Nobody can forecast the future. But with its recent Futureneers initiative, the UAE’s Government Development and the Future Office is trying its best. The initiative brings together some of the brightest young Emirati minds to design solutions for the UAE’s biggest future challenges. And one of the select few on the team? NYU Abu Dhabi’s very own Thani AlMheiri, Class of 2023.

UAE Futureneer and NYU Abu Dhabi student Thani AlMheiri.
Building a Foundation at NYU Abu Dhabi

Thani, a Philosophy major, credits NYU Abu Dhabi with helping him dream big and develop his ambitions, skills that have proved critical as a Futureneer. After coming to NYU Abu Dhabi, he says, “My educational scope expanded dramatically thanks to the diverse and deep range of disciplines offered in its liberal arts curriculum.” He took part in the Academic Enrichment Program, which helps prepare Emirati students to succeed at NYU. The program focuses on developing qualitative, linguistic, and argumentation skills through three thematically integrated courses. Additionally, it provides robust mentorship for students as they transition to the University.

“The team of professors and educators were the best, and I owe them a very special thank you. Without them, I wouldn’t have learned to think across disciplines and see the world from multiple perspectives,” says Thani. “The program was the first step in my Futureneers journey. I started reading about philosophy and government, and that’s how I built my passion.”

Students of color in a lecture hall.
Exploring Government and Philosophy

Professor Matthew Silverstein’s Tolerance course cemented Thani’s newfound interest in ethics and politics. “The course taught me about the many views of religious toleration and how government involvement affects religious practice,” he says. He was hooked: “It really solidified my interest in government and philosophy, which led to my role as a Futureneer. Today, I hope to become a lawyer or philosophy professor and turn my education into practical service to better my growing country.”

An overhead view of the NYU Abu Dhabi Library.
Students walking on the NYU Abu Dhabi campus.
Looking Toward Tomorrow

As a Futureneer, Thani is already doing just that. Working with others in his cohort, he is confidently envisioning a vivid and optimistic future for the UAE. And as he does so, he envisions an optimistic future for himself and other young people in the country. “I believe the UAE can become an innovative green hub and, eventually, a carbon-free society. Education will be available to everyone, and everyone will contribute what they learn back to society,” he affirms. “I want this to be a place where pioneers can come and try out their craziest ideas, ones that would never be possible anywhere else. In an ideal future, the UAE would be the center of the world for turning the most innovative ideas into tangible products.”