Does your university as a body provide mentoring/counselling/peer support programmes to support students, staff, faculty from underrepresented groups?

CUD: As part of CUD’s community engagement , we have teamed up with the LINK Organization. The LINK,’ is a non-profit UAE initiative providing an active community platform where women from different ages and backgrounds can find support to advance professionally and to share workplace challenges,

After hosting the Induction Session, CUD has started its sixth cohort of the Programme. Professors from the University including Ms. Orsi, Dr. Louise, Ms. Dima and Dr. Fran have offered their services as mentors and are then matched up through the LINK organization who then allocates them to Mentees according to their needs.

The LINK aims to empower women through learning and developmental initiatives, nurturing female talent and strengthening their leadership capacity. Ultimately, the LINK’s vision is to encourage and support women in different stages of their lives and careers.

In the latest arrangement, Shirin Mehri has teamed up with Dr. Franziska Apprich, who will act as her Business Mentor. Previous Mentees have included Florelle Cloarec with Ms. Orsi,

After successfully completing projects in educations in Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Tanzania and the United States, Shirin is looking to leave her mark in the Entrepreneurship Education Ecosystem in the UAE. Since completing her MSc in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership from Babson College, she has immersed herself in the startup and entrepreneurial world of Dubai, working for some of the region’s fastest growing enterprises.

As Operations Manager at BizWorld UAE, she is responsible for overseeing and implementing workshops that aim to instill the entrepreneurial spirit in children in the UAE between the ages of 7 and 15 years.

Commenting on her involvement in the Mentorship programme Shirin stated that with the ever-changing educational environment we are experiencing today, she aims to refine her project management skills and work closely with Dr. Fran on a project focusing on Educational Board Games that will engage female students in understanding entrepreneurship both in and out of the classroom.

Dr. Fran and Shirin will be working on an entrepreneurship board game called ‘The Entrepreneur.’

The game will show the different steps in creating a new company from the licensing process through to becoming profitable (in an amusing way).The game will show how you need team spirit, empathy and kindness to succeed in business and building a successful team and company. Grades and degrees are only part of the game…and a bad grade can be compensated and balanced out with kindness points.

The initiative will be supported by the recently formed Business Incubator initiative in CUD, in cooperation with Ryerson University headed by Dr. Fran, Head of Learning Zones and Incubators

Dr. Fran stressed that supporting young women has always been close to her heart. She has published books on the subject and with the support of Communications students she has created the ‘she for she campaigns.’

“I want to inspire Shirin and support her to reach her creative and entrepreneurial potential and become a strong and independent woman.”

Ms. Orsi Urban who brought the LINK Mentoring Initiative to the University said it was important that young women should have the opportunity to learn from female mentors in a structured, safe, encouraging and professional relationship.

Students Launch #sheforshe Campaign

DUBAI, JUNE 27, 2017 - Canadian University Dubai students have started a campaign called #SheforShe, which aims to not only draw attention to the popular global campaign #HeforShe, but also aims to highlight the need for women to support each other in order to achieve their goals for gender equality.

The students, who are both male and female, decided to start the campaign as part of their Media Impact class with Dr. Franziska Apprich. During a class discussion the students realized that there are large gaps when it comes to women helping women achieve their goals.

“There’s a lot of negative energy between women,” explains student Ulla Al-Jabri. “In many ways we put each other down through judgement, competition, nasty comments, and we don’t support each other to achieve our goals. #HeforShe is great, but it we felt that it also needed to encompass women supporting women.”

They started by sending letters of thanks to women they consider to be role models and leaders in supporting other women. These role models include their own mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, as well as more high profile women like Queen Rania and Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The students also decorated a scarf with #SheforShe and shared pictures of themselves wearing it to share on social media.

“We decided to use a scarf because it represented traditional values, but also brought in the message of gender equality, and the idea that you can have both,” said student Harshe Gehani. “I liked it so much I decided to take it home.”

To date #HeforShe, which was created by the United Nations, has garnered support from film stars like Emma Watson, and politicians like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and boasts over 1,600,000 followers.

“I hope that the students manage to attract some attention to this campaign,” says Dr. Apprich. “Any kind of call to action to break down negative stereotypes is key to achieving real equality, and pushing a cultural shift towards women helping each other achieve their goals, and supporting each other, will also greatly help in the drive for gender equality.”

Anyone interested in participating in the #SheforShe campaign can promote the hashtag on social media and send thanks and congratulations to women around the world.

May 16th, 2019: Following the successful gala event, 'Music is our Voice', which brought together people of determination and the local school community in a spectacular celebration of music, Canadian University Dubai (CUD) Chancellor, Mr. Buti Saeed Al Ghandi, has spoken to Edarabia about the institution's actions towards promoting inclusion.

Why did CUD organize a music gala for people of determination? Would this be a yearly event?

The event was organized as part of the University’s ongoing endeavors to promote inclusion, understanding and coexistence, in the spirit of the UAE Year of Tolerance. Since 2017 we have seen the Canadian University Dubai EnSEmble grow and flourish into an extraordinary realization of individual and collective talent. We wanted to share that talent with our local community to mark Autism Awareness month.

