Hamad is first Qatari to be admitted to West Point Academy in 208 years

June 8, 2010
By

Hamad Victor Agha

Hamad Victor Agha will in two weeks make history by becoming the first Qatari national to be admitted to the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point.

He had to outclass candidates from 69 students to be among only 12 non-American students who will study at the prestigious academy.

USMA usually allocates 15 seats for non-Americans each year, but this year only 12 were admitted, to maintain a balance with the unusually 18 non-Americans admitted in 2009.

Hamad, the Qatar Leadership Academy (QLA) graduate, said that he was already feeling the pressure of the special honour after he was told by a brigadier in the Qatari army: “Your failure means that we have a failing army.”

Qatar had been trying for at least seven years to send a Qatari national to USMA, but in vain, Hamad said.

Explaining his achievement to reporters in Doha, Hamad said that his high scores at QLA had allowed him to obtain a scholarship along with two other Qataris.

“We studied for a year at a college in the US that prepares students for USMA, but does not guarantee their admission,” he said. Training at the college had greatly enhanced his physical fitness as well.

“In an interview with a brigadier from West Point, I was frustrated because he gave us only 40% of a chance to enter the academy,” he said. “The level of grades and fitness required to be admitted was extremely high but I had received support from Shaikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani and my parents.”

He was ranked 14 among the non-American finalists, with two Indonesians ahead. However, recommendation letters, addressed by the president of his college and the English language and fitness departments to USMA, seemed to have played a major role in his selection.

“My English language was not competitive as well as my basketball pitch, which defines my way of throwing a grenade,” he said.

“The college president wrote in his recommendation letter that I was better than 75% of the admitted Americans at West Point.”

He said that the other two Qataris were excluded because they did not meet the required fitness level.

Hamad said that he later received a waver from the physical department at West Point.

“The waver meant that I could do it and that I would be able to pass at the USMA, ranked the world’s most difficult academy for the last two years, breaking the record of Harvard and Oxford universities,” he said.

“I can hardly sleep, the responsibility is so huge. My presence there will help boost relations between Qatar and the US.”

He explained that in two weeks, he would be heading to West Point where he would receive six weeks of military training with the US Marines.

“I have been told that passing these six weeks guarantees passing the four years at the academy,” he said.

“I have continued my fitness training in Qatar and I am reading a lot of political books.”

Hamad will be the first student at USMA at West Point wearing the Qatari flag badge on his right shoulder.

USMA, West Point, a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York, was established in 1802 and is the oldest of the US five service academies.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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