Vision 2021: A vision for education in the UAE

UAE Vision 2021

UAE Vision 2021 was launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, at the closing of a Cabinet meeting in 2010.

The Vision aims to make the UAE among the best countries in the world by the Golden Jubilee of the Union. In order to translate the Vision into reality, its pillars have been mapped into six national priorities which represent the key focus sectors of government action in the coming years. This initiative is backed by the UK’s Bett Show, one of the world’s leading education technology shows.

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image courtesy of supplier. Image courtesy of supplier.

Back in 2010, the United Arab Emirates launched the Vision 2021 project, which addressed key development issues across the nation. As part of this, the Emirates have implemented the ‘First-Rate Education’ plan, with the aims to implement dramatic reforms to the curriculum, improve teaching through professional development and encourage schools to develop the 21st Century skills young people need to succeed.

Last year, the UAE allocated 21.2 per cent of its federal budget to the education sector, with a view to improving training for teachers, revolutionising the curriculum, and developing new learning programmes. As part of this, there were several key goals, including the improvement of the Emirates’ TIMSS and PISA rankings, increasing enrolment in the early years, enhancing students’ skills in Arabic and ensuring quality in teaching and leadership.

The UAE seeks to reach these goals by focusing on two major strands of development: cultural and economic.

Cultural development

The cultural strand of development works to encourage a sense of national identity in young people, while encouraging them to be part of a diverse and multicultural society. 28th November each year marks UAE National Day, where pupils are encouraged to celebrate their UAE heritage through performances, songs, and national costume. At the same time, schools are also celebrating internationalism. For example, Nibras International School in Dubai has had an ‘International Day’ since 2005; with 17 separate nationalities making up the student populace, they teach each other languages and explain elements of their own cultures. Through this, the UAE intends to promote tolerance, encourage national pride and tackle extremism.

While it has been reported that there are 450 million Arabic speakers in the world, very little online content is presented in the language (at around three per cent). Part of the innovation strategy is to encourage Arabic-speaking students to shift this balance to be more representative.

Economic growth

In terms of economic growth, the UAE has fostered a dedication to encouraging 21st Century skills, with the aim of promoting innovation in the curriculum, and this is evident in the emirates’ investment into ICT hitting $15 billion in 2014. As with many other nations, the UAE has shown a great emphasis towards Science, technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), especially with many employers in the emirates rating technological skills as the most important for the UAE’s rapidly changing industries. There are a number of projects involved in this, including the establishment of 122 Innovation Libraries in schools across the UAE, which provide an environment through which students can develop their skills using technology. While the main source of information in these libraries will still be books, the children will also be given the opportunity to experiment with various digital media and communication resources, preparing them for the world of the future.

One of the crucial elements of this strategy is getting companies, universities and schools working together to foster creative thinking towards business, technology, and national development. A great deal of investment has been allocated through the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy to boost the amount of scientific research and entrepreneurial activities in businesses, and partnerships between companies and educational institutions have been encouraged to establish expertise in unique areas.

Encouraging innovation

The first UAE Innovation Week was launched in 2015, encompassing hundreds of events. Such events included workshops and conferences, hackathons and competitions to encourage young people to think creatively and become problem solvers. Following the success of 2016’s Innovation Week, where 1,250 creative thinking events were held across the UAE, it was decided that February 2018 would become Innovation Month, to encourage more schools, businesses and individuals to consider the prospects of innovation, as well as attracting more international interest in the celebrations.


Young people between the ages of 15 and 35 are the main target for the UAE’s innovation strategy. The Emirates Foundation looks to guide, inspire and empower young people as entrepreneurs, eager to take advantage of the technology at their disposal and to take risks as part of the digital revolution. However, there is still more that can be done to provide the ideal landscape for young people to get involved with entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses.

Education in the UAE has taken big steps towards creating a more innovative future for Emirati citizens in the last six years since the start of the Vision 2021 programme, and the next four years are set to see even more changes and opportunities both nationally and internationally. As one of the fastest improving nations worldwide, the UAE should be a focal point in education as we move into the future.

Visit for more information.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

  • What it’s like to be a teacher with an anxiety disorder
    What it’s like to be a teacher with an anxiety disorder

    We all feel anxious sometimes. Maybe it is going into a new situation such as starting a new job, or having to have a difficult conversation. The feeling of nervousness and anxiousness is completely normal, and an evolutionary necessity. However, for some people, like me, that feeling of anxiousness never goes away. You live with it day in, day out, and it can have quite a detrimental effect on your life and mental health.

  • How Tassomai transformed our school
    How Tassomai transformed our school

    An online learning programme called Tassomai is playing its part in the rapid transformation of Torquay Academy. Reece Broome, who is leading the project at the school, explains.

  • Take your class on a virtual trip to Colchester Castle
    Take your class on a virtual trip to Colchester Castle

    Colchester Castle’s new digital learning programme enables your class to take part in a trip to Colchester Castle without ever leaving the classroom! Whether you are a local school in Essex, or in another part of the country, your students can immerse themselves in Colchester’s story and learn all about the mighty Romans.

  • Artistic literacy app praised for 'feel good' factor
    Artistic literacy app praised for 'feel good' factor

    If you want to use music, sound effects and visual adventures to help young pupils learn their letters, then you need to know about globetrotting Swiss musician / novelist Roland Zoss and his app ABC Dino - a resource which has already seen huge popularity in continental Europe. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"