Posted on May 20, 2015

25 students from university campuses across Education City are one step closer to becoming Qatar’s future leaders after returning from an adventurous trekking trip in the mountains of Oman. The trek formed part of the experience-based leadership development programme, ‘EBDA’, which was launched in September 2014 by Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Maersk Oil Qatar to develop Qatar’s future leaders.

Students camped for four days in the stunning Jebel Akhdar mountain range in North West Oman and took part in a variety of hands-on activities and challenges designed to test endurance and unlock personal potential.During the course students participated in high pressure simulations, needed to navigate mountainous terrain, and were responsible for making their own food and camp each day.

Mohammed El Debsa, a participating student from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, said: “It’s not easy to travel to a new country and live in the mountains for four days, but the journey to Oman totally exceeded my expectations and I feel an enormous sense of achievement. It enabled me to push myself beyond my personal limits in ways that I didn’t ever think were possible. It was a big challenge but now that it’s over, I have greater confidence that I can tackle other challenges.”

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Mousa Abuhelaiqa, another participating student from Texas A&M University at Qatar,added: “This programme provided me with a unique learning experience. From the first day I signed up for Outward Bound Oman, I was meeting other Education City students from diverse backgrounds and intellectual interests. I had to learn how to effectively cooperate with them and about tenacity and resilience – skills that I am certain will travel with me throughout my future endeavours.”

The trip, organised in partnership with Outward Bound Oman and coordinated by the Student Life team of HBKU, forms part of EBDA – a leadership development programme that focuses on building leadership skills in students through experience-based learning. EBDA - meaning start in Arabic - takes students out of the classroom environment and encourages them to gain personal skills through the experience of managing themselves, working with others and learning to lead.

Commenting on the completion of the Oman challenge, Sheikh Jassim bin Saud Al-Thani, Head of Qatarization at Maersk Oil Qatar, sponsors of EBDA, said: “At Maersk Oil Qatar, we constantly strive to develop Qatar’s future leaders and it’s wonderful to see another group of bright, talented students challenge themselves and engage in activities that promote personal development. They should all be very proud of their achievements, which will most certainly assist them in so many ways in the future. As we now come to the end of the programme’s successful first year, I urge more students to make the most of these once in a lifetime opportunities and look out for a range of exciting programmes coming up as part of EBDA’s second year.”

Al-Thani, added: “Our support of EBDA is just one of numerous education, health and environment schemes under our social investment programme - Action for Qatar – which is focused on delivering meaningful and positive benefits for the local community here in Qatar. I’m proud that through EBDA, Maersk Oil Qatar has helped hundreds of students – in just a few months – to develop personal leadership skills.”

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The 25 lucky students that embarked on the Oman adventure were chosen from over one hundred applicants for demonstrating a commitment and interest in leadership development, along with a strong track record of overcoming challenges. Ameena Hussain, Director of Student Life at Hamad bin Khalifa University – one of the key partners in delivering the programme - commented:

“This leadership-building programme in Oman marks our final activity of the academic year. We offer our congratulations to all the students involved for successfully completing such a difficult challenge and for working together and showing such impressive determination and perseverance. HBKU Student Life will continue to develop exciting experience-based leadership-building opportunities through the EBDA programme and we are looking forward to next year’s programme of events.”

EBDA now concludes its successful first year, with more than 300 students completing modules delivered in Qatar, Tanzania, Indonesia and now Oman. Since EBDA’s launch in September 2014, students from 30 nationalities have taken part in nine modules, ranging from team building challenges in Qatar, to community service work in Indonesia, to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.