(CNN) -- This month on Inside the Middle East, CNN travels to explore the constantly-expanding city of Abu Dhabi and talk to Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education. Meanwhile, CNN Special Corrrespondent Philippe Cousteau embarks on his first visit to the Middle East and Schams Elwazer visits the Abu Dhabi Science Festival.
Inside Abu Dhabi
Recently marking its 40th national day, the UAE is a young country that has developed exponentially in the few decades since oil was discovered. We look at Abu Dhabi's growth from palm leaf huts to landmarks like Yas Island, Emirates Palace, and Sheikh Zayed mosque. The city hosts events as varied as the Formula One grand prix and the World Future Energy Summit. Reflecting on how far Abu Dhabi has come, Minister of Higher Education Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan gives IME a rare interview.
Planting the Science Seed
Imagine unwrapping a mummy, digging up a dinosaur or watching a tornado whirl inside a soap bubble. That is exactly what thousands of excited children ages 5-5 were doing at the Abu Dhabi Science Festival. Fun and games aside, the goal is to encourage kids to fall in love with science and technology. Currently 80% of public high school students choose the liberal arts track over science. Schams Elwazer tells us how the "magic" of science such as diet cola fountains and cube-shaped bubbles are actually a long-term investment in human resources.
Finding Green in the Desert
As an oil producing country, the United Arab Emirates has one of the world's highest per capita carbon footprints, but there is more green here than one would expect. Thirteen percent of Abu Dhabi Emirate is designated as protected areas, including the marine habitats of endangered sea turtles and the desert home of the Arabian Oryx. The city recently hosted the Eye on Earth summit where we meet up with environmental advocate and CNN Special Correspondent Philippe Cousteau on his first trip to the Middle East.
Campus Forum: Zayed University
We visit Zayed University, one of the country's main public universities. A landmark building made of curved steel and glass, the design of this new campus was inspired by desert dunes. The university was founded in 1998 with an all-female student body, but is now home to more than 7000 students of both sexes. At the end of a year where the youth of the region have literally made history, we ask students of this politically stable country to share their thoughts in our Campus Forum.
Watch the January show at the following times:
Wednesday 4 January: 1030, 1730 Saturday 7 January: 1730, 1930 Sunday 8 January: 1430 Saturday 14 January: 1230 Sunday 15 January: 0530, 1930 (all times GMT)