Study Abroad in Dubai TUITION FREE! My experience, plus tips on living & studying in Dubai, U.A.E.

Good news for Americans who are interested in studying in Dubai! You’re eligible to receive full waiver of tuition to study in this paradise city, thanks to President Clinton..

American University of Dubai is a private, 4-year coed college. It is one of the most established international universities, serving UAE nationals and international students from all over the world. (The student body is ~5,000, with over 120 nationalities!!)


I spent the Fall semester of 2016 abroad at American University of Dubai. This was all made possible through a full scholarship I received from the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Foundation. During his 2002 keynote speech, President Clinton expressed admiration for UAE Prime Minister’s commitment to intercultural collaboration and was impressed by American University of Dubai’s multicultural student body, consisting of over 100 nationalities. In turn, he established the William Jefferson Clinton scholarship program, giving American students the opportunity to broaden their cultural understanding academically in the Arab world. Admission requirements can be found here.

Location! The red pin marks AUD campus. The surrounding area is “Dubai Media City”/”Dubai Internet City”.

Getting around: The metro is conveniently located right next to campus, or you can easily hail down a cab by the campus entrance.
AUD to Dubai Marina: 5-minute drive OR 20-minute train ride
AUD to the famous Palm Jumeriah: only a 10-minute ride!
AUD to Dubai Mall (2nd largest mall in the world): 15-minute drive OR 45-minute train ride
AUD to Mall of the Emirates / Carrefour market: 10-minute drive OR train ride

The dorms are split by gender. The female dorms are in the building to the left, and the male dorms are to the right.
View from the campus Rec field.

Course Overview

At AUD, you’ll find course offerings in all different subject areas, so it shouldn’t be too difficult transferring credits back to your home university. Read more about AUD course offerings, here. As an Anthropology major, the majority of my classes fell under Middle Eastern studies. The two courses I enjoyed most are “Cultures of the Middle East” and “Islamic Civilization.”

Course choice #1: Cultures of the Middle East with Pamela Chrabieh

  • Through food, music, dance, art and more, this course provides a fun and interactive overview of the various cultures of the Middle East.
  • Using an Anthropological framework, you will understand how the Middle Eastern cultures contribute to a “regional identity”, describe difficulties that may arise in cultural interactions, identify “norms” that are both common in the region and/or culture-specific, and discuss how the diversity of the different cultures present strengths and weaknesses across the region. 

Class Assignment: Hummus Laboratory

“Make Hummus, Not War” – One of our class projects was literally to make hummus. Professor Chrabieh outlined exactly what ingredients to buy and had us all bring them to class. During this “Hummus Laboratory” we each created our own hummus and sampled each others while Arabic tunes play in the background. Besides spending the scheduled class time eating delicious hummus, this project was used to symbolize a deeper issue existing within the Middle East, because where there is hummus, there is also intense controversy. An ongoing “hummus war” exists between Lebanon and Israel, over whose is best and of course, which nationality created it. Check out Trevor Graham’s Film “Make Hummus, Not War” a documentary about the conflict, including his journey to all the restaurants/cafes known for making the best hummus!

My hummus and -of course- a side of pita.

Course choice #2: Islamic Civilization with Nadia Wardeh

  • In this course, one of my favorite professors, Dr. Wardeh dives deep into the beliefs, practices, and historical developments of Islamic Civilization. More specifically, she highlights the role its played in the preservation and transmission of knowledge, primarily in the fields of Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Medicine.

Class trip to Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization

Qalâwân Hospital in Cairo, Egypt | This hospital was one of the best of its time. Besides providing medical treatment, Qalâwân Hospital was conducting researching, teaching, and even providing basic amenities to the sick and poor.

Nightlife in Dubai

Catch a view of the Dubai Marina on the many outdoor terraces at Pier 7.

Pier 7 in Dubai Marina | Go from relaxed restaurant, to hip lounge, right up to an upbeat nightclub, all under a single roof. With a mix of restaurants/lounges/bars offering 360 views of the Dubai Marina, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

  • Asia Asia: Enjoy a fusion of Pan Asian & Middle Eastern flavor and a lively nightlife scene. Ladies drink for FREE every Tuesday – female guests can enjoy 3 complimentary drinks from 6pm-1am. Check out their menu, here.
  • Cargo: A laid-back restaurant/lounge, offering an Asian-inspired menu, floor to ceiling windows, and a huge outdoor terrace overlooking the gorgeous Marina. There is Happy Hour everyday 5-8pm AND Ladies drink for FREE every Tuesday & Friday starting at 8pm. Check out their menu, here.
  • Atelier: A rooftop offering a stellar French culinary experience by day and an incredible night of clubbing by night. Here you can enjoy great drinks, a live DJ, and even a game of billiards. Ladies drink for FREE every Tuesday. Check out their menu, here.
Marina views from Asia Asia.

Casual night out at UBK | Urban Bar & Kitchen located in the Movenpick Hotel

UBK is a place to chill out, drink, and eat. Enjoy a lively ambience over great pub food and the latest live sports. Happy Hour is everyday until 8pm! Check out their menu, here.

Snag a free pic by Dubai Nightlife!
Head to the back of the bar for a game of pool and private booths!

Ever been to a pool party ON the beach? Well now you can at Zero Gravity

Food in Dubai

Finally found one of my favorite cuisines right here in Dubai, at Hanoi in JLT.
My first month here I was convinced that Pho was no where to be found.
But finally having it brought me back home and reminded me of the amazing Pho I get in NYC.

Adventure into the Desert with Tickets to Desert Safari!

What is it? You will be picked up in a small truck and taken out to the desert where you’ll be driving through mounds of sand (“dune bashing”) and then stop at a campsite. Depending on which company you choose, the campsite will typically have belly dancers during dinner, hookah, music, henna tattoos, and all other sorts of entertainment like camel rides, dune buggies, and quad bikes.

How much is it? Pricing will depend on the company and what they are offering (I’ve seen some for as low as $30 and as high as $200). Basic desert safaris are pretty affordable, while overnight safaris may be more pricey. I recommend searching around the web or using Groupon to find good deals!

Go to the Top of Burj Khalifa!

AUD organizes many events and outings exclusively for its study abroad students. One of many trips we made was to the top of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world!

Take a Day Trip to Old Dubai (Bur Dubai)

On our way to catch a boat from the creek to the Souk (market).
We had a whole day planned out in Old Dubai (a 30-40 min metro ride away)
We started off at a Pakistani restaurant near the train station that had really great food for super cheap prices (some things on the menu were literally equivalent to $1 USD)
Made your way to the creek to catch a quick boat ride to the Souk (market).
Cost: 1 dirham
Old Dubai’s Souk is filled with great souvenirs, spices, herbs, jewelry, decorations, clothing & much more!

Visa Run | Oman and Sri Lanka

Your visa allows you to stay in the UAE for up to 30 days. You can pay a fee to renew your visa or take the opportunity to explore a neighboring country! My study abroad class and I drove to Oman for our first visa run. Thirty days later, we flew to Sri Lanka for our second visa run.

Author: Christine Jacob

Learn more about the author, here

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