Diana T Fritz 12/06/2006 03:16:48 PM From DB/Inbox: Search Results
UNCLAS ABU DHABI 00964
INFO: AMB DCM
APPROVED: AMB: MSISON
DRAFTED: APAO: DEDGINTON
CLEARED: DCM: RALBRIGHT PA:HOLSIN-WINDECKER CON:RDOLCE
RR RUEHC RUEHZM
DE RUEHAD #0964/01 0601238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011238Z MAR 05
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8454
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 000964
NEA/PPD; NEA/ARP; ECA/P:PIVES
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: UAE: INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION WEEK ACTIVITIES
1. (U) Summary: PAO Abu Dhabi postponed International
Education Week activities due to the mourning period
following the death of UAE President Sheikh Zayed. PAO
subsequently spread the activities out over several weeks in
November and December. Public Affairs Officers and
Education Advisors visited a number of schools throughout
the UAE, spoke with students about the value of studying in
the U.S. and addressed concerns about the U.S. educational
experience. It remains challenging to persuade Emirati
families to send their children to study in the U.S. due to
misperceptions and fear about the visa process and homeland
security measures. End summary.
2. (U) PAO initially planned to conduct IEW activities for
the week of November 15-19, but postponed them due to the
passing of President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan on
November 2, and the resulting mourning period. PAO
eventually spread out IEW events over the course of four
weeks, from November 23 to December 19, with follow-up
activities occurring February 5-6.
3. (U) The mission included the International Education Week
(IEW) as part of its on-going efforts to reach out to
students and parents in the UAE to promote study in the U.S.
Post has experienced a drastic decline in the numbers of
students from the UAE pursuing educational opportunities in
the U.S. after 9/11. In the past year there has been an
uptick in the numbers of student visa applications, but
there is a long way to go to re-coup the pre-9/11 levels.
In CY 2003, we issued only 124 student/exchange visitor
visas to Emiratis; in CY 2004, that number jumped to 248.
While this is a 100% improvement, we have a long way to go
to reach the 2001 student/exchange visitor level of 657.
4. (U) Besides describing the overall benefits of a US
education, our outreach efforts have included de-mystifying
the visa application procedure in order to present a more
positive and accurate picture about the process, as well as
to dispel the prevalent fear that the U.S. is a dangerous
destination for Arabs and Muslims. These outreach efforts
have required close cooperation between the Consular and
Public Affairs sections, resulting in the incorporation of
material on the visa application process into press kits,
conducting joint presentations and placing information on
emergency/medical travel on the public website.
5. (U) Occurring in a variety of venues, the mission
followed a similar format in presenting IEW activities. The
PA officer and educational advisor spoke on the advantages
of studying in the U.S. including the following key points:
--Prestige of an American degree
--State-of-the-art U.S. technology and facilities
--Care and attention given to the needs of international
--Flexibility in areas of academic specialization
--Unique U.S. pedagogical style that emphasizes student
ownership of learning.
The presentation included information on filling out college
applications, procedures for seeking financial aid, and how
to navigate the visa process. All presentations stressed
the value of a U.S. college degree, and addressed perceived
anti-Arab bias in the U.S. The presenters also provided
students with materials published by EducationUSA, and
provided instructions on contacting the Educational Advising
Center for more information and individual help.
6. (U) PA Abu Dhabi kicked off International Education Week
on November 23 by holding a DVC with the ECA Educational
Advising Office for 40 UAE students interested in U.S.
educational opportunities. Although the program experienced
technical difficulties, the educational advisor was able to
turn it into an interactive session between the
participants. They asked questions about U.S. visa policy,
services for Muslims on U.S. campuses, current attitudes of
Americans toward Arabs and Muslims and other topics.
Educational Advisor Abu Dhabi is conducting a second DVC on
February 22 due to the interest and demand generated from
7. (U) On November 28, Educational Advisor Abu Dhabi
conducted two U.S. education outreach sessions at Zayed
University in Abu Dhabi and UAE University in Al Ain, in
conjunction with the consular section. PAO used these
venues to provide information about graduate study, UAE
student visa application procedures and USG educational
exchange program opportunities to Emirati national students.
On December 12 the Educational Advisor conducted a third
outreach session at the 1st annual UAE University
Mathematical Sciences Conference.
8. (U) On November 29-30 the Public Affairs Section invited
the 50 Abu Dhabi emirate microscholarship high school
students to the embassy for sessions on the history of U.S.
immigration, tour of the embassy and lunch. Four (4)
officers from the embassy assisted in facilitating the
discussion. The background of the officers (consisting of
junior and mid-level officers including a young single
female, a woman married to a Sudanese Muslim, a military
officer, and a first generation Muslim-American born in
Kabul) provided the boys and girls with examples of the
diverse nature of America. The students toured the embassy
to learn about the building's cutting-edge environmental
features and had lunch in the cafeteria. A few days after
the event, post received a package of thank you cards and
posters from each of the school groups. APAO Abu Dhabi
followed up this session with a presentation on U.S.
immigration to the 25 male Abu Dhabi emirate
microscholarship high school students on February 5 and the
Abu Dhabi Educational Advisor gave the same presentation to
the 25 female Abu Dhabi emirate microscholarship high school
students on February 6.
9. (U) On November 28, PA Dubai held a presentation at the
U.S. Consulate for 12 student advisors and career counselors
from schools across Dubai and the Northern Emirates. CONOFF
Dubai provided information on the visa application process.
BPAO Dubai scheduled follow up visits to the schools
10. (U) BPAO Dubai gave an IEW presentation at Zayed
University on November 29, followed by a meeting with
faculty and staff at Dubai Men's College to plan a DMC study
tour to the U.S., which was subsequently planned for March.
On December 5, BPAO Dubai and Fulbright scholar Nadia Rahman
visited the Higher Colleges of Technology in Fujeirah where
Ms. Rahman gave a presentation on her experiences as an Arab-
American and as a journalist working for BBC and Al-Jazeera
in the West Bank, and described her Fulbright project on
oral history in the UAE. BPAO Dubai and Ms. Rahman
conducted a second presentation at the American Corner in
the Fujeirah Women's College.
11. (U) On December 9, BPAO Dubai gave a presentation on
options for studying in the U.S. to an assembly of over 250
students at the Indian High School Career Fair. PA Dubai
also placed an information booth at the fair, which was
visited by over 50 students and parents. On December 18 and
19, BPAO Dubai and Educational Advisors from both Abu Dhabi
and Dubai attended "Career Day" events at Dubai National
School and Ittihad School, gave presentations and
distributed relevant material to over 200 students.
12. (U) The IEW presentations were well received by the
targeted audiences, indicating positive feelings among
Emiratis about the American people and respect for American
educational institutions. However, fostering educational
exchange among Emiratis continues to be a great challenge.
The UAE is a conservative society with families that are
reluctant to send their children (especially daughters) to
study overseas. These concerns are further reinforced by
widespread misperceptions about the hostile environment for
Arabs and Muslims in the U.S., which is reinforced daily by
television and print news reports. However, successfully
promoting U.S. educational opportunities to Emiratis can
counter this effect, as anecdotal and poll results (Zogby
International - June 2004) indicate a significant increase
in Emirati favorable opinion of the American people if they
have visited the U.S.
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