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Education Without Borders Conference Opens In Dubai

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
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The 6th Biennial Education Without Borders 2011 (EWB 2011) international student conference officially opened last night in a glittering ceremony at the Burj Island Park in Dubai.

The 10th anniversary of the world-renowned education conference was officially opened in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The opening speech was delivered by Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor, Higher Colleges of Technology.

In his address Sheikh Nahayan said the conference reflected the comprehensive development of the UAE characterized by education, innovation and initiative, thanking Sheikh Mohammed for his support.

"In light of his keenness to strengthen the role of youth in the world development process and instill leadership qualities in them as they are the tool of change for the betterment of society. It is our collective duty to provide them with all opportunities for dialogue and discussion so as to ensure their interaction and communication across borders and distances, addressing all issues and challenges intelligently and being constantly a source of goodness and giving for their countries and the whole world," Sheikh Nahayan said.

In keeping with the epic proportions of the Burj Khalifa the EWB conference ceremony will feature a 60m-long interactive screen which will have the audience of more than 2000 dignitaries, world leaders in business, academics, government, the environment and society, students and guests in awe of the technology on show in the 2-hour presentation.

The show will be a powerful mix of traditional Emirati culture, music and performances and an array of international highlights in a visual and aural spectacular. A feature of the opening ceremony extravaganza was the breath-taking horse show, featuring Arabian thoroughbreds performing to pulsating music, a dynamic and futuristic light show and a show-stopping fireworks show. It also featured World Student Organizing Committee members Maddie Kane (New York University), Allan Babor (University of Waterloo), Amira Choueiki (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Lotifa Begum (University College London) welcoming guests and speaking about the program.

One of the outstanding performances during the evening was the record breaking feat by internationally famous solo rock and sky scraper climber Alain Robert, dubbed "The French Spiderman", will create history in a daring seven-hour ascent of the 828m-tall building.

Alain Robert, 48, who has been climbing since his teenage years has scaled more than 100 of the world's tallest buildings, often without the aid of safety harnesses, scaled the exterior of the Burj Khalifa as part of EWB 2011.

M. Robert has been given approval to climb the Burj Khalifa with a safety harness and in doing so he will reacquaint himself with the EWB conferences. As part of the 2003 EWB conference Robert climbed the 173-metre National Bank of Abu Dhabi building, watched by almost 100,000 spectators. That was his first climbing foray with the EWB conferences, returning for 2005 event where he climbed the 160-metre Etisalat building in Abu Dhabi. For the 2007 EWB he climbed the 185-metre ADIA building, also in Abu Dhabi.

Although M. Robert suffers from vertigo, sustained through climbing falls, his true passion remains in climbing and he sees the Burj Khalifa as the ultimate urban challenge in his career to date. He is also an accomplished motivational speaker, proving that will power can conquer many setbacks and restrictions.

"This is a dream to do this (climb) and I am very thankful and honoured that the UAE let me climb the tallest building in the world. I am breaking my record and it's a new challenge," M. Robert said.

But there was also a strong message for people and onlookers to consider as he attempts the climb.

"In life everything is about crossing borders, but too many people have limited vision and do not try. They are not living they are surviving, but they need to move forward with positive thoughts," he said.

"I am just a human being and have fear all the time. But it is up to your own mind to believe in will power, so if you set up your mind for a goal you can do it." Dr. Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chancellor, Higher Colleges of Technology and Chairman of the EWB Conference, said Alain Robert was a great inspiration to all attending EWB 2011.

"Alain Robert is a firm believer of using your inner strength and determination to achieve your goals in life, which is strongly reflected in the philosophy of Education Without Borders. His climb will be a wonderful and memorable way to celebrate the start of the 10th anniversary of the EWB conference,"," Dr Kamali said.

For this unique four-day conference, nearly 4000 students representing 130 nationalities competed to participate. More than 700 conference papers were submitted addressing the conference theme "Innovative Solutions to Global Challenges: Diverse Perspectives, Unified Action".

The conference also brings together accomplished world leaders as well as rising stars from the fields of business, government, sports, science, culture, media and the like to mentor and inspire these young students. The mentors include The Right Honorable Tony Blair, Quartet Representative to the Middle East & Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Dr. Mark Plotkin, President, Amazon Conservation Team, CNN Hero Evan Wadongo, Yolande Kakabadse, President, WWF International, and young writer and speaker Adora Svitak, among others.

An associated event, the EWB World Forum, will be convened at the Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa in Dubai on the second day of the conference, where Heads of State, business executives, and other influential thought leaders from around the world will meet to discuss the impact of globalization on education and capacity development.