NYU Abu Dhabi students playing sports in the plaza.

Since I joined NYU in 2018, I’ve had the chance to visit the UAE regularly. I lived on the small (but perfectly formed) NYU Abu Dhabi campus for almost two months. From the amazing people and top-notch facilities to the warm weather and stunning palm trees—I was easily sold.

The Abu Dhabi campus covers nearly 40 acres. It promotes interaction between living and learning, research and teaching, and the various people who inhabit it: students, faculty, and staff.

Here are five benefits I believe you will gain when doing your undergraduate degree on our wonderful Saadiyat Island campus.

1. You Will Be Visible

All of NYU’s campuses (yes, including New York City) offer the opportunity to take classes in small groups—but none more so than NYU Abu Dhabi. Professors and classmates alike will expect you to participate, engage, and debate. No one sits anonymously at the back of the class at NYU Abu Dhabi!

You will also hone your leadership skills, with greater access to committee roles in our student interest groups, places on intercollegiate sports teams, or positions for research projects or internships across campus and beyond. Your learning and growing path will be hands on and fully experiential.

2. You Will Connect

Being on a small campus, you will forge strong bonds with your classmates. You’ll certainly make friends for life! You will also connect with faculty, since many of them live on campus. It’s not rare to cross paths with professors as they take a stroll on the leafy high line to walk their dog or play with their kids. The campus truly is a close-knit community.

People you don’t expect may also become a big part of your student experience, from the dining hall staffer who knows your name and cooks your salmon just right to the security guard who kept your lost wallet safe. Being part of a smaller community at NYU Abu Dhabi will help you make crucial connections so you can you feel truly at home. ADvocacy, a student interest group, even organizes the Staff Appreciation Day to thank all campus employees for the work they do to make sure the community remains happy and safe.

3. You Will Not Get Lost

When I stayed on Saadiyat, I surely got my daily steps in! The campus is small enough that you don’t have to take public transport or use a bike. Still, it’s large enough to get you fit, going up and down the stairs of our different levels—from the beautifully green high line at the very top to the research labs below ground level.

You can easily walk everywhere and quickly feel comfortable finding your way around—well, you will after a few days of asking, “Which building is A4 again?” Everything is so close, you’ll have no excuse to be late for class in the morning when your commute time is mere minutes. The NYU Abu Dhabi campus is also very safe. Walking back alone to your dorm room late at night after studying in the library? Three minutes and you are home.

4. You Will Need to Break Out of the Bubble

Our Saadiyat campus, due to its self-contained nature, is often called a safe and special “bubble.” It’s true that we have sports facilities, restaurants, coffee shops, a pharmacy, a hairdresser, a mini-supermarket, and more on-site, waiting for you. It makes life easier to have everything you need at your fingertips.

BUT…don’t forget to break out of the Saadiyat bubble once in a while! Our campus has great connections, by free shuttle, local bus, or taxi, to many of the city’s islands. I spent quite a few evenings exploring the malls and the marina of the neighboring Yas (Entertainment) Island. You can easily access the Corniche boardwalk and downtown Abu Dhabi in under 15 minutes. Dubai is also just an hour and a few minutes away! There’s a big world out there waiting for you.

5. Finally...You Will Still Get the Benefits of Being Part of a Large University

Talking about expanding your world, NYU is truly interconnected. From the New York City and Shanghai campuses to the 12 study away global sites, all located in large cities, you’ll have plenty to explore across our network. If you study away for a term in New York City for instance, you’ll experience what it’s like to be on a large urban campus. You’ll live through the hustle and bustle of a truly cool city and connect with classmates across the 10 NYU schools based out of the Big Apple.

Need a book from the New York City–based Bobst Library? Want to connect to other NYU career centers? Wish to take a specific elective during study abroad or contact students or alumni from another NYU program? You can do it all while at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Lisa is a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for NYU Abu Dhabi and the Global Admissions Team, based in the London office.
Born and raised in France, Lisa also lived in Denmark and spent a couple of years in leafy upstate New York.  She is a dedicated gardener, a keen traveler to India and Japan, and loves watching the tennis at Wimbledon. She now spends her free time playing with her little rescue terrier dog, Cooper.