Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship

Generously supported by a gift from the Government of the United Arab Emirates, the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship is a collaboration between the Middle East Initiative (MEI), the Center for Public Leadership (CPL), and Executive Education at Harvard Kennedy School. It provides advanced training in public management and leadership development to emerging public and private sector leaders from the United Arab Emirates and the broader Arab region.

Now more than ever, modern leadership requires the ability to work across cultures and sectors — to think globally and act locally. The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship equips students with the tools to be a powerful force for change in an evolving global arena.

The Fellowship is part of the Emirates Leadership Initiative, a research and curricular collaboration between the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) and the Middle East Initiative (MEI) at HKS, and the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Program Manager: Saida Abdalla

Abdulla Saif

“The ELI experience cultivated within me a new paradigm of leadership based on the values of self-reflection, genuine connection and emotional vulnerability. The introspective experience allowed me to better understand my own values- which in turn gave me the drive to initiative my own endeavours (such as youth mentorship and data-driven policy), and inspire others to partake of them.”

— Abdulla Saif, MPA-ID 2021


Applications for the 2022-2023 cycle are now closed. Check back in Fall 2022 for details on the 2023-2024 application process.


Interviews: Finalists for the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship will be interviewed in late February 2022 by members of the ELI Fellowship Selection Committee.

Note: Before submitting your application, we expect that you have thoroughly reviewed all pertinent information related to the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship, including but not limited to: program requirements, eligibility information, and the background and purpose of the fellowship, including the history and background of the donor. Being a CPL fellow carries with it certain responsibilities including maintenance of good academic standing as required by your degree program; attendance at all fellowship programming for the entire duration of the fellowship; leading program sessions and service activities and responsible conduct in representing CPL and Harvard University. Please visit our Fellows FAQs page for more information.

Commitment to Nondiscrimination: As a matter of commitment, policy, and law, Harvard Kennedy School does not discriminate on the basis of gender, gender identity, color, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, intellectual focus, disability, or veteran status. The School strongly believes diversity enhances the value of all its activities, from research and teaching to degree programs and public events. The School encourages applications from candidates who are interested in careers in public service and acknowledges a special responsibility to train effective leaders in public policy and management.

Program Information


The fellowship provides:

  • Full-tuition scholarship, health care fees, a living stipend and support for professional development opportunities. Joint or concurrent degree students are eligible for a different financial aid package depending on their school in residence.

  • A comprehensive co-curricular leadership development program

  • Most importantly, a network of exceptional peers and mentors who will enhance your ability to impact the communities you serve

The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship provides a full tuition scholarship, health insurance, and living stipend for up to ten fellows per academic year. Fellowships will be awarded to candidates from the United Arab Emirates and from other Arab League member states.

The program’s value proposition extends, however, beyond financial support: fellows will also come together regularly—both as a cohort and with the broader pool of CPL fellows—for dinners, speakers, retreats and other experiential learning opportunities. This co-curricular program is designed to enrich the fellows’ academic experience, develop leadership skills, and build lasting ties that serve them beyond their years at HKS.

The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship is open to admitted degree program students at Harvard Kennedy School who are citizens of a country within the Arab League; applicants will be considered based on their demonstrated interest in developing their leadership and public management skills in these countries. Successful candidates will also demonstrate excellent academic credentials, a deep commitment to public service, and strong leadership potential in the Middle East.

The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellows are a part of the Center for Public Leadership’s community of graduate fellows and will be required to participate in an enriching co-curricular experience designed to enhance their skills and engage their development as emerging leaders of the Arab world. The co-curricular program typically includes a welcome retreat, a weekly series of speakers, workshops and seminars, as well as opportunities to connect with other Center for Public Leadership fellows and alumni.

The Fellows will create a vibrant network of students and alumni committed to advancing knowledge, collaborating on solutions to pressing public policy problems, and building leadership capacity in their communities, their nation, and the world.