Custom Program Builds Capacity in the UAE

Custom Program Builds Capacity in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, with impressive economic growth in a diverse number of sectors as well as significant revenue from petroleum and natural gas. One challenge for the nation, however, has been to improve their educational systems and turn investments into innovation. For that, they reached out to the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD).

SCPD, working closely with UAE’s Prime Minister and the Ministry of Education, developed a targeted innovation education program that could scale quickly to foster innovation talent throughout the country.

The UAE Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education Initiative works with UAE universities to facilitate innovation education designed for young adults, who are considered key drivers of a future innovation-based economy in the UAE.

Drawing upon Stanford’s in-depth experience in innovation education and research, the initiative focuses on faculty development, providing online and in-person courses and workshops, faculty coaching, customized visits to Stanford, and leadership training to UAE faculty. These faculty in turn share the learning with their students, teaching classes in innovation, design thinking, and more. Leveraging the train-the-trainer model at a large scale, faculty and students share knowledge with others in academia as well as industry through “Innovation Champions” —ambassadors and mentors trained to spread the learning. Participants have also established High-Impact Projects to identify solutions to local challenges.

UAE faculty learned how to incorporate a more hands-on, experiential approach to teaching and learning. Students describe the program as “transformative” — giving them the tools and mindset to think creatively, seek collaboration, and to be actively engaged in learning with faculty. “I’ve learned to approach real-world problems with confidence,” says one student.

A replicable model of capacity building, the initiative bridges the gap between academia and industry and has already positively impacted the UAE ecosystem. Since the program’s inception in 2015,

  • 43+ universities in the UAE have participated
  • 100+ UAE faculty and instructors have been trained
  • Thousands of UAE students have taken Stanford courses and workshops 

The opportunity to connect SCPD’s extensive experience delivering online, on-site, and in-person education programs to a regional audience is a model that can be replicated worldwide. Contact the SCPD programs team at to get started.