is key for achieving the objectives and outcomes of the National Programme for Coders.

He added that the launch of digital libraries in collaboration with Amazon, Huawei, and IBM represents a new step in activating the global public and private partnerships within the framework of the programme.

Coder clubs

The national universities participating in the programme for will launch special clubs for coders on their campuses, with the goal of refining their skills and providing them with the opportunity to participate in Hackathon competitions specialised in programming, both locally and globally. In the next phase, these universities will also organize several training workshops and academic lectures with top experts and specialists from the UAE and abroad.

Accelerating change

Dr Abdul Latif Al Shamsi

Dr Abdul Latif Al Shamsi, President and CEO of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), said the programme will accelerate local and global digital transformation, through utilising the creativity of young professionals and talents in the rapidly growing world of technology. Al Shamsi added that the HCT is fully prepared to participate in this programme, which supports the future of the UAE in terms of digital transformation and the development of necessary technological infrastructures and human competencies.

Priority areas

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice President at the Khalifa University of Science Technology, said: “Khalifa University seeks to participate in initiatives that aim to enhance the fundamentals of the UAE’s digital future, especially in the areas of aerospace, aviation, transportation, healthcare, economy, and research.”

He added: “Through our partnership with the National Programme for Coders, we aim to design and develop products and solutions related to the digital system on a larger scale, utilising the successful records of the university in organising events and activities specialized in coding.”

Attracting talent

Dr Humaid Majol Al Nuaimi

Dr Humaid Majol Al Nuaimi, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah, said the programme establishes a strong digital economy considering the rapid daily technological acceleration, and enhances the UAE’s global leading position in various future investment fields. He added that this programme supports national initiatives and futuristic strategies of the UAE, which aim to develop the capabilities of national talents, attract professionals with digital skills from around the world, and provide the necessary infrastructure to establish and expand the number of innovation-based companies.

‘Cradle for coders’

Professor Eric Xing

Professor Eric Xing, President at Mohammad Bin Zayed University of AI, said: “As the first graduate research AI university, MBZUAI is committed to become a major cradle for generating elite coders, and a hub for entrepreneurships where they can thrive and further grow and amplify. We are excited about the vision laid by [Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid] to boost the economy with coders as the digital drive, and we are confident that MBZUAI will contribute to this vision by being an AI powerhouse that attracts and nurtures the best talents in computer programming.”

Fostering innovation

Dr Ali Saeed Bin Harmal Al Dhaheri

Dr Ali Saeed Bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, Chairman of the Board of Abu Dhabi University, said the programme embodies the leadership’s vision for the future and translates this vision to nurture talents and specialised cadres of coders around the world, which opens future prospects for them to contribute to the national and global economy and keep up with scientific and applied developments in the digital age and its future ambitions.

He also pointed out the role of the Innovation Centre at Abu Dhabi University, which he said works to promote a culture of creativity and innovation among students, faculty, and administrative staff at the university, and provides support for innovative projects.

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Redesigning curricula

Dr David A. Schmidt

Dr David A. Schmidt, President of The American University in Dubai (AUD), said: “The American University is honoured to develop a partnership with [the programme]. AUD signed an [agreement] with the Artificial Intelligence Office to support the strategic goals of this important initiative and implement related projects.

"Planned collaborative activities include specialised courses and workshops in coding, reshaping our curricula for the digital economy, and directing our students to establish start-ups in the AI and Data Science fields.”

Building software

Dr Eesa Al Bastaki

Dr Eesa Al Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai, said: “Dubai University will employ its technical programmes in information security, artificial intelligence, and data science to support the realisation of the leadership’s vision of making the UAE one of the best countries in the world in various technological fields.

"Our university will continue its leadership in professional training in coding and software, offering global professional qualifications in coding, and building high-quality software capabilities in cooperation with its partners.”