Video Credit: Gulf News

Last August, more than 3,700 high school students arrived with their parents to meet dozens of senior university representatives at the Gulf News Edufair. The three-day event, held at the Shangri-La Hotel on Shaikh Zayed Road in Dubai from August 12-14, 2021, marked a welcome return to an in-person format, with Edufair 2020 having been hosted as a virtual platform.

A free to attend event, Edufair 2021 saw officials from the country’s leading universities answering questions and engaging in important conversations with potential students – and their families – around joining in September or beyond.

The large turnout to Edufair 2021 was partly thanks to the UAE’s successful vaccination drive, which, at that point, had seen around 70 per cent of residents fully vaccinated. This, coupled with UAE universities offering in-person, virtual and blended education modes ahead of much of the rest of the world, saw unprecedented interest in the country as a higher education destination.

The event also emphasized new skillsets needed for a post-pandemic world of work, and part of Edufair’s appeal was the event’s one-stop nature – university admission officers were on hand to discuss requirements for getting in, tuition discounts, scholarships, campus life and student clubs. Meanwhile, faculty members were present, answering students’ academic questions, potential career avenues and specific programmes on offer.

Gulf News Edufair
Gulf News Edufair welcomed 3,700 visitors in 2021 Image Credit: Gulf News

The diversity of the UAE’s education sector was showcased too, with the country home to branch campuses of prestigious institutions from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and India, among others.

Beyond specific universities and programmes, Edufair 2021 also brought together a broad range of thought leaders to deliver workshops and seminars covering crucial trends relevant to both the job market and the higher education sector. These included everything from building a personal brand on LinkedIn while at university; choosing the right degree for you; offbeat career paths in fast-rising industries; building and tapping into networks while studying; and closing the skills gap between education and industry to boost employability in an unpredictable time.

Speaking at the event, Abdul Hamid Ahmed, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, and Executive Director Publications, Gulf News, said, “The considerable choices that were on offer for students and their parents to evaluate in one place meant that what would have otherwise taken weeks and probably months to discover, study and understand was encapsulated in three days of high-quality exposure.”

The large numbers of attendees and participants were an encouraging sign for the UAE’s events and education sectors, both of which had endured a turbulent 2020.

“The success and demand seen at the event is testament to the fact that the UAE has fast become a higher education hub with its top-notch facilities, wide spectrum of international and UAE institutions, while offering a safe and secure environment for students to pursue their dreams,” added Ahmed.

Anshuman Joshi, Director – Sales and Marketing at Gulf News, said Edufair’s success was a welcome sign for the events industry ahead of the fourth quarter of the year – a period in which a generational global mega-event, Expo 2020, proved a roaring success for Dubai.

Gulf News Edufair
Gulf News Edufair brought together a broad range of thought leaders to deliver workshops and seminars Image Credit: Supplied

For the UAE’s rapidly expanding education sector, EduFair showcased the agility of the country’s universities to adapt to the complex, ever-changing challenges confronting both students and parents in the wake of the global pandemic, explained Joshi.

“Considering the massive strides universities in the UAE have made in increasing both the quantity and quality of their academic output, we believe an growing number of undergraduates will prefer studying here than abroad,” he told Gulf News last year. 

The debut onsite edition of the landmark event saw active participation from leading higher education providers in the UAE: Gulf Medical University; GBS Dubai; Amity University Dubai; Middlesex University Dubai; Heriot Watt University Dubai; RIT Dubai; Westford University College; Manipal University Dubai; University of Birmingham Dubai; BITS Pilani Dubai; Canadian University Dubai; Curtin University Dubai; Cromwell UK Education; De Montfort University Dubai; University of Bolton, Ras Al Khaimah; London American City College; Scoreplus; and the British Council.

A number of strategic partners also played a crucial role in Edufair 2021’s success. The 2021 edition’s Platinum Sponsor was UAE University; Styling Partner was SHEIN; Career-ready Partner was Y-Axis; Counselling Partner was EdOrbis; Radio Partners were Fun Asia and Radio Asia; Supporting Partner was Bukhatir Education Advancement and Management International; Technology Partner was Dell; Sustainability Partner was WSBF; Gifts Partner was Mumuso; Dairy Partner was Nurtidor; and Supporting Partners were GotoUniversity and Brighter Prep.