Reinforcing the maritime sector with qualified young Emirati calibre
In support of its strategy to empower the Arab maritime sector with academically-qualified professionals, study has started for the first semester of the 2019-2020 academic year at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Sharjah “AASTS”, at its headquarters in Khorfakkan. The first batch of students started their educational journey in maritime engineering and marine transportation, and also received merit scholarships from His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. The grant also covered the Academy’s construction, providing it with state-of-the-art equipment, educational aids, and simulation and training systems. The grant provided a scholarship to 100 Emirati students from Sharjah.
A significant milestone for the local maritime sector
Dr. Hisham Afifi, Advisor to the President of the Academy and in charge of Khorfakkan’s branch, emphasized, “Starting the first semester in our Sharjah’s branch is a major milestone for the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport. As one of the specialised organisations of The Arab League, the Academy has always sought to solidify the achieved success in Egypt by opening branches in other Arab countries. We have a branch in Syria and are working to maintain our achievements in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. However, the Academy’s branch in Sharjah is the biggest and most equipped so far. It is on par with the best educational and academic institutions worldwide, with an area of approximately 200,000 square metres. This is almost the same area of the Academy’s headquarters in Alexandria. The construction and equipment cost almost AED 1 billion.”
Afifi added, “With the beginning of the first semester, we embark on our journey towards achieving the Academy’s vision and strategic objectives. The Academy will be a source to continuously provide academically-qualified professionals from both Emiratis and citizens of neighbouring countries to meet the growing demand for National professionals in this vital sector, which is key to the region’s maritime economy. The Academy seeks to enhance the investment environment in the regional maritime sector by providing the needed education and training for maritime entities. It will also enable academic partnership with the maritime sector through the Academy’s specialised professionals. This in turn will provide the Arab maritime economy with advanced research and development capabilities.”
Distinguished batch of students
Out of over 180 applicants, 87 students have been accepted in the first batch at the Academy after passing placement, language and medical fitness tests. This is a reasonable number and is close to the target.
Dr. Ahmed Youssef, in charge of the Maritime Transport College – Sharjah Branch, clarified, “Such generous merit by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, covered 100 scholarships for Emirati students from Sharjah, but admission to the Academy is not limited to getting certain marks on high school exams. Students must pass medical fitness tests required to work in the maritime sector. The number of students accepted in the first batch is an excellent start within those requirements.”
The turnout of female students to enrol in the Academy was remarkable. A total of 31 female students were accepted in the first batch. This is an indication of the empowerment of Emirati women in the local maritime sector. Women work alongside men in building key economic and developmental capabilities in the UAE.
Study will start in two main majors that the Academy offers in the first phase. The first is maritime transport technology, which has two specialisations: ports and maritime operations. Graduates will receive a bachelor’s degree in addition to a second officer certificate. The second section is the marine engineering section. Graduates will receive a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering in two specialisations; marine mechanics or marine electricity in addition to a third marine engineer certificate. Both degrees qualify graduates to work on commercial and offshore vessels. AASTS also seeks to attract professionals working in the UAE maritime organisations who wish to take specialised training courses as part of the Academy’s professional development and continuing education programmes. AASTS provides maritime passport renewal for maritime officers, engineers, and ratings, as well as cooperates with the training departments of shipping companies to design specialised training programmes in various maritime technical and administrative areas, benefitting from the Academy’s state-of-the-art simulators.
Beyond academic study
Commenting on the study environment at the college and the added value for students, Youssef explained, “The Academy’s top management realises that working in the maritime sector requires certain competencies. That’s why, we have designed a number of fun, social, and practical activities alongside the educational activities. This aims to make study and learning at the Academy a journey to build personality in a joyous and happy atmosphere, giving students incentives to excel and be creative. This extends beyond the limits of the typical study relationship with an academic institution. These activities include field trips to major marine companies and facilities, in addition to sports, recreational and art activities to refine students’ personalities and develop their life experiences, and make their study time at the Academy useful for their careers as well as their personal and leadership capabilities.