Generously supported by a gift from the Government of the United Arab Emirates, the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship is a collaboration between the Center for Public Leadership, the Middle East Initiative 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.

Download the Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship one pager.

  1. Apply to the Harvard Kennedy School.
  2. Applicants for the Emirates Leadership Initiative fellowship must submit through the financial aid portal:
  • A biographical profile, not to exceed 150 words (This profile should be short, concise and in the third person.) Please include the following highlights: an introductory sentence including your name; the degree you are pursuing at Harvard Kennedy School in addition to any joint degree at Harvard or concurrent degree program at another graduate or professional institution; where you are from and where you currently reside; an overview and highlights of your relevant work/professional experience; significant leadership achievements including awards or certifications; and educational credentials with the degrees earned and institutions attended.)
  • A document containing written responses to the following two essay prompts:
    • Please discuss a topic you are passionate about as it pertains to leadership in the Arab world and your experiences as it relates to this topic. Please include specific examples in your response (500 words or less).
    • Please describe areas of leadership growth or opportunity you hope to pursue while a student at HKS (200 words or less).

Selection: Finalists for the Emirates Leadership Initiative fellowship will be interviewed in late February by members of the fellowship selection committee.

Upon admission to HKS, applicants will be notified if they are selected for the Emirates Leadership Initiative fellowship.


The fellowship provides:

  • Financial support toward a master’s degree program at Harvard Kennedy School plus professional development opportunities
  • A comprehensive co-curricular program to augment your leadership development
  • 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 the academic year. Financial support is only provided for the cost of attendance at HKS.



The Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship is open to newly-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.



Fellows will participate in a yearlong co-curricular program designed by Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. This not-for-credit program is intended to inspire, to provide concrete opportunities for leadership skill-building, and to connect fellows with an interdisciplinary network of like-minded peers and mentors that will last a lifetime. The fellowship co-curricular program includes dinner seminars, an annual retreat, and experiential learning grounded in discussions with visionary leaders whose work has had significant impact in the world. The program will also focus on strengthening the capacity for public leadership through reflection, mentorship, and skill building.

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, the Arab world, and globally.

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. 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 Fellowship 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 manager

HKS shield.

Saida Abdalla