AJMAN: Today, the Stevens Initiative announced [HL1] that Ajman University is one its newest grantees to receive funding for virtual exchanges between young people in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa. Ajman University’s Actualizing Youth Mobility to Lead and Innovate in the 21st Century is one of four new Stevens Initiative-funded exchanges. Funding has been awarded to select institutions based in the UAE, including Ajman University, for virtual exchanges  that will give young people experiential learning opportunities to explore topics impacting their local and global communities.

Ajman University’s AYM: Actualizing Youth Mobility to Lead and Innovate in the 21st Century is a collaborative virtual exchange program that fosters intercultural understanding, creative collaborations, and meaningful communication among students. The program enables students to explore the everyday cultural contexts of their peers from around the world. Innovative themed prompts encourage students to voice their opinions on global concerns, engage in purposeful dialogue with their peers, and propose sustainable solutions to global issues. This stimulates critical thinking, preparing students to successfully lead and innovate in the 21st century.

“We are excited to add these new programs to a long list of unique virtual exchanges that contribute to our vision of providing an opportunity to empower young people to drive positive change for our future. Each grantee works to create the next generation of globally-minded leaders, using virtual exchange as a tool to teach young people about the world around them,” said Christine Shiau, Director of the Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute.

Virtual exchange prepares young people for their future lives and careers by exposing them to global, collaborative environments where they can develop friendships, build skills, and take on new perspectives. Together, these new virtual exchange programs will immerse young people in topics such as linguistics and the study of symbols, storytelling, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and some of the world’s most pressing global concerns.

With the addition of Ajman University, the Initiative will expand its total reach by summer 2023 to nearly 75,000 young people in 17 MENA countries and the Palestinian Territories, and in 49 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, five tribal communities, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C. Overall, 91 grantees have partnered with the Initiative between 2016 and today.

“Ajman University is delighted to partner with the Stevens Initiative in this innovative venture that uses the power of technology and global collaboration to create meaningful exchanges among youth across boundaries and cultures. Ajman University is committed to nurturing our students into leaders with a strong grasp of multiculturalism, global issues and perspectives, so that they can contribute to a sustainable future for their communities and for the world,” said Dr. Karim Seghir, Chancellor of Ajman University.

Other[HL2]  grants include:

  • American University of Sharjah's Transformative Sustainability Project (TSP) gives undergraduate college students in the United Arab Emirates and the United States the tools to transform their local and global contexts into more sustainable communities in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • American University of Sharjah’s Virtual Language Exchange provides participants in the United Arab Emirates and the United States a unique cross-cultural experience by examining diverse worldviews, languages, and cultures while critically thinking about media representations that shape their world knowledge.
  • RAK American Academy’s Scheherazade Project brings together 10th and 11th grade girls from the United Arab Emirates and the United States to explore the role their female ancestors played in their lives.

The Stevens Initiative is an international leader in virtual exchange, which brings young people from diverse places together to collaborate and connect through everyday technology. Created in 2015 as a lasting tribute to Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, the Initiative invests in virtual exchange programs between the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa; shares research, resources, and promising practices to improve impact; and advocates for broader adoption.

Ajman University was founded in 1988 as the first private university in the United Arab Emirates as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the first higher education institution to accept expatriate students. Since then it has grown into an innovative, diverse and globally-ranked university offering world-class education to both local and foreign students. Ajman University was ranked among the top 700 global universities in the recently released QS World University Rankings 2023.

Actualizing Youth Mobility to Lead and Innovate in the 21st Century is funded by the Stevens Initiative, with support from the government of the United Arab Emirates. Learn more about the Stevens Initiative, which receives support from additional funders and is administered by the Aspen Institute, at https://www.stevensinitiative.org/.


The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Washington, D.C. is committed to promoting and increasing cross-cultural understanding and educational exchanges. In line with the UAE Government’s values, the Embassy supports educational programming at schools and universities across the U.S. The Embassy works with U.S. institutions to provide unique opportunities for peer-to-peer exchanges and help broaden student’s horizons.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world.  Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.