EDUCATING THE EMIRATES

Dubai 2016 | EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Prof. Muthanna G. Abdul Razzaq, President & CEO of American University in the Emirates, on the Dubai job market, graduating responsible citizens, and the security of education.

 Prof. Muthanna G. Abdul Razzaq
BIOGRAPHY
Prof. Muthanna G. Abdul Razzaq completed his bachelor’s in business administration and accounting in 1976 from Al Mustansirya University and received his PhD in management accounting from the University of Manchester Institute and Technology in 1988. His passion for educational excellence in the UAE motivated him to propose and establish Abu Dhabi University (ADU) in 2000 as a founder and one of the owners and consistently and diligently for five years he continued his academic journey at Abu Dhabi University. A selfless initiator, Razzaq has a broad vision and is dedicated to spending his life for the cause of education and educational reforms.

What new courses is the American University in the Emirates (AUE) launching this year?

We are going to launch a bachelor's degree in education with a specialization in technology, supervision and administration, psychology, and counseling. We do not want to graduate teachers from the college of education; we will leave this to other universities, and we do not want to compete with any of them so we decided to target logistics as we need a lot of para professionals to realize the vision of UAE pertaining to educational sector. While we have currently unique programs in sports management, sports law, natural disaster management, emergency management, and security strategic studies, we are applying for more programs that are unique and demanded to meet the skills gaps in the region.

Which of AUE's programs will allow students to compete more successfully in Dubai's job market in the run up to Expo 2020?

Our programs have been designed to meet market demands and will serve the need of Expo 2020 very well. At the same time we are focusing on soft skills training to graduate leader who are more employable in the market. We recently conducted a training program in collaboration with the Institute of Sports Sciences in Germany and invited an expert on sports tourism from George Washington University. For Expo 2020 you need people to be graduated in event management; therefore, we are working on equipping people with the relevant and necessary skills. In AUE we believe that we need to graduate leaders, not just manpower. There are three steps to be taken in order to create a leader. First, they should have knowledge acquired through books and theory. Secondly, they should have up-to-date industrial experience and skills. And the final step is soft skills, which really make the difference and let our graduates stand out from the crowd. In order to be a leader, you need solid knowledge and experience and should be creative, have initiative, critical thinking, and negotiation skills, as well as the ability to make decisions during a crisis and work as a team. If we combine these three dimensions in one person, he or she will be a leader in the future. We want to graduate global minded leaders, and hence we stress on cross cultural sensitivity that ultimately leads to tolerance and peace and this is our real contribution to the market.

In what other areas is the university focusing its resources?

The university should focus on many areas, including its focus on social responsibilities. We want our graduates to be responsible citizens, and hence our continual focus is also on delivering community services. We organized cancer awareness campaigns and events about speed and road safety to achieve the goal of a happier society, as we strongly believe that we have a big responsibility that goes beyond teaching or research.

What impact will the newly establish cabinet have on the education sector?

Our leaders consider everything as a challenge, but they also believe that nothing is impossible. If you believe that nothing is impossible and you encourage people, they will think in the same way. There are many expats in this country that could help nationals with new ideas and experience from other countries. We should be flexible enough to learn from others and learn from their mistakes. This is very important, and I am sure that the new cabinet will help further develop the education sector and our human resources. Education is very important and there will be a significant impact on growth and on graduate leaders.

What are your priorities for 2016?

We need to continue assuring that this and other countries are secure. The university should contribute in this area, so we are thinking of creating a peace center to generate new ideas and solutions. We are further supporting security in the country through our courses in security, emergency, and disaster management, and also a future program in intelligence.