The stunningly picturesque city of Abu Dhabi, with its blend of classic Islamic architecture and modern corporate skyscrapers, was built on an island in the Arabian Gulf. Abu Dhabi also is the name of the region, one of seven that make up the federation known as the United Arab Emirates.
Eighty percent of the population of the city, which is the capital of the UAE, consists of non-natives. They represent more than 150 nationalities. English is considered the second language in Abu Dhabi, which has street signs in Arabic and English. The lack of a language barrier eases the transition for incoming students at the emirate’s universities and other postsecondary schools.
Abu Dhabi boasts more than a dozen such institutions. Some are based in the UAE, while others are foreign campuses of universities in Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere. They include public and private schools, which offer a wide range of undergraduate and master’s degree programs.
The oldest and most prestigious postsecondary institution is United Arab Emirates University in the city of Al Ain. According to the QS World Rankings, it is the top university in the UAE. Founded in 1976, it has become the country’s premier teaching and research institution.
More than 14,000 students from the emirate and around the world attend UAEU, which awards bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. At last report, women comprised more than three-quarters of the student body. Colleges include business and economics, education, engineering, food and agricuture, humanities and social sciences, information technology, law, medicine and health sciences, and health. UAEU is rated the second-best research university in the Arab world. Students and faculty study issues ranging from cancer treatment to water resources.
Abu Dhabi University
At Abu Dhabi University, undergraduate and graduate programs focus on the English language, arts and sciences, business administration, and engineering and computer science. This private university, established in 2003, had 4,311 undergrads and 145 staff members in 2013. Its main site is an Al Ain, with a newer campus (opened in 2006) in Khalifa City.
Khalifa University of Science, Technology, and Research was established in the city of Abu Dhabi in 2007. It evolved from the Etisalat College of Engineering, founded in 1989 in Sharjah. Etisalat is the name of a telecommunications company that needed trained employees. The co-educational university’s 1,300 students represent more than 40 nations. The College of Engineering offers nine undergraduate degrees, five postgraduate programs, and five fields of PhD specialization.
Higher Colleges of Technology
With more than 18,000 students in 2013, the Higher Colleges of Technology was among the country’s largest postsecondary institutions. It was founded in 1988, as a public school. HCT operates 17 campuses in various locations (including the cities of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain) in the UAE. Separate facilities are provided for male and female students. The university has colleges of business, communications, computer and information science, education, engineering technology, and health science. Some of the programs, including bachelor of education, are internationally accredited. The 934 faculty members, who come from throughout the world, teach courses in English.
Paris-Sorbonne University is one of the most renowned postsecondary schools in the world. Its campus on Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi provides the same humanities and social-sciences curricula as those offered in France. Some of the professors are even the same, as they often travel between France and the UAE. The university also has programs in law and political science, as well as a one-year French class. PSUAD degrees are recognized everywhere. About 500 students from 60 countries live in single dorm rooms, with separate housing blocks for men and women. According to its website, the university provides “world-class” education, and functions as a “centre for research and cultural activities.” The school’s huge library features books in six languages.
Al Ain University
In the city of the same name, Al Ain University of Science and Technology was founded in 2004. Students from more than 20 countries receive instruction in the English language, in addition to their chosen fields of study. The school has accredited programs in business administration, education, engineering, information technology, law, and pharmacy. Thirteen undergraduate degrees and 10 graduate programs are available at this co-educational institution.
Established in 2005 in the city of Abu Dhabi, ALHOSN University consists of three colleges. They provide degree programs in education, English, social science, accounting, business administration, management information systems, architecture, civil engineering, interior design, mathematics and natural sciences, mechanical and industrial engineering, software engineering, and urban planning.
A graduate school and research facility in Masdar City, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology enrolled 417 students in 2013. Only 162 of them were from the UAE. More than 80 faculty members provide an impressive student-teacher ratio of 5:1. Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in various scientific fields, as well as a doctorate in interdisciplinary engineering, are available. At last report, faculty and students were conducting more than 300 research projects. They concerned issues like alternative energy, sustainability, and the environment. The school opened in 2009.
New York Institute of Technology
Founded in the United States in 1955, the New York Institute of Technology is a private institution with campuses in North America, China, and the Middle East. It features a College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a College of Osteopathic Medicine. There are also schools of architecture and design, education, engineering and computing sciences, health professions, and management. NYIT offers more than 50 degree options for undergraduates, and a similar number of graduate programs.
New York University Abu Dhabi
Downtown Abu Dhabi and Saadiyat Island are the sites of campuses operated by New York University. The school’s Center for Science and Engineering, a research and laboratory facility, is 12 miles outside the capital city. NYU has five academic divisions in Abu Dhabi: arts and humanities, engineering, science, social science, and multidisciplinary. Students choose from among 22 undergraduate majors. Graduate programs are provided in biology, chemistry, and engineering.
Named for the founder of the UAE, Zayed University was established in 1998 and became accredited 10 years later. It has three campuses, including one in Abu Dhabi, where classes are taught in English. The government-sponsored school accepts more than 7,000 male and female students annually. In recent years, they have represented about 20 countries. Zayed awards bachelor’s degrees in arts and sciences, business, education, information technology, and media. Master’s programs include business administration, health-care management, diplomacy and international affairs, and museum studies. Foreign students learn Arabic while pursuing their degrees.
In addition, Abu Dhabi has two business colleges (INSEAD and the University of Strathclyde Business School), a branch of The Petroleum Institute, and the Emirates College for Advanced Education.
The faculty and staff at Abu Dhabi’s higher-education institutions come from 50 countries. Such diversity matches that of the cosmopolitan city. International students find that the emirate not only offers quality postsecondary education. It also is an interesting place to live for a few years.
Among the options for off-campus activities are hanging out at the Corniche, a favorite waterfront area; going to public beaches on the Arabian Gulf coast, where boating and water-sports opportunities are available; and shopping and dining in the city. Festivals and fairs featuring art, music, and film take place annually. Students get around in taxis or leased cars, as there is no public transportation in the monarchy.
International students who have been accepted by a university in the UAE are required to obtain student residence visas from the government. Educational institutions assist their students in securing these documents, which must be renewed each year. To qualify, students have to be enrolled full time and earn passing grades. They also are asked to prove their financial ability to pay for their studies.