We know from our work with people of determination that awareness and inclusion across wider society remain among the biggest challenges they face in everyday life. Canadian University Dubai wanted to bring people together in an inclusive celebration of music to help further advance the conversation about autism in the UAE; to change the discourse into concrete action and progress across every aspect of society – from education and employment to cultural and social interactions. The gala was also hosted as a fundraising event, to help support therapy, care and community initiatives for children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have been delighted by the response and similar future events.

Studies suggest that sports are associated not only with social inclusion, but also with physical wellbeing and the enhancement of self-esteem. Does music have the same effect?

Absolutely, music is by definition inclusive, without boundaries, music does not discriminate against anyone. Numerous studies have shown that the effect of music on confidence levels and self-esteem is significant. For instance, music has helped young people in conflict areas to cope with stress. In other contexts, music has given young refugees a voice, allowing them to be active participants in society. Music has had, over the history of mankind, an incredible unifying and healing power.

April 18th, 2019: Canadian University Dubai marked International Autism Awareness Month and UAE’s Year of Tolerance with a unique musical celebration last evening at Dubai Opera uniting the musical talents of people of determination and Mohammed Assaf, in an awe-inspiring gala event.

The audience of the enchanting event titled ‘Music is Our Voice’ enjoyed the incredible musical talents of the enSEmble choir and Mohammed Assaf’s captivating performance. Assaf’s inspirational story of overcoming challenges to realize his musical dream was a fitting accompaniment to the young singing stars of Canadian University Dubai’s enSEmble choir.

Speaking about Music is Our Voice event, Mohammed Assaf, said: “This has been a heart-warming and an empowering experience. Being able to sing along with these outstanding, determined talents was an uplifting moment in my career, and I’m proud to be supporting this worthy cause.”

Celebrating the unifying power of music, the gala event was organised by Canadian University Dubai to mark International Autism Awareness Month and to contribute to promoting inclusion and understanding as part of the UAE Year of Tolerance. Music is Our Voice was also proud to host the renowned Emirati vlogger, Khalid Al Ameri who delivered a touching speech on change, awareness and inclusion.

The concert brought together a diverse audience of people of determination, their families and support networks, as well as members of the wider UAE community. In partnership with the Emirates Red Crescent humanitarian organization, all proceeds from the event will be donated to the Autism Awareness campaign.

According to Autism Speaks, diagnosis has risen 15% in the past few years through improved identification from awareness, research and support services. The event is part of the global campaign to raise awareness of the condition and to promote understanding across the wider community of the special needs and talents of people on the spectrum.

For further information about Canadian University Dubai, please visit:


September 27, 2018; Dubai EnSENble is the UAE’s first choir for the ‘Determined Ones’ are now based in CUD.

The choir was founded by Mr. Rivaan Mager, Music Coordinator and Mr. Dusan Popovic, Sports Coordinator both employers at CUD. They have a passion for working with the people with determination and try to help their various challenges through their shared love of music.

There are also many volunteers who help out, some of them being ‘speech therapists or behavior therapists, all giving freely of their time to ensure the success of the choir.

The choir started in September 2017 and hosted their inaugural concert on November 24th 2017. This saw a full house at the CUD Red Theatre. The concert was the first of its kind in the UAE, and also featured the UAE Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert was a huge success and generated great emotion from the audience.

The choir has performed at various venues, including Global Village, MENA Special Needs Olympics in Abu Dhabi and they even had the opportunity to collaborate with leading schools in Dubai.

This year the choir has many events planned over the next 10 months, they will host their annual gala concert on 23rd November 2018 at 5pm at the Canadian University Dubai. The UAE Philharmonic will once again perform at this prestigious concert. There will also be guest performers from the “Which School Advisor” musician of the year competition and choirs from schools around Dubai.

The choir will also be performing at the Special Olympics World Games held in Abu Dhabi in 2019.

The Canadian University Dubai has been an integral part of the choir’s success, and they support the choir fully and have dedicated a ‘music studio’ for the choir to rehearse weekly. The university also has a passion towards inclusion through music.

The choir is free to join and is always welcoming new members to be part of this choir family. Through our passion for music, we want to show the UAE community that music unites everyone irrespective of our personal challenges in life. The choir rehearses every Thursday at the Canadian University, Dubai from 4:30pm-5:30pm.

In addition to coordinating music in CUD, Mr. Rivaan also undertakes peripatetic work in other schools with Determined Ones among their pupils.

April being the international month of Autism Awareness, Canadian University Dubai is taking the opportunity to play its part in the awareness-raising efforts of this important global campaign.

Having a very special group of talented musicians, we feel it is only fair to give back and share the joy that our choir brings; Canadian University Dubai presents ‘Music is Our Voice’, a concert highlighting the musical talents of people of determination.

We are proud to present this event in the amazing Dubai Opera on Wednesday April 17, where we can share this extraordinary night with parents, guests and fans, while giving these superstars the prestigious stage they deserve.

