Saad Mahmud, 17, a student at Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi, scored five As in his AS-level exams and plans to apply to top universities in the US and the UK to study medicine. Sammy Dallal / The National
Saad Mahmud, 17, a student at Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi, scored five As in his AS-level exams and plans to apply to top universities in the US and the UK to study medicine. Sammy Dallal / The

Straight As will open doors for aspiring doctor from Abu Dhabi



ABU DHABI // Saad Mahmud was thrilled when he found out he achieved five straight As for his AS levels this year.

The student at Cambridge High School in Abu Dhabi hopes to be admitted to the medical studies programme next year at the University of Oxford, one of the world's most prestigious universities.

"I was quite surprised and trembling at the thought of the results," he said. "I couldn't sleep all night but when I found out, my family and I just jumped for joy."

He will now have to apply by October for university entry next year.

"Medicine is such a competitive field so you need excellent scores," he said. "I applied to some of the best universities in the UK and the US, including Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton and Yale."

His first choice, Oxford, is motivating him to achieve top results on his A levels next year.

"The medical programme there fascinates me," said Saad, a 17-year-old Pakistani-Dutch. "There's so much learning and the programme suits my needs. To go there has been my aim since I was 11 years old."

He is confident he will achieve his ambitious goal.

"Universities consider your academic record a lot but you should have some extra-curricular too, and medical experience," he said. "I volunteered at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi so, so far, I don't think it'll be a problem."

Saad, who plans to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, is also hoping to secure a full scholarship should he decide to study in the US.

"My grades can get me a hefty scholarship," he said. "I believe that you should keep all your options open because you never know."

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Four reasons global stock markets are falling right now

There are many factors worrying investors right now and triggering a rush out of stock markets. Here are four of the biggest:

1. Rising US interest rates

The US Federal Reserve has increased interest rates three times this year in a bid to prevent its buoyant economy from overheating. They now stand at between 2 and 2.25 per cent and markets are pencilling in three more rises next year.

Kim Catechis, manager of the Legg Mason Martin Currie Global Emerging Markets Fund, says US inflation is rising and the Fed will continue to raise rates in 2019. “With inflationary pressures growing, an increasing number of corporates are guiding profitability expectations downwards for 2018 and 2019, citing the negative impact of rising costs.”

At the same time as rates are rising, central bankers in the US and Europe have been ending quantitative easing, bringing the era of cheap money to an end.

2. Stronger dollar

High US rates have driven up the value of the dollar and bond yields, and this is putting pressure on emerging market countries that took advantage of low interest rates to run up trillions in dollar-denominated debt. They have also suffered capital outflows as international investors have switched to the US, driving markets lower. Omar Negyal, portfolio manager of the JP Morgan Global Emerging Markets Income Trust, says this looks like a buying opportunity. “Despite short-term volatility we remain positive about long-term prospects and profitability for emerging markets.” 

3. Global trade war

Ritu Vohora, investment director at fund manager M&G, says markets fear that US President Donald Trump’s spat with China will escalate into a full-blown global trade war, with both sides suffering. “The US economy is robust enough to absorb higher input costs now, but this may not be the case as tariffs escalate. However, with a host of factors hitting investor sentiment, this is becoming a stock picker’s market.”

4. Eurozone uncertainty

Europe faces two challenges right now in the shape of Brexit and the new populist government in eurozone member Italy.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, which has offices in Dubai, says the stand-off between between Rome and Brussels threatens to become much more serious. "As with Brexit, neither side appears willing to step back from the edge, threatening more trouble down the line.”

The European economy may also be slowing, Mr Beauchamp warns. “A four-year low in eurozone manufacturing confidence highlights the fact that producers see a bumpy road ahead, with US-EU trade talks remaining a major question-mark for exporters.”


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