The United Arab Emirates: An Emerging Hub for Higher Education

(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Fanar Media).

The United Arab Emirates has emerged as a major higher-education destination in recent years. Claire Roper-Browning, regional director of marketing, recruitment, admissions and communications at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, shares some insights on what makes the U.A.E. so attractive to international students.

Roper-Browning notes that the Emirates’ combination of a diverse culture, employability and job opportunities, and government policies that facilitate international student recruitment, all contribute to making studying in the Emirates a great option for international students.

A recent report from EdOrbis, a university admission counselling service located in Dubai, shows that inbound student mobility to the Emirates is growing rapidly. Although the U.A.E. has lower total international student numbers than major international study destinations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, or Australia, its inbound mobility ratio of 48.6 percent is one of the highest in the world, says the report, which was published in several local newspapers.

The U.A.E. has acknowledged the significance of investing in education and enabling entrepreneurship to facilitate the growth of a knowledge economy. A key element of this strategy has been the country’s aim to become a hub for higher education.

Factors in reaching that goal, Roper-Browning observes, fall mainly into three areas: government policies, job opportunities for graduates, and cultural diversity.

Government Policies

Besides the quality education that universities in the United Arab Emirates offer international students, another reason for their appeal is government policies like the new long-term “golden visa” for outstanding students.

Recently announced by the Federal Authority for Identity, Nationality, Customs and Port Security, the golden visa rewards top-performing international students with a 10-year residency permit, to help them get started on their careers after graduating. The award goes to the most exceptional students in recognition and appreciation of their efforts, determination, and insistence on excelling in the pursuit of knowledge. Other students can get a five-year visa.

Additionally, the government regularly introduces new services to facilitate processes for students. For example, the U.A.E. recently launched an online service to automatically attest higher-education certificates as part of the Ministry of Education’s efforts to digitize services expediting processes that previously took much longer.

Job Opportunities for Graduates

The Emirates’ growing economy and diversification efforts have created numerous employment opportunities for graduates. In addition, many multinational companies and industries have a presence in the U.A.E., providing graduates with diverse career prospects.

The U.A.E.’s economy is diversified and resilient, with sectors such as oil and gas, tourism, trade, finance, logistics, manufacturing, and renewable energy contributing to its growth. The country is also a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, with initiatives such as the Dubai Future Foundation, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund supporting the development of new ideas and solutions.

As such, the Emirates offer ample opportunities for foreign students to gain valuable skills and experience in various industries and sectors.

Diverse Communities

Cultural diversity in the Emirates is another highly appealing factor for international students considering studying in the country. With over 200 nationalities, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates at large are a great example of a diverse community.

According to AECC Global, an international overseas education consultancy, over 80,000 international students study in U.A.E., making it one of the world’s preferred study destinations.

كيف أصبحت الإمارات وجهة دولية ناشئة للتعليم العالي؟
Claire Roper-Browning, Regional Director of Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Communications (MRAC) at Heriot-Watt University Dubai.

The variety of nationalities, cultures, and traditions in the Emirates offer a unique and enriching educational experience. Engaging with a multicultural environment not only fosters personal growth but also equips students with valuable skills in intercultural communication and adaptability.

Furthermore, embracing the diversity found in the U.A.E. allows international students to form lasting connections and networks that extend far beyond their time in the country. Most important, experiencing the vibrant mix of cultures in everyday life enhances the overall educational journey and creates a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for students from all corners of the globe.

Overall, the United Arab Emirates has solidified its position as a premier higher-education destination, offering a plethora of attractive opportunities for international students. The country’s commitment to education and its growing emphasis on research and development underscore its dedication to fostering a knowledge-based economy.

With its welcoming policies, robust job market, and rich cultural diversity, the U.A.E. actively encourages foreign talent to study and thrive in the nation. As inbound student mobility continues to surge, the country’s status as a sought-after higher education destination is set to endure, making it an ideal choice for those seeking quality education and a transformative learning experience in a vibrant and inclusive environment.



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