Abu Dhabi: The Fulbright Scholarship on Wednesday announced it had opened applications for Emirati graduates looking to enter the prestigious programme for the academic years from 2019 to 2021.
Established in 1946 by US senator J. William Fulbright, the scholarship aims to promote the exchange of students in the areas of education and culture. Successful candidates who are selected for the programme are given the opportunity to pursue their post-graduate studies at any American university of their choosing, with tuition fees and daily living expenses all paid for.
The applications in the UAE are open to Emirati nationals only, with the deadline for submissions being May 10, after which the prospective candidates would be interviewed by a representative of the US embassy.
“The Fulbright Scholarship is the US Department of State’s flagship scholarship, it is one of the most prestigious and prominent scholarships offered to nationals of the Middle East,” said Rula Dajani, UAE country director of AMIDEAST, the organisation that manages the Fulbright Scholarship in the UAE, during a media roundtable.
“We have had 300,000 students benefiting from the programme, these students come from 140 countries, out of which we have 43 Nobel prize winners… and 18 heads of state,” she added, highlighting the programme’s capability to shape personalities of international repute.
“In the GCC countries, there are around 300 [Fulbright graduates]… In the UAE we have had 13 graduates since 2006, with five new potential graduates that are going to be leaving this coming year for the 2018-2020 [academic cycle],” she said.
Dajani said the organisation wants to increase the number of Emiratis applying for the programme, and that raising awareness about the scholarship was one of its main priorities.
“We [are planning to] launch a full-scale outreach plan that includes all universities in the UAE, focusing off course on public universities because we really want to encourage Emiratis to apply for this scholarship.
“This year we will be focusing on governmental entities such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Youth because we really want to establish [and attract] some potential researchers or students coming out of those ministries… [and] would like to pursue their graduate studies in the US for two years,” she added.
Dajani said that successful candidates are selected based on a number of factors and traits not only limited to academic standing, but also on qualities like leadership skills and the motivation to serve their country.
“Basically any Fulbrighter who gets approved to go the US will be like an ambassador of the UAE, explaining more about the country to enhance cultural exchanges between the two countries,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nadia Ziyadeh, media officer at the US Embassy Abu Dhabi, was keen to emphasise that universities in the US continued to be open and welcoming for Emirati students,
“There are more than 4,000 universities in the US [and] they’re all open and welcoming, they’re happy to receive any students from anywhere — especially Emirati students and the diversity and the cosmopolitan point of view that they bring to American campuses.
“There is a place for everyone as we have said before many times... We would like to see people pursuing their passions, [and] pursuing their interests so that they can come back to the UAE and apply that knowledge and that higher education for the development of the country,” she added.