Student stories

Dissolving geographical borders through Kinesiology in Abu Dhabi

Faris Al Zaabi

Abu Dhabi Sports Council

By Faris Al Zaabi

I completed my third and final co-op term as a School Activities Officer at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This was my second nonconsecutive term with the council, only this time I worked in the Community Sports division under the School Sports department instead of the Technical Affairs Division. Some of my responsibilities included synthesizing a physical fitness assessment manual for private and public schools in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, and submitting monthly statistics about the development of school and college sports. My co-op term allowed me to further develop and understand my competencies. As such, I developed my research and analysis skills by examining ways to develop physical literacy among Emirati students and ensure they are armed with the tools to lead an active life.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (2014) the United Arab Emirates is ranked 16th worldwide, with 19% of the population living with Type 2 Diabetes. Absenteeism and health expenditure are likely to continue rising if this persists and physical literacy is not developed from a young age. The good news is that Type 2 Diabetes is a preventative lifestyle disease. Awareness, asset identification, and a call to action are some of the ways to tackle this issue. As an undergraduate student in the Kinesiology program, I was able to draw on the sciences of Kinesiology to educate students about healthy, active choices, and the fundamentals of movement.

The Co-op program at the University of Victoria helped me bridge theory and practice, but above all embrace cross-cultural differences. The information age has dissolved geographical boundaries and paved the way for globalization. Co-op has given me the flexibility to explore pressing issues in Kinesiology in a global context and expand my professional network. With respect to my home, the United Arab Emirates, I feel more connected to the vision envisaged by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and understand that the future growth of the United Arab Emirates in Exercise Science requires a long term, sustainable, and comprehensive plan. I am excited to see what the future has to offer and look forward to transferring my knowledge to successive generations and build on the efforts of those that preceded us.

More about Exercise science, physical and health education co-op