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UAE 2018 | ABU DHABI | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Professor Farouk Hamada, Chancellor of Mohammed V University, on the origins of the institution, maintaining international standards, and goals for the future.

Professor Farouk Hamada
BIOGRAPHY
Professor Farouk Hamada is the Chancellor of Mohammed V University. He has been an advisor in the office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zaid Al Nahyan since 2008. He received his master's and doctoral degrees in Islamic sciences. His university teaching career spanned from 1976 until 2009 and he has authored more than 50 books. In 2017, he was the recipient of a prestigious international award for connecting civilizations and dialoged cultures.

What are the origins of Mohammed V University?

At the time of the inception of the university, UAE students were studying at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco, which is known for being one of the world's most outstanding universities in Islamic studies. However, in line with an emphasis on developing local knowledge and talent in primary, secondary, and, of course, tertiary education, the Abu Dhabi government decided to open a branch of this university in Abu Dhabi to enable national students to continue their studies in their home country, and to enrich the community here. With the opening of a satellite university comes both advantages and challenges. On the one hand, it is vital that we maintain global standards of excellence—not only corresponding to the levels put in place by our colleagues in Rabat, but also worldwide—as well as staying on top of the latest educational developments more generally. On the other hand, we are privileged to be able to mine the deep experience of our colleagues in Mohammed V University Rabat, harnessing the benefits brought by their rich personnel and infrastructure capacity. The leadership of Abu Dhabi gives full attention and support to secondary and tertiary education in order to reach global standards.

How does Mohammed V University seek to maintain the international standards of its faculty and student body?

Mohammed V University has set up a system to recruit talent and faculty members, enforcing global standard requirements in terms of qualifications and skill sets. On the one hand, prospective teachers are subject to a rigorous selection process overviewed by a specialist scientific committee that collects information from previous workplaces and trains the selected professors to further develop their capacities and make sure they pass the probationary period of one semester to be fully enrolled. On the other hand, Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi seeks to attract good students relying on their eagerness to continue their education in Islamic studies or Arabic literature. And all said, the numbers speak for themselves. The employment rate among Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi's graduates has reached 98%. This result was obtained through specialized research, extensive career counseling, benchmark assessments based on the labor market, a mandatory 100-hour-internship course, and employment agreements with professional parties. There is a strong demand for Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi's graduates as the number of jobs required in the labor market exceeds the number of graduate students. This demand is expected to remain at least for the next decade.

Can you walk us through the curriculum of Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi and how the institution positions itself with regards to the educational push from government?

Islamic education plays a fundamental role in in Abu Dhabi's educational priorities as the Emirate seeks to convey Islam's accurate message of moderation, tolerance, and openness to world cultures with humanitarian values. Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi thus offers two knowledge fields: Islamic studies and Arabic literature. Both disciplines are presented through modern and general knowledge to contribute to sustainable social development activities. And all of this is carried out in accordance with international standards. Of course, we face the challenge of students being attracted to more traditional programs such as business administration, human resources, media studies, and law. However, I believe that higher education in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will achieve a great leap in the coming years due to the serious and promising future planning based on best practices, along with the availability of human and financial capabilities. Finally, we have implemented a plan for Emiratization in cooperation with the Emiratization Authority in Abu Dhabi for the 2016-2020 period. In this regard, we have reached a high standard and are continuing on our path to full Emiratization within the next decade.

What are the main strategic goals Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi has set for itself in the medium term?

A strategic plan for Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi for 2020 was implemented in 2016 in line with the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan. In this respect, we seek to develop a promising generation that contributes to the services of the homeland and society through an active, high-level participation in the labor market and in Islamic affairs services. In order to achieve this, our university needs internally to maintain an efficient financial system and integrated administrative legislation based on distinctive human resource management. Externally, we need to gain a prominent media reputation in order to highlight the wide array of top-level services we offer and our strong social development commitment.

What are your expectations for 2018?

I believe that higher education in the UAE and at Mohammed V University Abu Dhabi will be improved in the coming years due to proper planning at the top of the Ministry of Higher Education and Mohammed V University.