Watch: Emirati academic Dr Eesa Mohammed Bastaki who lives by the motto ‘Made in UAE, Sold Globally’

Dubai: “Made in the United Arab Emirates, sold worldwide”.

This motto is the main inspiration of Dr. Eesa Mohammed Bastaki, a passionate Emirati professor and recipient of the UAE’s highest honor in science.

Dr. Bastaki, who has worked his way to becoming a leader in the field of communications technology and engineering, is a member of seven university councils, president of the Emirates Science Club, member of the board of directors of the Cultural Scientific Association, one of the founders of Dubai Silicon Oasis and holder of many other distinguished titles.

The 67-year-old Emirati icon is still pursuing her goals and dreams.

“My mother gave birth to me in the car on the way to the hospital in 1955. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m always in a hurry. I was looking forward to seeing the world quickly,” laughed Bastaki.

Bastaki, president of the University of Dubai, believes his greatest achievement is the establishment of Ankabut (meaning spider in English), an advanced national research and education network in the United Arab Emirates.

“In the United Arab Emirates in 2002, [telecom firm] Etisalat had a strategic plan for higher education. They interviewed me and I proposed the project. It was officially launched in 2009. It was one of my greatest achievements,” Bastaki told Gulf News.

Prestigious recognition

He was recognized by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and honored by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the Emirates Award for Excellence in Science, Literature and the Arts.

“It’s like the Nobel Prize of the United Arab Emirates. I was very proud and I can’t forget the moment when I was honored in front of all the rulers. The UAE always recognizes the achievers.

Dr. Eesa Mohammed Bastaki is very grateful to the UAE for his many accolades.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Bastaki is also a member of the International Quality Assurance Council of the University of Knowledge and Human Development Authority, honorary president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of the board of directors of Ankabut (NREN des WATER).

Children’s Days

In 1955, Bastaki’s mother was at a wedding the day before he was born. The next morning, she was due to give birth at her home in the Al Fahidi neighborhood, now a historic neighborhood.

“There were no hospitals at that time. My uncle carried her to the Abra (traditional wooden boat) to reach the Deira side of Dubai where a car was waiting to take her to the hospital. But before reaching Sharjah, I arrived,” Bastaki said.

He was born on December 25, 1955. “Since that day, I was always in a hurry, I walked fast and I ran fast.”

Bastaki lived in Al Fahidi until he was three years old, after which he moved to Kuwait with his mother. When he was seven years old, he returned to Dubai and his father sent him to India for treatment for respiratory problems.

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Dr. Bastaki says his father taught him early on that the greatest strength one can have is to tell the truth.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

All his family members were studying in India and he flew to Mumbai alone.

“On the way there was a technical problem and we had to land in Karachi [in Pakistan]. I was young and stayed in a hotel. On the second day, I arrived in Mumbai and continued my education until I was 11 years old,” he said.

He returned to Dubai on a boat in 1966 and still remembers how the city was beginning to change.

“Before, we only looked at two buildings in Deira. We did not know what the vision of our leaders was at that time.

Bastaki’s family home was on the creek side and he used to swim with others every day from Bur Dubai to Deira.

Having learned to read, write and speak in English, he studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Dubai.

“I was always first in school. We used to play football and other traditional games and I would finish my homework before I went to play,” he said, adding that he was also teaching his classmates.

“I remember when I was giving lectures to them. I would go to the airport where there was a street light and study under that light.

union witness

Bastaki fondly remembers the Union of Emirates in 1971.

“It was a great feeling to have our own independent country. We were young but you could see the impact of the Union on the faces of adults. They were talking about it in the majlis [gatherings] and everywhere.

Among the first to be sent to the United States

He said the visionary Sheikh Zayed always talks about educating and empowering people.

When the United Arab Emirates began sending students abroad for scholarships, Bastaki was among the first to be sent to the United States.

“We were 35 students on a plane heading to the United States with big dreams,” he recalls.

Bastaki went to Denver in the US state of Colorado to study English before enrolling in electrical engineering at the University of California. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications.

“I have a passion for telecommunications. I obtained a master’s degree from the University of California and a doctorate from the University of California at Irvine, before returning to my country.

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The University of Dubai has been at the forefront of many innovations under the leadership of Dr. Bastaki.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Career in the UAE

Bastaki started his career in the United Arab Emirates as a teaching assistant at the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain in 1989.

“I retired from UAE University and later became one of the founders of Dubai Silicon Oasis. In 2013, the president of Dubai University called me, asking me to to be president of the University,” Bastaki said.

He added that Dubai University is a quality university but people were unaware of its high standards. “My job was to go to the market and explain how the university provided a top quality education.”

Bastaki recruited “the best professors and talents” for the faculty of engineering, which allowed the university to benefit from international and academic accreditation in different specializations.

Innovation, sustainability in the foreground

“At the University of Dubai, I started the technology center innovation. We have different laboratories. Each student not only gets a college degree, but also sub-skills, lifelong learning, and graduate start-ups,” he added.

Bastaki said the university has many new futuristic programs, alongside several niche labs such as that of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Huawei.

Additionally, it hosts the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) laboratory where researchers collect and analyze MBRSC data. One of the university’s unique projects is the solar farm – 15,000 square meters of solar panels that produce 2 megawatts to cover campus needs.

“The campus was built as a smart and green campus. Solar energy covers all the needs of the university. We feed the DEWA grid with electricity,” Bastaki said.

The campus has been awarded a Net Zero Energy Campus Leed Certificate and a Net Zero Water Certificate.

“There is no carbon footprint at the university. We are the first university in the world to receive Leed certificates. We recycle everything at the university. I care about clean energy.

Bastaki’s extensive experience in the fields of education, leadership, technology and communications has proven to be a major asset in leading the university into its next progressive phase, which includes several programs such as a master’s degree. in law and a doctorate in business administration.

Advice for young people

Bastaki wants to set up a microchip manufacturing unit.

“My goal is to help leaders achieve their vision of being a sustainable country even after oil. ‘Made in the UAE, sold worldwide’ means that we not only need to transfer technology, but also transfer knowledge,” he said.

“Now we are designing our own space satellites in the UAE. That’s what I like to do.

He encourages people not to stop when they fail at something and to keep chasing their dreams.

“If you fail at something, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Never underestimate your abilities. Everyone can participate in the economic dynamic. My advice is to educate yourself all the time because everyone can add value to society,” he said.

Bastaki’s father gave him some golden advice. “My father told me that the strongest thing in the world is the truth. If you tell the truth, you will be successful all your life.

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