Student life in Dubai

Where the city's adult learners hang out after class

Ghazal Tavanaei
Ghazal Tavanaei
Khaula M
Khaula M
Interview
Interview
Interview
Interview
Interview
Interview
Interview
Interview
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Students are flooding back to the city after a long summer break, ready to embark on their next term. There are more than 200,000 students of all ages studying in Dubai (there were 234,662 enrolled in the 2011-2012 academic year, of which 53,089 were Emirati). Of this number, about 40,000 are university students, aged 18-plus, spread across the city’s 52 tertiary educational institutes*. To find out where these bright young things hang out when they’re not broadening their minds and furthering their career prospects, we’ve plucked a few of them out of the crowd to tell us more.

Sakina Feroz Vajihi, 20, Indian
Degree: Media and communications.
Why Dubai? Dubai wasn’t my first choice when it came to deciding where I wanted to go after high school. Nevertheless, it’s been the best decision I’ve made so far, and I won’t ever regret it. I’ve lived in Dubai all my life, and I’m happy to be a part of one of the most diverse cities in the world.

What’s the best thing about being a student?
Being a student gives me an opportunity to learn from my fellow classmates. It gives me knowledge, not just on the subject I plan to study for the next three to four years. Even though being a student is like being in a bubble, in the sense that you’re protected from the world, making the transition from high school to university is a step towards real life, and the freedom that comes with it.

What’s the worst thing about being a student?
The worst bit can be the sense of growing up. Also, although I enjoy the tutorials, the subjects and assignments can sometimes get too much, and I don’t know where to start.

Where do you hang out?
I start most weekends at coffee shops in Jumeirah. My friends and I love Starbucks and its amazing white chocolate mocha, plus Costa’s brownies and the marvellous chocolate cake at Dome. But we also have spontaneous moments where we decide to go off on a road trip with friends and family to the wadis and mountainous areas of Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. Fridays are for family, as it’s the only day my father gets off work, so we either watch movies at the cinema or go jet-skiing at Sharjah Corniche. Sometimes we compete against one another at Yalla Bowling, or just relax with a cold milkshake at Jumeirah Beach.
Yalla Bowling, Mirdif City Centre (800 534 7873).


Khaula M, 23, Pakistani-American
Degree: Architecture.

Why Dubai?
I had the option of going back to study in the US, but I chose Dubai because I get to experience life in a way that I can’t in any other city. For me, the most important thing about living in Dubai is that it’s safe. Being a girl, this is really important: I can go running at 3am with my iPod and phone in hand and still feel safe, because the police are a phone call away and the people in my neighbourhood are always helpful. I also love the multicultural society, the beaches, and the music concerts almost every other month. As a student, you can also maintain a reasonable standard of living here.

What’s the best thing about being a student?
Life is a good balance of work and play.

What’s the worst thing?
For me, there’s no bad side to being a student. It’s in my DNA to keep learning. Where do you hang out? Barasti: I love that place! You get to look at the amazing Palm Jumeirah and the Arabian Gulf, and the music is great. The best part is you can choose the music you want to listen to: upstairs they usually play chart music; downstairs on the beach you can go wild with techno and house; or you can go indoors and listen to soulful R&B. The crowd is young and vibrant, and you get to meet a lot of cool people. I also like The Walk at JBR. I think the whole of Dubai hangs out there because it has everything: food, sports courts, the beach, salons and, most importantly, some fresh air for once instead of being in a mall. Almost every Thursday, my friends and I go to M-Dek, Media One’s rooftop lounge. DJ Schooly plays great music and there’s a lovely crowd – you can chill on the sofas by the pool and just relax.
Barasti, Le Méridien Mina Seyahi (04 399 3333). M-Dek, Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 427 1000).


Ghazal Tavanaei, 19, Iranian
Degree: Media, journalism and screen production.

Why Dubai?
My family lives in Dubai, so I decided to stay with them and finish my degree at Murdoch University here, because it’s one of the only universities in the UAE to offer my course.

What’s the best thing about being a student?
The best bit is that you’re young and are having loads of new experiences, and it’s still okay to make mistakes.

What’s the worst thing?
On the flipside, the fact that we’re still young means we don’t have much experience; at times we’re not taken seriously or given much opportunity, so it can be difficult to find the work you need in order to become more experienced. Some people need to understand that we’re the ones who will be building the future: people need to believe in us and give us the chance to show our abilities.

Where do you hang out?
It’s usually hot outside, so we hang out in the malls – The Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Ibn Battuta – and I spend quite a bit of time in Starbucks in The Springs. When the weather gets cooler, we congregate outdoors at the beaches, parks and at JBR.


Imported education

Some of the world’s most prestigious universities have set up campus in Dubai. We picked three according to their reputation in their home country.

University of Wollongong in Dubai
This university’s parent institution in Australia bagged the 33rd spot in the Times Higher Education (THE) global list of the top 100 under 50 earlier this year. Established here in 1993, it attracts 3,500 students from around the world, representing almost 100 nationalities. It says its courses are linked to the UAE’s human resources requirements, with programmes in business and management, finance and accounting, and computer science and engineering.
Knowledge Village, www.uowdubai.ac.ae (800 8693).

Rochester Institute of Technology
This uni’s campus in New York is routinely ranked among the top universities in America, and students at the satellite campus in Dubai will earn the same degree as those at RIT’s Rochester location. Students who enrol here not only earn an accredited US bachelors degree, but also get the opportunity to study in the States for six months of their course. RIT in Dubai currently offers majors in three areas: business and management, computing and information technology, and engineering.
Techno Point Building, Dubai Silicon Oasis, www.dubai.rit.edu (04 371 2000).

Heriot-Watt Dubai Campus
A Scottish institution with a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt offers British degrees for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. With its parent university ranked among the UK’s best for business and industry, students at the UAE branch can expect to be taught and examined to the same standards. All undergraduate students have the opportunity to transfer to the UK campuses at the end the academic year, while postgrad students can transfer after successfully completing a semester.
Dubai International Academic City, www.hw.ac.uk (04 435 8700).

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