Studying in the United Arab Emirates can certainly have its benefits: sun, sea, sand, potential tax-free earnings after graduation, and, according to the QS World University Rankings, some of the best universities in the Gulf region.
Commonly shortened to UAE, the United Arab Emirates is made up of seven states, or emirates (kind of like a much, much smaller version of the United States).
As with states in the US, each emirate has some degree of independence, but there’s also a federal government. This is known as the Supreme Council of Rulers, and is made up of the seven emirs – the leaders of each emirate – who inherit their positions.
Since the 1950s, when oil was discovered in the region, the UAE’s economy has undergone rapid change.
As well as oil and gas exportation, the country has focused on growing its construction and tourism industries; to an extent these go hand in hand – the impressive feats of modern design on display in Dubai are among the main attractions for visitors.
Universities in the UAE
The largest higher education institution in the UAE is the Higher Colleges of Technology, which has some 17 campuses across the country.
The United Arab Emirates University, based in the city of Al Ain in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, is also growing fast, and is the UAE’s highest ranked in the QS World University Rankings 2011/12.
In addition, a number of highly ranked universities based in other countries have branch campuses in the UAE.
Facts about the UAE
- Capital is Abu Dhabi, but largest city is Dubai (rather confusingly, both are the names of cities as well as of the emirates in which they are located),
- Currency is the dirham (one dirham = 100 fils),
- International dialing code is +971 and internet domain is .ae,
- The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm al-Quwain,
- Official language is Arabic, but English is the main language in higher education; Farsi, Hindi and Urdu are also spoken,
- The world’s sixth-largest proven oil reserves, most of which are located in the Abu Dhabi emirate,
- Four-fifths of the country is classed as desert,
- Total area of 83,600 sq km (slightly smaller than Austria),
- Dubai’s BurjKhalifa is the world’s tallest manmade structure, at just under 830m high,
- The weekend is taken on Friday and Saturday, as Friday is the Muslim holy day,
- Some companies and organizations operate a six day working week, Saturday to Thursday.
Applying to universities in the UAE
- Each institution sets its own admission requirements, but at state universities students are normally expected to be proficient in speaking Arabic, as well as English – the main language used at universities in the UAE.
- To enter the country, you’ll need a sponsor from within the UAE. If you have no relatives or contacts based there, the university offering you a place will usually do this for you.
- Usually a student residence visa will only be issued for one year at a time, and can then be renewed.
- You should also expect to be asked to undergo a medical examination at an authorised UAE centre, which will include testing for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, leprosy and syphilis. Anyone testing positive for any of these, with the exception of syphilis, will be deported
Additional information about UAE
UAE generally is very hot and dry