Zayed's grandson joins the force

Following in his father's footsteps, Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser is one of the new officers - five of them women - to patrol the capital.

Abu Dhabi - February 22, 2010: The Abu Dhabi Police College Graduation. Lauren Lancaster / The National
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ABU DHABI // Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser father's career as a police officer inspired the young man to his big day yesterday: graduation from Abu Dhabi Police College. And the grandson of Sheikh Zayed said his royal lineage did not make his training any easier. He said his first day, four-and-a-half years ago, was an eye-opener. "I feel like dancing," Sheikh Ahmed said yesterday after graduating from the college with a lieutenant's rank. "On my first day, I was not expecting the atmosphere I found myself in. I thought we would be more pampered and comfortable, such as sleeping conditions for example." When students first enter the college, they have to stay on campus for 45 consecutive days and are not allowed to leave. After that, they may go home on weekends. Sheikh Ahmed said that during the first stage, students were not even allowed to watch television. "Bedtime is compulsory for everyone at 10pm. If you can't sleep, it is your problem; you have to deal with it," he said. Sheikh Ahmed, 24, had just graduated from high school when his late father, Sheikh Nasser bin Zayed, enrolled him in the college. "It was my father who brought me here the first time; he died two years ago, and I insist on continuing his police path," he said, adding that he plans to register for a master's programme in law. "I did not feel that I changed since entering the college, but when I used to go back home for holidays my family told me that I changed in the way I talk, walk, and that I became a well-mannered person," he said. After the ceremony, there will be 304 more lieutenants in the force, representing the college's 20th graduating class. Five of the graduates are women. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Minister of Interior and UAE Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed and several other members of the Royal Family, plus ministers and dignitaries, attended the ceremony. The class included 176 students who entered the college after high school and enrolled in its four-and-a-half-year bachelor's programme. Two graduates were from Qatar, and two others from Jordan. The remaining 123 students - and the five female officers - were enrolled in the one-year programme for university graduates. Since its inception in 1988, the college has graduated 2,669 officers from the bachelor's programme, 937 from the graduate programme, 188 foreign exchange students, and 68 women. "This place is a man-making factory, that's why I chose to join," said First Lt Abdulla al Shehi, who, after graduating from the academy in 2001, became an academic supervisor at the college. Lt al Shehi is in charge of the students' academic studies. He makes sure everybody attends classes and remains committed to their school work. He said he had learnt things at the college that went beyond police work, such as how to organise his life and become committed and disciplined to his faith in Islam. Lt al Shehi, 27, is a father of two, and said he wanted to enrol his children in the college when they grew up. "Since I was a child my dream was always to become a professional at shooting," said another graduate, Lt Mabkhout al Minhali, 24, who joined so he could be part of the police shooting section. Hamza al Ajarema, the Jordanian graduate, was a first-year computer science student at the University of Jordan when he was chosen by his country's national security to enrol in Abu Dhabi Police College. When Lt al Ajarema's mother, who was in attendance at the ceremony, was told her son would travel to study at the police college, she said she was very scared."He was too young, he didn't even have a moustache yet." However, she was able to overcome her fears and embraced the idea. And it was to her son's benefit that she did: he graduated at the top of his group of foreign students.