At the recently concluded DSEI 2019 in London, Rabdan Academy was a part of the UAE pavilion. The Academy is an Abu Dhabi-government owned university and training establishment that specialises in safety, security, defence, emergency preparedness and crisis management sectors in a cross-government setup.

By: Sakha Pramod

On the sidelines of the show, James Anthony Morse CB, Rear Admiral and Rabdan Academy President, told Nation Shield: “I am here to tell people at the Exhibition what the Academy is doing in Abu Dhabi, because there isn’t anything quite like our Academy elsewhere in the world. I have a great opportunity to tell senior defence and security officials about our vision and mission, and why it is important.”

Morse explained: “For example, we have military personnel training alongside the police and other government entities. We are trying to assist prepare all those entities to work together and face the security and defence challenges of the future as a team. A cross-government response is an essential element of success and the importance of interagency cooperation is a key lesson from previous events.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces vision for Rabdan Academy is to lead the security and defence training and education effort in a cross-government setup. The Academy hosts several programmes such as Bachelor’s degree in homeland security and Master’s degrees in subjects such as Intelligence Analysis and Policing and Security Leadership. Most of the academic programmes are conducted in English.

“We offer top-quality courses; for example, the competition to get into our Master’s of Intelligence Analysis is tough, as it is a world-class programme,” he added.

The Academy also hosts several vocational short courses for government entities in the field of safety, security and defence. Morse said: “That’s an area of business that has grown dramatically over the last few years. We are also working with several entities as an “agent to assist change”, where they are looking to refine the way they view training and education, including certification and national recognition. The Academy is doing a lot of work with government entities to assist them in that process. Ultimately, we want to contribute to a well-educated, fully trained Emirati workforce with nationally recognised certification, with portable skills between different areas and entities including the private sector.” 

About 25 per cent of the Academy’s faculty is Emirati and it also has an international spread of instructors who bring a global perspective, drawing on best practices from around the world and tailored for the UAE.

Focus on Teamwork

The UAE government and federal entities or the Abu Dhabi government sponsor most of Rabdan Academy’s students, along with some self-funding students.

“For instance, the Armed Forces and Abu Dhabi Police are big stakeholders. We also work with different ministries such as the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior, and the Supreme Council for National Security, among others. It is a wide range of stakeholders and for me, that is important, as I want as many of those entities to work together as possible because ultimately it is that teamwork that is going to be successful,” emphasised Morse. “We plan to hopefully attract more regional students and then expand into a more global approach in the due course.”

At the Academy, you will find a policeman sitting next to a military officer and by the time they finish their degree or course they know each other and have a network of colleagues and friends. This assist in building strong relationships between all these organisations. 

Morse passionately shared that the Academy is looking forward to training and educating young people and preparing them for challenges that are not yet known. “The world is changing so fast that by the time students finish a programme, the challenges they face will have evolved and so must the graduates’ mind-set. That’s part of the excitement and why we try to identify the changes and focus on enduring skills, such as critical thinking, leadership and analysis,” he concluded.

Rabdan Academy is six-years-old, was formed by Royal decree and is steadily enlarging in the number of students choosing its academic programmes. It is also growing very fast in the vocational space. Its aim is to continue that path of growth and to offer more academic courses and programmes, achieve the highest possible standards and identify training and education needs of stakeholders in the future.