From left: Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Thomas E. Thomason, Dr. Hassan B. Diab, Maysa Jalbout and Dr. Tod A. Laursen at Zayed University Academic City in Dubai. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: A Dubai-based foundation will distribute scholarships worth Dh4.2 billion to needy Arab students, it was announced on Wednesday.

A programme for high-achieving youth was announced by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, a non-profit entity launched last year in July.

During the launch, businessman and founder Abdullah Ahmad Al Ghurair had donated a third of his assets to the education foundation which seeks to improve the quality of education and help thousands of promising Arab youth from underprivileged backgrounds.

On Wednesday, the foundation said it will use Dh4.2 billion, donated by its founder, to cover university costs of 15,000 students from across the Arab world, including Emiratis, over the next 10 years.

It will also support 5,000 high-achieving grade 11 and 12 Emirati students at public schools who wish to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The scholarship programme was launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at Zayed University in Dubai.

The Al Ghurair STEM Scholars Programme currently covers only undergraduate and graduate studies. Students can apply for the programme on the foundation’s website (www.alghurairfoundation.org) starting from Wednesday to May 30 for admission in September.

“The programme is focused on providing Arab students as well as Emirati students to go to top universities to study STEM subjects,” Maysa Jalbout, chief executive of the foundation, told Gulf News.

The foundation signed agreements with the American University of Sharjah, the American University of Cairo , Khalifa University and the American University in Cairo, allowing students enrolled into the scholarship programme to study at these institutions.

The foundation hopes to sign agreements with universities from the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia in the future, according to Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education Board of Trustees.

To be eligible for the programme, students will need to be no more than 30 years of age and have a grade point average (GPA) of at least 85 per cent from high school or a minimum of 3.0 from university, according to Jalbout.

They will need to be “outstanding students…pass the interview test…and prove to us that [they] are in financial need,” Al Ghurair added.

Depending on the financial needs of the students, the programme can cover other costs besides the full tuition fees, such as accommodation.

“For each student, depending on their need and the cost of the education at the university they’re going to and the place they’re staying at, we’d be covering things like tuition and helping them with skills development, job placements and volunteering, to build their CVs so they become competitive when they graduate,” Jalbout said.

“Abdullah Al Ghurair has dedicated a very generous amount of money because he believes in the opportunity that the UAE has given him and his family and wants to give back to this country and the region as a way to encourage other students to also give back to their community and the region,” she said.

The foundation also launched on Wednesday the Al Ghurair Young Thinkers Programme, which is aimed at increasing the number of Emirati college-ready students through up-skilling programmes in English, mathematics, science and innovation, and the Al Ghurair Open Learning Scholars Programme, which is designed to increase students’ access to high-quality education through online and blended learning degrees and programmes offered by universities worldwide.

Both programmes are already available on the foundation’s website.