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Saudi expat Ahmed Tarabulsi, 17, faced challenges head-on while studying in Dubai even after his mother passed away Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Defying odds, a Year 12 student excelled in the 2023 General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams, following the recent release of test results, giving his family a reason to celebrate.

Saudi expat Ahmed Tarabulsi, 17, faced challenges head-on while studying at GEMS Wellington International School.

Despite his mother’s recent passing, and previous grade dips in Year 10 due to a family move to the UAE, his unwavering determination led to success across all IGCSE subjects.

The 17-year-old had just moved to the UAE with his family when he was studying in Grade 10. The change in his life’s circumstance, left him with little focus towards his studies. Added to that, tragically, Tarabulsi lost his mother when he was studying in Year 11.


But his grit and determination ensured he bounced back to pass his GCSE in all subjects.

“My parents have been an inspiration. Losing my mother was not easy. But when I saw my father struggling with my mother’s loss and dealing with all this, I wanted to become a responsible son.”

Beside Ahmed’s grades being low, he faced difficulties in school with his behaviour.

Nevertheless, he made a huge transformation. His attitude and approach to school and learning changed. Ahmed has set a target for himself: devote three hours daily to school work — for three months.

It changed his life and his attitude towards academics. He went on to achieve 3 x Cs, 3 x 7s, 3 x 6s, and 1 x 5 – passing all subjects.


In an interview to Gulf News, Ahmed said: “The last three months, I worked two to three hours every day. I focussed and put my mind into achieving good scores.”

“I focussed on my future. I knew I have to do well. My father and sister were also dealing with the loss. I had to also deal with it in a mature manner.”

Speaking of his dad Mohamed, Ahmed said he has found a friend in him.

“My father is also my friend. He does much and takes care of my sister Leena and my other half-siblings. He is juggling so many things. So I put myself together and my focus on my studies.”

Ahmed said he wants to pursue Law: “That is the plan.”

He added: “I have a message for all students who are not enjoying the best of grades in their Year 10 exams. I took my Year 10 lightly. I messed around. But I got back on track.

“That is very important. Students can always make it up and ace their exams with a little hard work which is what I did.”

Ahmed said all it took for him was to study three hours every day for three months.

“Now I know if I study harder for a longer period, I can score even better.”