Dyslexia in the United Arab Emirates University – A Study of Prevalence in English and Arabic

  •  Rima Aboudan    
  •  Valsamma Eapen    
  •  Maryam Bayshak    
  •  Mouza Al-Mansouri    
  •  Marwa Al-Shamsi    


Background: A steadily increasing number of students with dyslexia are entering higher education internationally. If identified early, they can be helped to adapt and cope with their difficulties and acquire the skills they need to reach their full potential. English speaking countries have recently started to research dyslexia in higher education. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), generic research on dyslexia has, until today, been limited. Methods: This study investigated the prevalence of dyslexia among female students attending the UAE University during the academic year 2007/2008. The study also explored the language in which dyslexic-features are evident, whether it is Arabic - the students’ mother-tongue, or English - the students’ second language, or both, as well as the association if any with the students’ choice of subjects of study. Results: Our findings suggest that the prevalence of features consistent with dyslexia is 17.6% among female Emirati University students, that they experience these difficulties in both English and Arabic, and that they tend to choose courses that are more job-oriented. Conclusion: Our findings confirm the occurrence of dyslexia among higher education students in the UAE and highlight the need for systematic screening programs for dyslexia. The present data also suggests that despite differences in the linguistic contexts of English and Arabic, dyslexia crosses language boundaries.

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