A strong link exists between spatial abilities and academic and professional success in STEM. The development of spatial skills is influenced directly or indirectly by a vast array of factors including academic experiences as well as gender, race, ethnicity, culture, primary language, and socioeconomic status. Numerous previous studies of spatial ability in STEM students have focused on improving spatial skills through interventions to reduce the gender gap and to increase academic success and retention of women in STEM. Cross-cultural variations in spatial ability among the general population are robust, but research is needed to understand whether cross-cultural differences are manifest among the global STEM student population. This paper contributes to that understanding by presenting analysis of the spatial ability of Irish and Gulf States students entering STEM at an institution of higher education in Ireland. The spatial ability of Gulf States students was significantly lower than the spatial ability of Irish students; the spatial ability of both groups was found to be markedly lower than STEM students from the United States, Germany and Poland. The identification and removal of barriers to academic success is of particular interest in the context of current efforts to increase the number of engineering graduates entering the global workforce. This work-in-progress paper also describes the implementation of a targeted intervention to improve the spatial skills of students with weak ability.