New elite course for future Emirati diplomats launched

More than two dozen to study Master of Arts in Diplomacy at Emirates Diplomatic Academy

Emirates Diplomatic Academy director general Bernardino Leon, pictured here with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the 27-place course was full already. Courtesy: Wam
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The UAE is seeking to train “the best diplomats in the world” with the launch of the country’s first master’s degree in diplomacy and international relations.

A select group of 27 students is now studying for the new Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Relations, announced on Monday by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy.

The course is “possibly the first of its kind in the region,” according to Bernardino Leon, the Director General of the academy, which opened its doors in Abu Dhabi two years ago.

Training diplomats and Emiratis working for, and with, global organisations was essential, said Mr Leon.

“This is a globalised country. We don’t think there are many examples in the world of such and open and globalised country," he said.

“Globalised in its international relations, globalised in its economic, relations, energy, its society. It is very much a global actor and this requires the best diplomats.”

The new master’s degree, which is accredited by the Ministry of Education, can be completed in as little as two semesters, with an option for further study and the opportunity to either complete a thesis or take an exam at the end.

The academy already offers a post-graduate diploma, which all those taking the MA have already earned, said Mr Leon.

With limited places, the academy had to turn away prospective students, even though they met its rigorous academic standards.

Those already enroled will study courses ranging from US and European foreign and security policy towards the Middle East, to international relations and diplomacy and extremism.

For future courses, the academy hopes to recruit from a wider range of UAE institutions, to train not just diplomats, but others whose work places them in an international environment.

Mr Leon spent 25 years as a diplomat before taking the post of Director General, working for the Spanish government and more recently as special representative of the United Nations Secretary General to Libya.

The academy was founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with a mandate of excellence, Mr Leon said.

“Excellence. because we are trying to support the training off the best diplomats in the world," he said.

Those obtaining the new masters degree will: “Be out there working, interacting, creating, producing with the best diplomats.”

The world of international diplomacy, "means really good thinking, it means analytical, practical skills", said Mr Leon.

Diplomats, he said, must be able to “distinguish in real time what is the right information I need to promote the national interests of my country".