Abu Dhabi: Some 24 talented high-achieving undergraduate students have been welcomed by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) into its seventh edition of the eight-month intensive programme for the 2014-2015 academic year.

The Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Scholars Programme, which was established in 2008 by NYUAD in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, trains scholars in critical thinking, writing, public speaking and leadership.

The programme is offered to selected students from the UAE’s federal universities, including UAE University (UAEU), Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), and Zayed University (ZU).

“The programme instils an appetite for lifelong learning. I congratulate these students, who will no doubt continue in the footsteps of past scholars who have succeeded in their higher education and excelled in an increasingly globalised and competitive environment. These scholars represent the leaders and innovators of the future,’ Shaikha Mariam Bint Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chair of the programmes committee, said.

This year’s edition witnessed an increased number of students compared to the previous class, which had around 19 undergraduate students.

The eight-month programme is open to students in their third and fourth year of their bachelor’s study.

Elyas Wahid Al Zarouni, a 20-year-old senior student at HCT, was chosen to be part of the Shaikh Mohammad Scholars Programme based on his demonstrated intellectual curiosity, creativity, intelligence and leadership capability.

“I am now in my fourth year at HCT majoring in banking and finance. My university informed me that based on conducted interviews and group exercises, I was nominated to be part of this programme. My GPA is above 3.0 and I have participated in many activities at my university, mainly to improve my public speaking and leadership skills,” Al Zarouni told Gulf News.

When asked about his feelings after being an eligible applicant for the Shaikh Mohammad programme, he said: “I welcome any sort of change that gives me more understanding about other people’s culture and I am looking forward to the 10-day trip to New York and Washington, DC, where we will be visiting major historical and cultural attractions, meet international leaders, and visit important government locations such as the Supreme Court, Congress, and the White House.”

This programme is one of two significant programme operated by NYUAD. The other is the NYUAD Summer Academy for recipients of the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Scholarships for Outstanding High School Students, which is open to Abu Dhabi-based high school pupils entering their 11th year.

“Being part of this programme shaped my intellectual skills: I think better, I write better, and I manage my time better. It gave me exactly what I was looking for — inspiration, good memories and revolutionary thoughts,” Sarah Al Shehi, class of 2011-2012, said.