March 29th, 2016: Students at Canadian University Dubai (CUD) have received an inspirational talk from paralyzed athlete, Mr. Chris Khoury, about the importance of positivity and inner strength in day-to-day life.

Khoury, who was paralyzed from the chest down following a motocross accident in 2009, visited CUD in his capacity as an ambassador for the Wing for Life campaign, a non-profit research foundation that aims to find a cure for spinal cord-related disabilities.

Speaking about his life-changing accident, Khoury said that he made a conscious decision early on to adopt a positive attitude and seize every opportunity that came his way.

He said, “A voice inside my head said that this was my new reality, and I immediately chose to be positive about it. I have met so many different people and learned so many new things because of this. Most of all, I’ve discovered that positivity is contagious, and if you face your fears, you come out stronger both physically and emotionally, and so lead a fuller life.”

Following his accident, Khoury learned to cope with his constant pain through persistence and determination, and ultimately started to carve a new pathway to enjoy the recreational side of his life that had been hindered by his injury. Starting out with hand-cycling, he progressed to compete in triathlons, and is now at the forefront of promoting the Wings for Life World Run in Dubai.

The run, which will be held on May 8th at Dubai Autodrome, challenges the participant to stay ahead of the ‘catcher car’ to stay in the race for as long as possible. It is part of a global event that takes place in 35 countries simultaneously and involves more than 150,000 runners. All funds raised go to the Wing for Life Foundation.

Khoury concluded, “Once every six minutes, someone learns that they will never walk again. Our mission through this event is to raise awareness of spinal cord injury and make paralysis a thing of the past.”


The students behind the new Emirati sign-language app, Efhamni, have received a major boost in their plan to support the UAE deaf community, with a $7,000 award to scale their social enterprise from the Coca-Cola Foundation and INJAZ Al-Arab. The award follows the recent announcement of winners in the Ripples of Happiness university competition, a community initiative under which the innovation was developed.

The team of students from Canadian University Dubai (CUD) was the only group to represent the UAE in the region-wide initiative, and secured second place overall in the six-week program, attracting funding equivalent to more than AED 25,000 to help further develop and mainstream their app.

The technology was created in association with the UAE Deaf Association and the Kalimati Speech and Communication Center. It specifically aims to support Emiratization among hearing impaired citizens, helping them to access better education and employment opportunities by teaching them, their family, friends and colleagues, how to communicate effectively through Emirati sign language.

The app was unveiled to over 100 stakeholders at a recent public launch event. Speaking at the event, member of the Efhamni project management team, Craig Muyambo, said, “Our aim is to contribute to the UAE in two ways: by preserving its history through the Emirati language, heritage and dialect, and by building its future by engaging all sectors of society in a single community, connected by a common language.”

The financial boost comes as a result of the interest and impact the team generated for the app during the Ripples of Happiness competition. Sulaf Saleh Al Zu’bi, CEO of INJAZ UAE, said, “It was an inspiring journey giving students the opportunity to create and discover their talents applied in this program and remarkable software application. The Efhamni app can touch many hearts, helping engage people with hearing disabilities more easily, and making the use of sign language for the community around them more mainstream.”

Facilitated by Mr. Mohsin Harris of INJAZ UAE, the team received intensive mentoring support from two volunteers from the business community. Ms. Sveccha Kumar and Mr. Youshey Zakiuddin brought their experience of corporate social responsibility initiatives at telecoms firm, du, to help the students to identify and address a distinct community need.

The team also benefitted from the ongoing support of CUD Assistant Professor, Jeanette Teh, who said, “I am extremely proud of how much the students have accomplished in a short amount of time and how hard they have worked. Through this project, they have learned the importance of teamwork, planning, research, communication, and even diplomacy, all of which will help them in their future careers. It has been an incredible journey, full of challenging lessons, not just for the students, but also for us the mentors.

“I would like to thank INJAZ Al Arab and Coca-Cola Foundation for organizing this wonderful competition, which has taught our students so much about launching a socially responsible business, but perhaps, more importantly, that they can make a difference.”

The team has already held discussions with the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research around how the app can help in promoting access to education among the deaf community. Nérimel Bessa, another member of the Efhamni project management team said, “We are excited to embark upon this social enterprise and with the award from the Coca-Cola Foundation and INJAZ Al Arab, we can start to empower the deaf community by employing members to support in the ongoing development of the app.”

In addition to the community benefits that the app is expected to generate, the process has also been a rewarding experience for the entire team involved, and for the student behind the technology itself, engineering major, Omar Sharif Zakaria, it has opened the door to an exciting new project.

Omar said, “Based on my work on Efhamni I have been approached by one of Dubai’s leading real estate developers to work on the creation of an app that will give them a new platform to engage with their customers.”

Omar plans to take on the new project, while continuing to offer his free time to support the continual development of Efhamni. As for the enterprise itself, Nérimel concluded, “We know that we will need a lot more support along the way – both technically and financially – but this award has given us a great platform to move forward with our aim to make Emirati sign-language a mainstream form of communication for citizens and residents of the UAE, and also to provide a gateway for visitors to the country to learn the Arabic language.”