How 42 Abu Dhabi’s gamified peer-to-peer learning model is revolutionising education

A revolutionary concept that empowers students to chart their own course as entrepreneurs and technology innovators

Inside a sleek, stylishly fashionable industrial unit in Abu Dhabi’s Mina district, students are learning to code under a transformative approach to education that is turning traditional learning on its head.

Forget tuition fees. Forget classrooms. And, yes, forget teachers. 42 Abu Dhabi is a ‘zero tuition, zero classes, zero teachers’ coding school that aims to prepare a new generation of ‘future-ready’ workforce in the UAE. Best of all, applicants don’t even need a background in coding to join the school – you only need to be above 18 years old and possess drive and determination to succeed.

It’s a revolutionary concept for sure, and one that empowers students to chart their own course as entrepreneurs and technology innovators.

“42 Abu Dhabi reflects Abu Dhabi government’s commitment to fostering a digitally aware and technology-driven generation of young professionals who are able to push the boundaries of digital innovation,” Marcos Muller-Habig, CEO of 42 Abu Dhabi, tells Yalla Abu Dhabi in an exclusive interview.

“With the support of our wise leadership and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, the emirate has proven to be quite attractive for younger generations who are looking to enrich their learning experiences,” adds Marcos. “This is where 42 Abu Dhabi’s role comes into play as a talent incubator that is upskilling coders to enable them to contribute to developing and designing advanced technologies that will accelerate the emirate’s digital transformation.”


The learning environment


Coding school 42 Abu Dhabi

42 Abu Dhabi was founded in 2019 through a collaboration between the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge and École 42, a renowned coding school in France.

In lieu of teachers and classrooms, 42 Abu Dhabi adopts an unconventional gamified peer-to-peer, project-based learning model whereby students learn by working collaboratively on coding projects and solving real-world problems.

The focus on peer-to-peer learning is key to the 42 Abu Dhabi philosophy.

As students work together, the school creates an environment where knowledge and skills are shared freely, allowing everyone to benefit. Students have access to specially equipped coding labs with iMac computers to complete their projects. There is also an online learning portal where students can continue to work on their projects from outside the school.


How to join the programme


Coding school 42 Abu Dhabi

Getting onboard starts with students being asked to literally play games designed to test their memory and logic. All the successful applicants will then take on an intensive four-week programme called the ‘Piscine’ to assess their aptitude in coding. Surviving the Piscine will qualify students into the full programme, which starts with the Core phase, where students will learn coding fundamentals over a period of 12-18 months.

Once students complete the Core phase, they will undergo four to six months of internship before moving on to the ‘Mastery’ phase, which takes about three years to complete.


From students to tech entrepreneurs


Coding school 42 Abu Dhabi

42 Abu Dhabi has forged partnerships with some of the world ’s leading tech and investment companies, including Mubadala Investment Company, Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, Department of Government Support, Microsoft and BEACON RED, to provide students with internship and sponsorship opportunities.

Leveraging these strategic partnerships, many students also get career paths and full-time employment even before completing the programme. Around a third of graduates of 42 Network ’s more than 20 schools worldwide have pursued their own tech start-ups, with 42 providing mentorship and guidance. Marcos is confident 42 Abu Dhabi will likewise nurture a new breed of tech entrepreneurs as it welcomes its first cohort of graduates this year.

“42 Abu Dhabi provides students with the resources and guidance they need to succeed as entrepreneurs,” he says. “This has encouraged many of our students to develop their own business ideas and launch applications that can solve real-life challenges.”


A school for all learners


Marcos describes the response to 42 Abu Dhabi’s peer-to-peer learning model as “overwhelming”, with the school attracting people from all walks of life. “Since its launch in October 2021, 42 Abu Dhabi has enrolled 475 students, including 137 UAE national students,” says Marcos, who is particularly proud of the impressive number of female students at the school.

The school has 162 female students, representing 34 per cent of the school’ s population, with 81 being Emirati female coders. “The ratio of female to male coders at 42 Abu Dhabi is one of the highest across all the 42 Network schools, and that itself is an incredible achievement for us and further accelerates our efforts to foster an educational ecosystem that enables women to thrive and succeed in tech fields,” says Marcos.

Crucially, the revolutionary coding school is empowering a new generation of tech-savvy innovators, who will drive the digital economy forward. “The school has paved the way to building a generation equipped with specialised knowledge and expertise, especially in the fields of digital transformation, digital economy, and entrepreneurship, which top the UAE priorities as accelerators to the transition to a sustainable digital economy.”


For more information and to apply for the 42 Abu Dhabi programme, visit 42abudhabi.ae

Follow Yalla – Abu Dhabi Life for more educational stories across the capital

Image source 42 Abu Dhabi


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