For most of his education, Omar Al Bastaki was hardly the perfect pupil. Yet writing about the great Sheikh Zayed helped give him the wake up call he needed, and this year he was the highest achiever in IB results for his school.
The 18-year-old Emirati broke a record for IB results at Jumeirah Baccalaureate School, scoring 41, when the average this year was 32, and smashing the previous high score of 39. But he hasn't always been top of the class.
"From year 6 to 9, I did not care about school. I had no ambition and going to school was just another class,” he said.
“Then it hit me – my family have expectations. I have a future ahead. My father is so established in the community, I did not want to be a disgrace to him. I’m his eldest son and he was expecting a return on what he had worked for.”
Omar's father, Mahmoud Al Bastaki, is a board member and CEO at Dubai Trade FZE.
After seeing the disappointed expression on his face during parent-teacher meetings, Omar became motivated to achieve more.
“Until the end of year 9, my grades were low … as a school pupil, you don’t always have motivation, but my father’s expectations pushed me to achieve more,” he said.
But then motivation struck, he says, in the form of an extended history essay – he wrote on the foreign policy of the late Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, for class.
“The more I learned about him, the more I felt grateful. I felt I want to be one of the success stories … my goal in life is to make a difference to UAE history and leave my mark.”
His essay was accepted in to the National Archives last month and Omar is now enrolled in Boston University. He aims to study “something with biology and chemistry, and in the long term, hopefully, medicine”.
It is still unclear if Omar will have to do his national service before going to university. His father said they will go through the formalities and see if it is possible to postpone it.
“People who achieve high academically and get high grades are given the option and his preference is to study first,” his father said.