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by Azmat Haroon
At the age of four years and two months, Mursi Khalid Mursi Saleh of Sudan scored an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) level of 168, the highest ever recorded in the history of Sudan.
Test scores of his intelligence placed him above Beethoven and Albert Einstein, who had IQ of 165 and 160 respectively. In a report, Dr Omer Haroon Al Khalifa, Secretary-General of the Sudanese Psychological Society, called him an “extraordinary” or “miraculous” child.
“This sample of children are called Children with Special Talents, which is why they need special psychological, educational, social and financial care,” AlKhalifa said.
In 2006, Mursi moved to Qatar with his family, and began studying on an open scholarship from H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser at Qatar Academy (QA). Mursi is the first child from the Middle East to be a member of Mensa - the oldest high IQ society in the world - but he says on most days he seems to forget he is a genius.
“Reading is my forte. I like to read encyclopedias. I’m sort of weak in maths, but then again Einstein wasn’t good at maths,” Mursi, who is now in grade 6 at QA, told The Peninsula.
Even as a small kid, Mursi felt that he could sense errors in words. At two years, he could read Arabic text fluently even without knowing the alphabets. Mursi, who is wary of being in groups, also likes sports and is part of the QA swimming team.
“If it’s about working in groups, I would better just skip the whole thing because when in a group, it’s like I don’t exist,” he said.
His mother, naturally, has her concerns. Mursi stays very serious most days at home and finds it difficult to tolerate even the simplest jokes.
“We need somebody to help us- especially at home,” Mursi’s mother said.
“Of course, I’m thankful to Allah for blessing us with Mursi. But sometimes it’s really difficult to deal with him. His mood changes very quickly, and he is emotionally very strong. When he’s happy or mad, he expresses himself very strongly,” she said, stressing that keeping a balanced environment for her son is a top priority.
“Sometimes when we want to punish him, we don’t know what would be the right way to deal with him. He’s usually a good listener. He never shouts like my daughter. But then because of his mind, I wonder if we should deal with him like a big boy or as a child,” she added.
According to Mursi, he is unlikely to have any problems because his mind has, in fact, skipped adolescence.
“The changes that come from adolescence are actually related to the mind and because my mind is triple my age, my mind has actually skipped adolescence,” he argued.
At nine years of age, Mursi submitted a research proposal to Qatar Foundation’s Research and Development forum for the treatment of diabetes. The research aimed to study the use and functioning of amoeba cells instead of the Pancreas through the Nanobot. The proposal, however, was not very well received.
Although Mursi was shortlisted initially, his proposal was subsequently rejected because of his age. The research foundation had received over 300 research proposals that year – all of which were from people with PhDs.
The incident left Mursi – the youngest child in the world to represent QF for the summer talented program (C.MITES), organised by Carnegie Mellon in Betsberge, Pennsylvania- distressed and determined to “never try again”.
A growing concern for Mursi’s parents now is the school curriculum, which they feel is not effective for someone with an IQ of 168. Currently there are two streams for gifted boys- Mursi can either skip grades or study additional curriculum in the same grade.
QA administration, however, strongly feels that the child prodigy needs to be with children of his own age.
“Because he is very clever and takes information very quickly, the usual school curriculum is not suitable for him. We need a specialist to study his case and design a special curriculum for him,” Mursi’s father said.