42 Abu Dhabi is the first GCC campus of the internationally renowned 42 Network of coding schools Image Credit: supplied

Abu Dhabi: An innovative new coding school that offers tuition-free, peer-to-peer learning – 42 Abu Dhabi – opened in the capital today.

The facility in Mina Zayed was inaugurated by Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, who was accompanied by education and industry officials.

42 Abu Dhabi is the first GCC campus of the internationally renowned 42 Network of coding schools, which launched its inaugural campus in Paris in 2013. 42 Abu Dhabi has been established in partnership with Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) under the Ghadan 21 economy accelerator programme.

During the tour, the delegation witnessed 42 Abu Dhabi’s collaborative learning methods. They also met the school’s management and students of the programme’s inaugural cohort.

“As part of Abu Dhabi’s vision to foster a diverse, inclusive and world-leading education ecosystem, 42 Abu Dhabi represents a new milestone in our leadership’s strategy to nurture tomorrow’s leaders today. This pioneering new school will provide an additional educational platform to build digital skills and a homegrown, future-ready workforce equipped to lead the technology-driven economy of the 21st century,” Sheikh Khaled said.

42 Abu Dhabi’s tuition-free model is rooted in a peer-to-peer learning methodology that creates flexible learning pathways via a project-based, gamified approach. Open 24 hours a day, and offering its programmes free of charge, the school aims to cultivate creativity, collaboration and self-discipline by giving students ownership of their learning without classrooms or teachers.

The school has been given initial accreditation by the National Qualification Centre. To date, the 42 Network’s disruptive curriculum has equipped more than 12,000 students around the world with essential digital and business skills.

“42 Abu Dhabi reflects Abu Dhabi government’s commitment to developing a digitally aware and technology-driven generation of young professionals who are not only technically skilled, but are also pushing the boundaries of digital innovation. Our leadership provides unprecedented support to UAE youth by creating opportunities that nurture local talents and develop their capabilities to master future digital skills and meet the growing requirements of this domain. As a result, this paves the way to building a generation equipped with specialised knowledge and expertise, especially in the fields of digital transformation, digital economy, and entrepreneurship which top the UAE priorities as accelerators to the transition to sustainable knowledge-based economy,” said Hussain Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education.

“42 Abu Dhabi is critical to the strategic development of our region’s tech talent and Abu Dhabi’s mission to build a future-ready, human capital pipeline that will contribute to our leadership’s vision of a secure and confident society that is competitive, sustainable and open. Coding is no longer reserved for ICT specialists; it is a universal language we must all speak to navigate the convergence of technology across industries operating in the global digital economy,” said Sara Musallam, Adek chairwoman.

As part of the selection process for 42 Abu Dhabi’s inaugural cohort, 401 candidates took part in a trio of pre-selection ‘Piscines’ between May and August. A pool of 225 candidates successfully passed the 26-day immersive tests of motivation, endurance, and commitment, and joined 42 Abu Dhabi on September 26.

Emiratis comprise 43 per cent of the inaugural cohort. Of the Emirati candidates, 70 per cent are female. Expatriate student enrolment stands at 57 per cent. Almost all of the students – 93 per cent – are UAE residents.

Among the students, 60 per cent are men, and 40 per cent women. In addition, 81 per cent are aged between 18 and 30 years.

Officials said that 42 Abu Dhabi represents a new chapter in the UAE-France Strategic Dialogue, further strengthening the two nations’ bilateral cooperation and knowledge exchange across mutual areas of interest including culture, education, advanced sciences, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, medtech and agtech.

“42 Abu Dhabi embodies the ambitious and bold vision shared by our two nations. France and the UAE are determined to explore new opportunities of co-operation in many fields, none more important than education and new technologies. I am sure that 42 Abu Dhabi will deliver an innovative benchmark to further enhance our nations’ productive bilateral relations for years to come. I want to seize this opportunity to warmly thank ADEK for trusting the disruptive France-born 42 Network in order to build a new generation of UAE-based coders,” said Xavier Chatel, French Ambassador to the UAE.

Candidates interested in applying to 42 Abu Dhabi must be aged at least 18 years old. They require no previous coding experience. Enrolment requires registration, and an online pre-selection assessment that evaluates cognitive capacity via logic and memory tests. Successful pre-selection candidates are then invited to the ‘Piscine’, from which candidates will be invited to join the programme.