H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the United States (US) is an alum and graduate of the class of 1991 at Cairo American College (CAC). He originally began his diplomatic career as Senior Advisor and Director of International Affairs for Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Now at the UAE Embassy in Washington DC, he has played a major role in enhancing UAE-US relations in trade and economic development, humanitarian relief and cultural exchange. In 2020, the Ambassador's diplomatic efforts were recognized with his inclusion on the TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. He has also been instrumental with the embassy’s UAE USA United campaign, which works to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the UAE and US through a future-oriented vision.
In 2017 Al Otaiba was elevated to Emirati Minister of State 2017 by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He also serves on the Leadership Council for the Harvard Kennedy School, the Board of Trustees for the American University in Cairo and the Board of Directors for the Special Olympics. Al Otaiba supports numerous philanthropic organizations as an ambassador and as a private citizen. He oversees the UAE Embassy’s Community Soccer Program, which partners with local schools and Major League Soccer teams to build fields for underserved youth across the US.
Reflecting on Al Otaiba’s Time at CAC
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba has countless great memories to share with us about his wonderful time at CAC. “Growing up during the 80’s in Cairo and attending one of the best, if not the best school in the Middle East is something I only truly appreciated later in life,” Al Otaiba explained. “CAC was far more than just a first class educational experience. It was sports, arts, CACMUN, after school activities, and most importantly, lifelong friendships. Whether it was studying for a test (that I was inadequately prepared for) or mentally preparing for our next soccer game, CAC constantly triggers happy memories,” he added.
As we spoke to Ambassador Al Otaiba, we could not help but notice how fondly he remembered his time at CAC in Egypt. He spoke to us about having spent his childhood in a fun and safe environment, where he was able to form strong bonds with his teammates on sports trips, and at the international school. “There were also school dances, which I occasionally DJ’ed.That’s right, when my DJ career failed I opted for diplomacy,” added the UAE Ambassador.
Al Otaiba further added, “One anecdote that I think is very interesting is about one year ago two of our friends started a whatsapp group chat for a contingent of the class of 91 alumni. Let me just say that this group has been nothing but non stop entertainment, a support mechanism, a way to immediately feel better during tough times, and truly one of the best things we’ve all experienced in 2020.”
Al Otaiba's Involvement at CAC
The CAC alum was an active student who took part in different activities from CACMUN to working backstage with the Drama Production team. He also recalls his involvement in many different sports activities, which he says have played a huge factor in who he has become today, “I remember our fierce battles against the French (Les Blue) school and the British School (the biscuits). We almost always beat every school we played with. But the Egyptian clubs gave us a run for our money.”
These are just a few of the many great memories that our alumni share with us during their time at CAC. We look forward to hearing from our alumni around the world all they have to say about their memories here.