Studying abroad can feel like an impossible dream for many talented students in the Middle East due to financial constraints. However, there are scholarships designed specifically for Middle Eastern students that can make that dream a reality.
In this post, we will explore the various scholarship programs and funding opportunities available for students from the Middle East to study at top universities around the world.
By researching the options and applying strategically, Middle Eastern students can gain access to a high-quality international education.
Overview of Scholarships for Middle Eastern Students
Scholarships for Middle Eastern students come from government agencies, universities, non-profit organizations, and private foundations. Some focus specifically on students from certain Middle Eastern countries, while others consider the entire region.
The most prestigious and well-funded scholarships typically require a high academic standard and proof of financial need. It is important for students to research eligibility requirements and application deadlines for each program individually.
Some keywords that frequently appear in scholarship opportunities for Middle Eastern students include:
- Undergraduate and graduate degree programs
- Fields of study like STEM, business, healthcare, arts, and humanities
- Renewable multi-year awards versus one-time grants
- Merit-based awards evaluating academic achievements
- Need-based awards also assessing an applicant’s financial situation
- Citizenship requirements for certain Middle Eastern countries
- Minimum GPA and standardized test score benchmarks
With diligent research into the various global, national, and university-level funding sources, Middle Eastern students can identify multiple scholarship options matched to their strengths, interests, and financial needs.
Government Scholarship Programs for Middle Eastern Students
Government agencies sponsor some of the most prestigious scholarship programs for citizens of Middle Eastern countries to study internationally. Here are a few notable examples:
Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM)
The SACM awards Saudi citizens highly competitive scholarships for undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees at top-ranked schools worldwide. Fields of emphasis include STEM, business, English language studies, and more. SACM scholarships are renewable and include tuition, living expenses, books, travel costs, and medical insurance. Applicants must have strong academics and English skills.
Iranian elite foundation
Iran’s Elite Foundation aims to foster global engagement among promising Iranian students and professionals. Scholarships cover costs for master’s and PhD programs in STEM fields at top-50 universities. Recipients commit to working in Iran for a designated period post-graduation. Minimum GPA and language requirements apply.
UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs
This promising initiative from the government of the United Arab Emirates provides full scholarships for Emirati citizens to earn bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees at designated partner universities around the world. Fields are open but priority areas align with UAE’s growth strategy. Recipients commit to working in the country for 2-5 years upon return.
Government scholarships represent a life-changing opportunity with fewer financial barriers. Middle Eastern students meeting the academic criteria should thoroughly explore these nationally funded programs.
University Scholarships for Middle Eastern Students
Beyond government initiatives, individual universities also offer merit-based and need-based scholarships tailored for students from the Middle East. Researching institutional scholarships remains important for expanding options and finding the best academic fit.
Certain top schools like NYU Abu Dhabi and University of Pittsburgh in Qatar maintain scholarship funds specifically for citizens of Gulf countries to enroll in high-quality yet affordable on-campus undergraduate degree programs in subjects like engineering, business, etc. Minimum entry scores are still competitive.
At the graduate level, prestigious programs like those at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Oxford provide full or partial tuition support through country-specific or more broadly applicable Middle Eastern scholarships. Fields span sciences, social sciences, and professional degrees. Prior academic excellence is expected.
Smaller endowed scholarships focus on certain Middle Eastern nationalities or even women from the region pursuing fields such as public health, education, social work, etc. Researching individual university scholarship pages and contacting international student advisors helps uncover these targeted options.
Leveraging institutional scholarships can diversify a student’s portfolio of funding sources for an international undergraduate or graduate education matching their talents and future career goals. Early research pays off immensely.
Foundation and Non-Profit Scholarships
Beyond government agencies and universities, foundations and non-profits also sponsor scholarships specifically for Middle Eastern students. Some leading examples to explore include:
Schwab Foundation Program
This highly competitive program offers full academic scholarships covering tuition, accommodation and living expenses for Middle Eastern undergraduate students to attend top liberal arts colleges across the USA. Endowed by Charles Schwab, it aims to foster international exchange and diversity on campuses.
Humanity in Action Fellowship
This prestigious fellowship provides funding for Middle Eastern and North African students pursuing master’s degrees focusing on human rights, democracy and civic engagement. Tuition support plus a living stipend allow participation in a 3-month study program in the Netherlands, Bosnia or USA.
United States Institute of Peace
USIP offers graduate level scholarships of up to $15,000 for research related to conflict resolution and negotiations topics. Students from Middle East and North Africa are encouraged to apply. Academically excellent candidates with relevant interests stand out.
Yousef Jameel Scholarship
This philanthropic program sponsored by Community Jameel awards scholarships for Middle Eastern students to complete short-term certificate courses or one-year master’s degrees at top global universities in fields like business, design, arts and sciences.
While foundation and non-profit opportunities are limited, mapping these out broadens the prospect of securing a competitive merit or need-based scholarship. Qualified Middle Eastern candidates should showcase their promise through winning applications.
Additional Funding Options
Beyond the major sources explored above, Middle Eastern students have additional avenues to fund their international education, especially in combination:
Many universities allow F-1 visa holding international students to work part-time on-campus, providing opportunities to earn up to $20,000 or more annually through jobs like research assistance, teaching support, administrative roles etc.
External Scholarship Searches
Databases like FastWeb and Scholarships.com maintain extensive scholarship listings not limited by region, country or field of study. While competitive, these broader awards expand options.
If possible, enlisting partial family contribution matched with independently sourced scholarships represents a sensible multi-pronged approach that respects individual effort as well as caregiving support systems.
For US programs, federal student loans offer fixed interest rates to international students regardless of immigration status, though repayment is limited to income-driven plans. Exploring all responsible financing paths can maximize successful enrollment.
As a last resort, well-presented online campaigns explaining one’s academic strengths and funding gaps may help appeal to alumni networks or generosity of strangers. But scholarships remain the priority.
Through creative combination of the established resources profiled along with additional funding streams, motivated Middle Eastern students have ample opportunity to actualize their global educational aspirations. Strategic long-term planning pays rich dividends.
To summarize, securing scholarships forms a realistic strategy for Middle Eastern students seeking to study internationally at distinguished universities:
- Research programs from governments, universities, foundations extensively using online databases and institution websites.
- Understand each program’s nationality requirements, minimum academic standards, field restrictions, tenure and support amounts.
- Emphasize qualifications clearly through compelling personal statements, resumes, letters of recommendation.
- Apply to multiple scholarship options matching one’s profile instead of relying on a single application.
- Pursue a combination of merit-based awards evaluating academics and need-based ones assessing financial needs.
- Consider all equalizing options from on-campus jobs to loans responsibly used alongside scholarship support.
- Start planning and preparing applications at least 6-12 months in advance of the desired enrollment term.
Through focused efforts, many deserving Middle Eastern students are able to fund prestigious international degrees paving the way for future success. With dedication and diligence, the dream of studying abroad remains very achievable.