Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholarship Programme to Support Five Outstanding Students

The Abraaj Group and the Royal College of Art yesterday launched the largest international scholarship programme in the creative postgraduate sector, ensuring five outstanding individuals from India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey will receive full payment of their tuition fees as well as living expenses

Each year for the next five years, Abraaj will support five outstanding individuals from across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Turkey and Central Asia as each pursues his or her creative aspirations at the RCA. The ground-breaking initiative will foster opportunity, empower potential, and provide contemporary practitioners with the resources they need to develop their talent. 

Each student will be enrolled full-time in Master of Arts programmes in design and the arts. The first cohort of scholars from India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Thailand, and Turkey begin their studies this month and will receive full payment of their tuition fees as well as living expenses.

The mission of the Abraaj scholarship programme is to create a unique community of creative leaders who share the values, integrity, and social responsibility upheld by Abraaj and the RCA. They will in turn use the transformative powers of their RCA education to positively impact the life and culture of their home countries.

Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive of the Abraaj Group, said: 'Since inception, The Abraaj Group has been committed to empowering talent and entrepreneurship to stimulate job creation in the markets in which we invest. The partnership with the Royal College of Art is another effort in this direction, noting that 67 per cent of RCA graduates go on to start their own businesses in the field of art and design. The Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholarship will encourage graduates to apply their innovative and entrepreneurial skills for the benefit of their communities in their home countries.'

The first cohort of scholars have been selected by a world class panel of experts, including; Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art; contemporary artist Yinka Shonibare MBE; Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO and Professor Juan Cruz, Dean of the School of Fine Art, RCA.

Sheroy Katila, a product designer from India, joins the Innovation Design Engineering progamme; Ermina Takenova, an animator from Kazakhstan (and the first Kazakhstani student ever to enrol at the RCA) joins the Animation progamme; Julieta Cortés Garcia, a ceramic artist from Mexico joins Ceramics & Glass; Burachat Ratanasuwan, a textile designer from Thailand joins the Textiles programme; and Derya Adiyaman, a curator from Turkey, will join History of Design

The launch event, held at the RCA in Kensington, was attended by Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Mr Arif Naqvi, Founder and Group Chief Executive of The Abraaj Group and Dr Paul Thompson, Rector of the Royal College of Art, as well as leading figures from the art and design communities, financial, political and philanthropic arenas.

Commenting on the scholarship programme, Right Honourable Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: 'The Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholarship is... helping to allow a generation of talent access to the very best education at one of the finest art and design colleges in the world. I hope the Scholars will go on to become cultural pioneers not just in their own communities but across the globe.'