In 2007, the Abu Dhabi government announced plans to establish New York University Abu Dhabi, an academic endeavor inspired by the region’s founder and first president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Two years later, representatives from NYU and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) gathered in New York City to celebrate the final moments leading up to its opening. The ceremony was attended by a number of prominent figures including Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Rima Al Mokarrab, Executive Director of Strategic Affairs at the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi and John Sexton, President of NYU.
Speaking on behalf of the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC, Ambassador Al Otaiba stated, “Alongside the many social, cultural, and economic partnerships established in recent years between institutions from the United States and the United Arab Emirates, the opening of 19 Washington Square North and the establishment of NYU Abu Dhabi will contribute significantly to the rapidly deepening relationship between our two countries.”
The expansion was the outcome of a shared agreement signed between NYU and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to advance higher education and to cultivate the next generation of global leaders. It not only represents the strong partnership held between the UAE and NYU, but the region’s overarching mission to create a better future with the United States (US).
Advancing Higher Education and Research
Located on Saadiyat Island, The NYU Abu Dhabi campus marks the first major US university to establish a comprehensive liberal arts and science college in the Middle East.
With an acceptance rate as low as 4%, the academic institute is now among the most selective liberal arts colleges in the world. It has produced 16 Rhode Scholars and graduates have earned top honors including the Fullbright, Schwarzman, and Erasmus Mundus scholarships.
Now a world-class research university, it gives distinguished students from around the world the opportunity to receive a holistic education, all while solving local and global challenges of the 21st century.
In the last decade, the research department has produced more than 80 lab projects, 14 research centers, and 3,600 academic papers. These achievements fall under a wide range of disciplines such as health, bio-innovation and environmental sustainability.
NYUAD has also ranked #1 in the UAE for publications in world-class scientific journals, #26 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and #11 in QS Graduate Employability Rankings.
Inclusion, Diversity, Belonging and Equity
NYUAD was originally built on the region’s fundamental values of inclusion, diversity, belonging and equity (IBDE). The remarkably diverse community has set the institute apart and unlocked new opportunities for students to gain real-world exposure to different cultures, backgrounds and perspectives.
Just last year, the university welcomed its largest and most diverse class yet, growing the student body to more than 1,600 undergraduates from over 115 different countries.
Building on this foundation, the Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann joined several NYU officials in developing an Inclusion and Equity Accountability Framework. Launched in the Spring of 2021, this newfound initiative ensures the IDBE landscape will remain central to the NYUAD experience.
Additional campus resources include the Office of Inclusion and Equity, the Office for Faculty Development and Diversity and several student-run organizations like the Campus Life Inclusion and Belonging Coalition.
The Arts Center and Gallery
NYUAD has also played an important role in the region’s rapidly growing art and entertainment scene. In fact, the campus was originally designed by the world-famous architect, Rafael Viñoly.
Since 2014, the institute’s Art Gallery has represented the Gulf’s first and only university gallery in history. The opening was accompanied by the inaugural exhibition, On Site, which set the stage for the gallery’s key themes: the built environment, Islamic art and culture, and art in global dialogue.
So far, the space has featured 12 landmark exhibitions, earned seven Christo and Jeanee-Claude awards and drawn nearly 60,000 visitors to the Abu Dhabi campus.
One year later, the university introduced The Arts Center to foster a stronger connection between the arts, scholarship and the Abu Dhabi community.
The multi-venue complex provides state-of-the-art facilities for NYUAD students and faculty pursuing art, music, theatre, film, and new media. These resources ultimately allow students to explore their full potential in the creative sector and to present their very own work alongside professional artists from the Emirates and around the world.
Over the years, the Arts Center has hosted over 400 performances by more than 1,400 artists from 50 different countries. This includes several major events such as the world premiere of Al Raheel and the Barzakh Festival.
United with the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC
Since its opening in 2010, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC have supported NYU’s growing friendship with the Emirates.
As a close friend of NYUAD, Ambassador Al Otaiba delivered the keynote address to the Class of 2016, during which he received the Global Leadership Award.
Proud of all the university has accomplished, he honored the graduating class stating, “You have a responsibility to be an advocate for the values that you’ve embraced here – the very same values that will move the world forward. Innovative thinking, tolerance, respect for others, hospitality, and a culture of hope. If you help build a foundation for the future based on these principles, you will lead the world in the right direction. More than that, you will write the next great chapter in the history of human endeavor.
More recently, the Ambassador joined several past commencement speakers in a video tribute to the Class of 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to his efforts, the UAE Embassy has welcomed several NYUAD students to Washington, DC and offered exclusive internships to those interested in foreign policy. Embassy officials have also worked closely with US partners including the Meridian International Center to develop new cultural exchange programs abroad.