Emirati NYU Abu Dhabi student wins scholarship to study at University of Oxford

NYU Abu Dhabi student Dubai Abulhoul has won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.

Dubai Abulhoul, who is majoring in political science at NYUAD, has been selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Courtesy NYUAD
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ABU DHABI // NYU Abu Dhabi student Dubai Abulhoul has won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford.

The 20-year-old Emirati will be joined on the scholarship programme by fellow student Guillaume Sylvain, from Canada.

Previously, six other students from the university have also won the honour.

Ms Abulhoul is studying political science and is currently researching the effect of gender roles and culture on political participation in her home country.

She is a member of the Emirates Youth Council, a government initiative to develop government strategies to keep up with youth trends and to identify challenges facing today’s youth.

She also is a published author, having written the fantasy novel Galagolia: The Hidden Divination, in 2012, which made her the UAE's youngest published author and won her the title of 2014 Arab Woman Award for Young Talent of the Year.

She has also interned at the UAE Embassy in Washington DC.

On winning the scholarship, she said: “I am very grateful to be chosen as a Rhodes Scholar to represent both my country and university at the University of Oxford next year. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support and kindness of all the people who helped and encouraged me.”

She will be studying diplomacy at Oxford, which she hopes will teach her to rely “on the diversity of the people and experiences around me, not just what I learn in the classroom”.

She found out earlier this week she had won the scholarship. She said: “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure I would get it even when I went for interview. The university played a big role in encouraging me to apply and I’m really glad I took the risk.”

She hopes her success encourages other Emirati women to apply for similar scholarships at a time when “the opportunities presented to Emiratis and Emirati women” are more abundant than ever.

The scholarship is one of the world’s oldest and most recognisable awards for international fellowship and academic study.

Established in 1902 by the will of the late British businessman and politician Cecil Rhodes, the scholarship pays all expenses for up to three years at the University of Oxford in England. The annual value of the scholarship is about US$50,000 (Dh183,000).

The pair join the likes of the former US president, Bill Clinton, the prime minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, and the astronomer Edwin Hubble as scholarship winners.

Mr Sylvain, one of 95 students taken annually on the scholarship programme, is studying NYUAD’s interdisciplinary Arab Crossroads programme and minoring in Arabic language and political science, immersing himself in Arabic language.

He said the city has given him a wealth of experience, having served as the chairperson for the student organisation AD-vocacy and as an Arabic translator and crew member with Refugee Rescue UK in its international rescue efforts in Lesbos Island, Greece. He has also interned at the Embassy of Canada and at Hedayah, an International Centre for Countering Violent Extremism based in the UAE.

“It’s just opened up many more opportunities. The position of NYU in Abu Dhabi helped a lot in that way as well,” he said.

He plans to continue his focus on Modern Middle Eastern studies with a focus on conflict resolution and policymaking.