Noamaan Tahrir Ahmed, 7, at Dubai Autism Centre, where his care is funded by START. Razan Alzayani / The National
Noamaan Tahrir Ahmed, 7, at Dubai Autism Centre, where his care is funded by START. Razan Alzayani / The National

UAE scholarship keeps a family from separating

DUBAI// Benazeer Khanam faced an agonising decision last year. She could stay in the UAE and struggle to provide for her son, Noamaan, who has severe autism. Or she could return to India to find affordable care - saying goodbye to her home and leaving behind her husband, an engineer in Sharjah. She prayed every day for a solution.

Her deliverance came via a scholarship from START, a non-profit organisation that works with underprivileged children.

The scholarship - awarded last year and renewed this month - pays for Noamaan's educational, occupational and speech therapy sessions at the Dubai Autism Centre. The aid allowed his parents to increase his sessions from three to nine hours a week. It also ended thoughts of splitting the family.

"I don't have words to explain that feeling," said Ms Khanam, 32. "Because we were about to get separated, our family. And because of START, we are together now."

Noamaan, now 7, is one of three recipients of this year's START scholarship, which provides educational or vocational support depending on need.

For Safiea Ahmed Khalfan, 25, who grew up in an orphanage in Al Ain, the scholarship will fund 18 months of internships, mentoring and training.

"I was very, very happy and excited - and proud of myself," said Ms Khalfan, an HR management major at Emirates College of Technology. Scheduled to graduate in May, she hopes the scholarship experience will help her to find a full-time job.

"I want to get the knowledge and skills that will make me independent and successful," she said.

The third scholarship recipient is Dana Saleh, a young woman in Jordan who wants to study interior design. The scholarship will fund her college tuition, housing and living expenses.

START was founded in 2007 to provide art education to refugees, children with special needs and other vulnerable young people. The organisation offers regular art workshops in the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, India and the Palestinian territories. This is the third year that START has also offered extended scholarships, which do not have to involve art.

"It's really to give the candidate themselves a shot to do something, change their situation, use their talent," said Tanaz Dizadji, START's director.

Ms Khalfan impressed START with her ambition and optimism.

"We interviewed quite a few candidates, but Safiea, she shines," Ms Dizadji said.

Dar Zayed for Family Care, where Ms Khalfan was brought up, is the UAE's largest orphanage. Dar Zayed children receive UAE nationality, and girls can remain with the orphanage until they marry.

"There are advantages and disadvantages, but mostly you feel that you are growing up alone," Ms Khalfan said. "But you have to be strong for yourself. I don't have anybody to stay with me. I have to be strong."

She lived in the orphanage's main branch in Al Ain until she was a teenager, then moved to Abu Dhabi, where she lives in a villa with other young women from Dar Zayed.

For 2011 scholarship winner James Casaki, the experience was a stepping stone to finding a job. Mr Casaki, now 25, loves to draw and paint but has a rare congenital condition called Kabuki syndrome. The scholarship enabled him to leave Dubai Centre for Special Needs and pursue his passion.

"It was an amazing experience for me, just to get out there and to do my art," said Mr Casaki, who was born in England and moved to the UAE when he was 17.

During his scholarship year, he interned with arts organisations around Dubai. He now works at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre. The scholarship was not easy for Mr Casaki, but it opened a new world.

"It was a lot of hard work," he said. "But I got through it."


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Expo details

Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia

The world fair will run for six months from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021.

It is expected to attract 25 million visits

Some 70 per cent visitors are projected to come from outside the UAE, the largest proportion of international visitors in the 167-year history of World Expos.

More than 30,000 volunteers are required for Expo 2020

The site covers a total of 4.38 sqkm, including a 2 sqkm gated area

It is located adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South

Top 10 most competitive economies

1. Singapore
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. Ireland
5. Hong Kong
6. Sweden
7. UAE
8. Taiwan
9. Netherlands
10. Norway

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 


Uefa Champions League semi-final, second leg
Real Madrid (2) v Bayern Munich (1)

Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
When: 10.45pm, Tuesday
Watch Live: beIN Sports HD

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.


Starting at 10am:

Daria Kasatkina v Qiang Wang

Veronika Kudermetova v Annet Kontaveit (10)

Maria Sakkari (9) v Anastasia Potapova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Ons Jabeur (15)

Donna Vekic (16) v Bernarda Pera 

Ekaterina Alexandrova v Zarina Diyas

Russia's Muslim Heartlands

Dominic Rubin, Oxford


Fixture: Thailand v UAE, Tuesday, 4pm (UAE)

TV: Abu Dhabi Sports


Director: Rajesh A Krishnan

Starring: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon

Rating: 3.5/5

The Killer

Director: David Fincher

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell

Rating: 4/5 

How to wear a kandura


  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester


  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
A cheaper choice

Vanuatu: $130,000

Why on earth pick Vanuatu? Easy. The South Pacific country has no income tax, wealth tax, capital gains or inheritance tax. And in 2015, when it was hit by Cyclone Pam, it signed an agreement with the EU that gave it some serious passport power.

Cost: A minimum investment of $130,000 for a family of up to four, plus $25,000 in fees.

Criteria: Applicants must have a minimum net worth of $250,000. The process take six to eight weeks, after which the investor must travel to Vanuatu or Hong Kong to take the oath of allegiance. Citizenship and passport are normally provided on the same day.

Benefits:  No tax, no restrictions on dual citizenship, no requirement to visit or reside to retain a passport. Visa-free access to 129 countries.

Bob Marley: One Love

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Starring: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, James Norton

Rating: 2/5

The team

Videographer: Jear Velasquez 

Photography: Romeo Perez 

Fashion director: Sarah Maisey 

Make-up: Gulum Erzincan at Art Factory 

Models: Meti and Clinton at MMG 

Video assistant: Zanong Maget 

Social media: Fatima Al Mahmoud  

The specs: 2018 Mazda CX-5

Price, base / as tested: Dh89,000 / Dh130,000
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder
Power: 188hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 251Nm @ 4,000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
​​​​​​​Fuel consumption, combined: 7.1L / 100km


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

if you go

The flights

Emirates offer flights to Buenos Aires from Dubai, via Rio De Janeiro from around Dh6,300.

Seeing the games

Tangol sell experiences across South America and generally have good access to tickets for most of the big teams in Buenos Aires: Boca Juniors, River Plate, and Independiente. Prices from Dh550 and include pick up and drop off from your hotel in the city.


Staying there

Tangol will pick up tourists from any hotel in Buenos Aires, but after the intensity of the game, the Faena makes for tranquil, upmarket accommodation. Doubles from Dh1,110.


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