It was a foregone conclusion that Ahmed Mohamed would not be returning to Irving’s MacArthur High School. Five weeks ago, the fourteen-year-old was handcuffed and suspended when a homemade contraption he brought to school was mistaken for a bomb—despite the fact that the freshman told anyone who asked that it was, in fact, just a clock.
As the story made national headlines, the country quickly fell along predictable lines: Liberals embraced Ahmed, castigating the school and police and making #StandWithAhmed trend on Twitter. Meanwhile, conservatives insisted that his tiny clock sure did look like a bomb to them, and suggested that perhaps he masterminded this hoax for attention.
If that was the plan, it worked. Ahmed ended up visiting the White House by personal invitation of President Obama, and Facebook, NASA, and Google rolled out the red carpet for him to tour their facilities. But the other side of the culture war saw the boy as someone who must be exposed. Famed British scientist Richard Dawkins posted a series of tweets questioning Ahmed’s motives, and countless YouTube videos were dedicated to proving that it was a second-rate clock, and that Ahmed is a fraud.
All of this means, at the very least, that Ahmed has been going through a very dramatic shift (on top of the inherently dramatic teenage years). And Tuesday, the Mohamed family announced another big change: They’re moving to Qatar, where Ahmed will study at the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
“Our family has been overwhelmed by the many offers of support we have received since the unfortunate incident of Ahmed’s arrest,” the Mohamed family said in the release. “From the White House to Sudan, to Mecca, we have been welcomed by a variety of individuals, businesses and educational institutions.”
According to his family, Ahmed will be enrolled in the Qatar Foundation’s “Young Innovators” program and his whole family will relocate with him to Qatar.
“Qatar was a cool place to visit. I loved the city of Doha because it’s so modern. I saw so many amazing schools there, many of them campuses of famous American universities,” said Ahmed in the news release. “The teachers were great. I think I will learn a lot and have fun too.”‘
Ahmed is right to note that he’s got a lot of options in Qatar—he could live there through his early twenties and still graduate with a degree from Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Georgetown, or Texas A&M, which all have campuses there.
His future is still being written, of course. Although there’s a lot of speculation as to whether or not he’s a genius-level inventor or just a bright kid who got in trouble for surprising reasons, he’ll be in a position to build on his talents and nurture his interests in a place where a name like Ahmed Mohamed isn’t going to make him stand out the way that it did in Irving. And after a five-week tour of the world and a curious brush with fame, being one of many Ahmeds at his new school might be exactly what the boy needs. The rest can figure itself out in time, the way it does with every other fourteen-year-old.