Abu Dhabi: The UAE Rhodes Scholarship (RSUAE) programme will receive permanent funding thanks to the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, with the announcement made in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday with the RSUAE currently awarding two scholarships every year to prospective applicants in the UAE to complete their degree at Oxford University.

The permanent endowment by the foundation comes as another major milestone for the UAE’s higher education sector, with the Rhodes Scholarship recognised globally as one of the most prestigious and sought after scholarships.

Shaikha Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Founder of the Salama Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, said the grant would create life-changing opportunities for young people in the UAE.

“As a benefactor of the RSUAE, we are committed to raising awareness of the programme and actively encouraging students from across the UAE to apply. Through the scholarship, we hope the foundation can provide access to life changing international social and educational experiences to promising young people in and from the UAE, and to further support the development of socially responsible and ethical young leaders.”

Shamma Al Mazroui, Minister of State for Youth, and the first Emirati Rhodes Scholar, spoke of her own experience in the Rhodes Scholarship Programme and how it changed her life.

“My own Rhodes journey changed my life. When I heard about this event and partnership I was going through my photos and time at Oxford and saw a series of lessons,” she said.

“For me Oxford is a place of breakthroughs [and] new ideas. People pursue excellence in everything they do, [it is a] melting pot of the world’s greatest minds… Oxford was an incubator designed to take me out of the world for one year and incubate me in every way before returning me back to the world different from when I entered.

“I was the only Emirati in the class of Rhodes Scholars, and maybe the only student in my class wearing a headscarf. It was an opportunity for my Rhode Scholar peers to learn from me what it means to be an Arab, a Muslim Emirati female, and see the true tenets of Islam,” she added.

Al Mazroui said that future UAE Rhode Scholars would serve the UAE and continue to help make the country the best it can be at everything.

“Today in the UAE we are investing in youth across every field of work, to be the best economists, to be the best nuclear engineers, biologists, writers, [and] policy makers. We are taking the first step in creating a community of Rhodes Scholars in the UAE who will give back in the fields they pursue.

“This investment will empower global education that will be a bedrock to the UAE. What is more beautiful than investing in people, what is more powerful than maximising opportunity to actualise people’s character and potential,” she said.

About the Rhodes Scholarship

The Rhodes Scholarship was established in 1903, granting scholarships to exceptional students to complete their postgraduate studies at Oxford University. Admissions are highly selective and limited with only 0.7 per cent of applicants being accepted.