Radha Hari, 17, has won the C$100,000 ($77,000) scholarship from Huron University in Canada, which is affiliated to the University of Western Ontario.
Ms Hari, a grade 12 pupil at the Indian High School in Oud Metha, is the only pupil from the Arab region to win the scholarship this year and the second pupil in the UAE to ever receive the award.
The Huron International Presidential Scholarship was established in 2018.
She starts her four-year studies in economics and finance in the autumn.
“It was a very ... heart attack moment, if I had to describe it,” Ms Hari said of the moment she found out she won the award.
“When I applied for this I just tried to put in my best efforts and did not really expect too much because I know it's a very hard thing to get. So I was shocked.
"By getting the presidential scholarship, I've been able to take a huge weight off my parents' shoulders, and it has also opened a lot of doors for my personal and career development.
“I think my leadership skills made me stand out because I've held posts at my school since I was in Grade 8 and tried to bring about new things and programmes. I have been a high-scoring pupil, which helped.”
Ms Hari worked on a women’s empowerment campaign and organised sessions in which pupils could receive advice on university admissions.
She, along with some peers, set up a club called Girl Up, which aims to create awareness about issues such as breast cancer, bullying, mental health and discrimination, among other problems faced by young people.
Ms Hari has also been dedicated to protecting the environment and collected about one tonne of paper for recycling for the Emirates Environmental Group.
In recognition of the contribution, three trees unique to Al Qudra region of Dubai were planted.
Ms Hari said she applied to universities in Canada and the Netherlands, but chose to attend a Canadian university.
“With Canada, I knew that there was a flexibility in my programme," he said.
"In the first year, although I'm firm on the fact that I want to take economics and finance, you can explore your choices. Even if I want to add another minor they would help me do that.
"With this university in particular, there are guaranteed internship programs. I wanted work exposure for myself, so I'd get a feel of the corporate world while studying.
"In terms of studying in the US, I did not look at it for my undergraduate studies, because affordability was one of the major factors.
"The scholarship opportunities in Canada make the education accessible to every student."
After finishing her studies, she aims to become qualified as a chartered financial analyst, before going on to receive a financial economics degree and entering the field of investment banking.
"This year, Radha Hari’s application truly stood out from the pack," said Dr Barry Craig, president at Huron University.
He said he was on the lookout for students who wanted to use their education to better the world.
"Radha’s desire to use the business foundations she’ll learn at Huron to tackle social inequalities around the world is the type of ambitious, innovative thinking we need," he said.
Moustafa Ezz, director of international recruitment and strategy at Huron University, said: “Each year, we award 10 presidential scholarships to students who are drawn to service and who are determined to use their education to positively impact global society and tackle some of our world’s greatest challenges.
“For 2022, Radha Hari was the only student to be selected from the UAE and across the Arab world. She is the second scholarship recipient from the UAE, the first having received the award in 2019."
Rema Menon, the director of career guidance service Counselling Point, who guided Ms Hari in her application, said that one of the key reasons it stood out was because she had been given several leadership roles in her school.
"More importantly, in spite of all the commitments and demands of the rigorous Central Board for Secondary Education curriculum, she found time to pursue the things she enjoys," said Ms Menon.